Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kill your darlings

The rhythm of nature
About a week ago I attended a comprehensive seminar on wellbeing, communication and various psychological reactions and patterns in my daily work, at the school that is. The seminar was led by a head teacher and a psychologist, who's specialized in this area. I was very taken by her arguments and theories on basic communication, but during one of the breaks I had the chance to talk to her. We were talking about the location of the school, on the pasture with a lake that makes the southbound flocks of geese and swans stop by every now and then, a few horses graze there as well. The changing of the seasons always surprises me, even though I watch it happen every day.
MorphoRhetenorHelena (illustration by Creativetone)
During a regular day of work for me, I have a lot of 'to do's' in between lessons in the small office facing the pasture - and often I let myself be distracted by the view. The psychologist called it giving in to the rhythm of nature. She told me about some of the research in stress-related illnesses, where it's been proven, how patients suffering from severe loss of memory are helped to regain their memory by following this rhythm in the treatment. I can only speak for myself, but even though I'm not that forgetful (yet), I find it soothing and calming to just glance out the window where the rhythm will 'suck' you in and make you chill out for a few minutes before entering a classroom with 20 teenagers. I flutter a lot forth and back, up and down, balancing the many different goals, I've set for myself. Not only professionally, but also as a mother, friend, daughter, sister and citizen. Our lives and days are filled to the brim with all the routines, the have-to's and must-do-that's! It's sort of an artificial rhythm, we force on ourselves. To me it often seems clear, how our minds are trying to cope with it, when there are all too many signs and alerts, that our bodies and spirits cannot keep up. Perhaps we should force the rhythm of nature on ourselves in stead. Only for a moment, while remembering how we were once part of nature too...

Sparking motivation
This week I made the final touches on an old painting, which I considered done months ago, but had that distinct feeling about. The feeling that something was missing. While I was staring at it, getting more and more frustrated about it, not wanting to give up the original idea for it entirely, my boyfriend and true supporter forwarded me the weekly blog from Zen Habits' Leo Babauta in which he focused on the importance of not just doing what you love, because you have to, now that you've decided to put an effort into it - but remembering to do it for the fun of it! I only had to read that one once - I started fooling around with colors and shapes, applying radical changes and enjoying it at the same time. It took me a while to let go of my own expectations, but my best friend and artist, Trine, noticed, how I'd seemed to have gone back to my roots. 

Development is good, in my opinion, it's part of an evolutionary process in your work, whatever that is. But in this case I was overwhelmed with the joy of doing it. In retrospective I have spent a lot of time analyzing and refining my work progress and processes for efficiency, to get the most out of the limited amount of time I have to work on it. While doing that, I put my original motivation in the background. Even though that too is part of the evolutionary process, I think that originality must not be forgotten. It is essential and defines us all. Building the bridge between the two may be very hard, but not impossible.

I am thankful for my boyfriend, who can jumpstart me (probably without knowing it) after I've hit the painter's block. There's no pressure, hun :)

Kill your darling
I am still honored that people from all over the world 'like' my work on Facebook, not only on the group page itself, but the particular picture on OK Go's wall has likes in Moscow and Sao Paolo. In my opinion that is social media in the global village in its essence. It serves as a vessel for creating awareness, contacts and new approaches. There is a certain way of using it, which I am still studying to become better at, but it has me intrigued.

My first sale: 'Faces Traces'
In regards to remembering the fun part of painting, I also recalled the event of selling my first painting. It had taken me a long time to finish it, which was back in the days before I actually had a studio, so the living room was where I'd work. A lot of experimenting had over time been taking place on the canvas, and I'd learnt how to 'kill my darlings'. Not only is it a heartbreaking process, the killing, but it can steer the purpose and goal with the piece in a completely different direction. 

I was so incredibly nervous when the sale was going down. The buyers were asking me questions about my inspiration, the colors and the theme(s). At that point I didn't actually think I'd ever make a sale, so leaving my baby in the care of others and being paid for it as well was an experience beyond all others. 

I was proud, but at the same time very anxious about facing the possible demand for my style and work. Could I actually create another one that would sell just as well? The answer to that became apparent to me only a few weeks later.

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