Drawing as the cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.

July 29, 2008 at 10:00 am (Uncategorized)

I started off this morning with my favorite little art trick ever, one that I’ve used ever since I was a teenager. In the weird little twilight that exists between being awake and asleep – that lull that comes over you just as you start to be aware of your surroundings upon waking up – I planted an idea in my head and just let my mind take it over and fester on it.

I think if I were to put in a nutshell what all my greatest problems in life were, that nutshell would be neatly labeled “fear” – I can actually do quite a number of interesting things reasonably well, it’s just that sometimes fear overtakes me and it causes me to screw up. Sometimes I go to say a particular word – and it could be truly anything, like a friend’s name that I’ve said a thousand times before – and suddenly get this panic that I’m going to pronounce it wrong… and in the split second between thinking the name and saying the name, this fear takes over. And then, of course, because I’ve become so distracted and fixated on saying it wrong, I do in fact mispronounce it. It’s frustrating. It’s not that I can’t say it correctly or that I haven’t said it correctly many times before. It’s just that the fear takes over and… well, that is the end of that.

The same thing happens to me in my work – I have a problem which I know I can solve, and yet I can’t because the fear cripples me – and so this exercise is a good way to force myself to relax and just let my brain do what it already knows what to do.

So I tried it this morning on that thing in my studio that’s been haunting me – my gigantic pop-up that comes up in the middle of my book, the one that opens up to be four feet tall or something, except I couldn’t really figure out how to do it. Or rather, I had a working solution, just not one I was really thrilled about, and it was becoming something that I was slowly getting more and more anxious about.

And voila, I have a solution. It’s actually incredibly easy and straightforward, and just goes back to my original thinking:

Duh, it’s so obvious – dowels with strings, like what a puppet has, can support the trees. This will allow me to build them way in the hell taller and also utilize the space that exists between the book and the ceiling (which, is of course, an awful lot of space). The dowels can be collapsable, in keeping with the overall specifications of the project. Good lord, the answer was so easy. I can’t believe I was so worried.

I think a lot about how fear is sort of my muse – how my relationship to fear defines so much of what I do in every aspect of my life. It’s always there for me and it’s just this weird dance I do to resolve it, to avoid it, or just to live with it. I wonder often what the opposite of this kind of fear is – it’s not “courage” per se, because it’s such a specific kind of irrational, strange fear that makes no sense whatsoever. This morning, I’m kind of feeling like the opposite of fear is maybe drawing (or, artmaking in general) – that productive act that allows you work through problems effectively rather than simply sitting immobilized and overwhelmed by them. The clincher is of course that drawing (in this case, the desire to make this crazy pop up book) is what got me into this particular mess in the first place, but that’s just a funny little irony.

Anyway. I like this.

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