Maggie Atwood, author Canada’s national treasure and a personal muse. Her novels, along with Leonard Cohen’s songs and poems, have been the words and soundtrack of my life since arriving in Canada in 1966.
What Ms. Atwood says about her creative process relates, of course, to writing. I think we can all translate her words into our own artistic language.
Margaret Eleanor Atwood (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist. She has published seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and one graphic novel, as well as a number of small press editions in poetry and fiction.
Thanks to Wikipedia for bio.
It was only last year one of my sons turned me on to Ira Glass and This American Life on PBS. When I tell this to people they politely ask which rock I’ve been living under.
Since then I’ve been addicted to the Ira Glass PBS podcasts so imagine my delight when I discovered this video.
If you are not a writer you can exchange his word “story” for whichever acts of art you call home. I believe that everything he shares in this video can be applied to everyone’s creative process.
It’s fast and true for me, how about you?
In this series of posts I am exploring the creative process, mainly in the visual arts but also in writing and music.
I research and listen to a great many artists talking about their work and what goes on in their heads and hearts as they create. I am fascinated by the wide variety of approaches but also by how similar many of those approaches are. For instance one thing I hear again and again is the idea and feeling that the work ‘knows’ what it wants to be and we need only let go of the idea that we are in control to allow fruition.
“You work until you disappear…” phillip guston
I know this completely, through aeons of experience. I understand the initiation rituals of preparation, the getting to know you period, like meeting someone new who you hope will be a friend and reveal worlds yet unseen. In this way I slowly bond with the new work as if it were a sentient being. This is often seen by non artists and more linear artists than me as absurd anthropomorphism. Well, I do what I need to do. I talk to my art which I suppose is akin to talking to myself. It’s been this way for decades and has worked for me.
My blogging community, you, are almost all creative artists in your own particular field. Does what I’ve written ring any bells in you?
I have met and read and listened to artists who approach their work completely differently than me. We have food fights and argue all night but mostly we quote Rumi and drink red wine:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? If you hear a voice within saying ‘You are not a painter’ then by all means paint – and that voice will be silenced.”
“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”
“I believe, I believe everyday is a good day when you paint.
I believe, I believe It’ll bring a lot of good thoughts to your heart.”
This Remix honours Robert Norman Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995.) R.I.P.
We made fun of you Bob but with love in our hearts. Your T.V. presentations were always so delightfully weird and I confess I can’t stand your painting style. But I also have to accept that you charmed thousands into picking up a brush to try their hand at painting and who can say how far those ripples spread? Who can say how many you inspired to discover paint, explore and expand their creative limitations.
You mostly taught process through your own inimitable technique, how to re-present one particular version of the real. However, at the same time, you also brought a philosophy of joy into the act of art that spoke to so many who needed to hear what you had to offer.
Thank you Bob.
P.S. ~ I invite you to visit my latest art at my portfolio site: http://www.johnclinockart.com
I love this video, how Gina’s words and art process are woven together so brilliantly.
I hear what she is sharing about the creative process and I connect on all levels with all senses. So much of this is universal.
What Gina says echoes my own experience. How about you?