Friday, August 22, 2008

Creative Capital

Evening Pond
10 x 8
Please contact me if interested in this piece

You know how sometimes it seems like an idea keeps popping up everywhere in things you are reading, or looking at or thinking about? I've been thinking a lot lately about what I choose to paint- what ideas and imagery interest me and why. I wrote a bit about that here (quoting both Annie Dillard and Thoreau) and since then, it seems I find references to this notion- that your aesthetic sensibility is a like a vein of ore you are meant to mine. Then last week I was rereading The Creators by Paul Johnson, and there it was again- except this time Johnson had given it a name- creative capital.

"By experience I mean the combination of observation and feeling that leads to a creative moment...this precious capital can be spent- thrown away, as it were...and replenished by undergoing fresh experience...of an intense kind."

I'm not sure I would have agreed with that a few years ago, but now it seems just about right, at least for me. In my own case, I can't help but notice that certain imagery- water, for example- and certain times of day- evening, night- are favorite motifs. Although it was mostly an unconscious thing, I think the change in my painting techniques were directly related to my desire to explore these ideas. Perhaps the most dramatic change came about because of our move to a landscape which in many respects reminds me of the landscape of my childhood. There are powerful associations for me, childhood memories that I hadn't thought of in years-but which now seem to inform everything I want to paint.

"There are a lot of things I could say about the art (of poetry) should be about major adventures only,outward and inward-important things that happen to you, or important things that occur to you. Mere poeticality won't suffice."
Robert Frost 1928

I also think there is an edge of melancholy and sometimes a sense of sadness or loss in my work, that wasn't there until the last few years. Perhaps this is just an acknowledgment of the loss of my parents, who I miss terribly, and the fact of my own mortality. At 58, I am not exactly at death's door (at least, not that I know of, but I do feel a sense of urgency and mourn the loss of so many creative years when I was otherwise engaged.

"Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case."
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

But truth be told, I am not so sure I would have been able to tap into that vein 25 years ago or even 10 years ago. So perhaps this is my time and these are the things I was made to give voice to. One thing I know for sure, there's no time to waste.


Casey Klahn said...

Count me as one of those that's happy that you are creating, Deborah!

Dean H. said...

These are things that have been drifting about in the back of my mind for the last several years. Thoughts of forgotten memories resurfacing, mortality,swiftness of time,plus trying to discover what your mission is meant to be.
Thanks for putting words to it.

Deborah Paris said...

Thank you Casey- right back atcha!

Hi Dean. I appreciate your letting me know that my ramblings struck a chord with you. Thanks for visiting!

Unknown said...

You and I are the same age, and I, too, feel the urge to 'mine my creative vein' because time is more precious than when I was younger. Thanks for discussing this. It really will give me something to ponder.

Sheila Vaughan said...

Thank you for your comments and quotations Deborah, both are really important to me. The notion of not just "painting" but expressing some insistent personal meaning, that is what I also want to move towards.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Deborah-I'm glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for visiting!

Hi Sheila. For me, the key is to transform the personal into something universal. I think that's what Frost was saying. I am really enjoying your bicycle series!

FCP said...

Your work is lovely. I especially like softness, the ethereal quality of the light and sense of melancholy. The warm skies are enchanting!