Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Some kind and sensitive words this morning from my dear friend Colette and my sister Nancy helped. An encouraging email from my husband was appreciated: "Ne te décourage pas!" A walk with my cheerful companion Meeko was uplifting. Finally I did what I should have done hours before. I walked upstairs to my studio and started painting again. I have a quote by Vincent Van Gogh hanging on the bulletin board beside my work table. It is so simple and yet so true: "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." I should have remembered Vincent's words in the early morning hours.
My studio is in a state of, let's say, semi-disorder. I cleaned and organized my painting table last week so it is looking quite good. The rest of the room--not so great. There are piles and piles of books, papers, art supplies and sewing materials all waiting to be organized and placed properly. Up until this summer, I was using one of our basement rooms as a storage room for my greeting cards (I'll show you them some day soon), business papers and the bulkier art supplies. That space is now an entertainment room for the family which makes so much more sense, but that means that many things have travelled up the stairs to my studio. It also means that I'm not certain where many things are.
After painting for a while today, I started looking for something I needed and I had to sift through some of the piles on my loft floor. I came across a sheet that I had forgotten about. It was passed out by the teacher of an art class I took a few years ago. Interesting timing. It was yet another message encouraging creativity in moments of self-doubt.
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
I have looked it up and those beautiful words belong to the American dancer/choreographer, Martha Graham. They were part of a private conversation she had with her friend and fellow dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille. De Mille later included the conversation in her book, Dance to the Piper.
And so right now, I am taking both Vincent's and Martha's words to heart and heading back to my loft to paint.