Sunday, November 7, 2010

Looking out for Storms.......

.....and seeing through some clouds

I had thought I would make a picture blog, a little story told through all the beautiful pictures made these last few weeks by Madeleine and me. We shall see where this brings me.
She has taken such wonderful photos of my working. Such a treat it is to see her with my big old camera and its enormous heavy lense. She can hardly hold it up, but does so carefully and with such determination to do it properly. I will have to find a way to take a photo of her while she is taking a photo. Will need some help with that: )
But until then here is her shadow.

Working on Madeleine's crown for Halloween in the mid morning light of my front door

I have always let her take photos with my camera for as long as she has asked. I try to keep track of them with the intention of making a book of them. I suppose its the delight I have experienced at seeing her view, her picture, her free unthoughtful picture of things, and of course her own delight of picture making thats allows me to let her hold this very expensive piece of equipment.
Like her drawings, her Madeleine'e eye view of the world fascinates me in the way folk art or outsider art does. Having been professionally trained as an artist, I feel both completely blessed and hindered by my appreciation of what is art.
As I watch her work I am a witness to unadulterated Inspiration. Every part of her being is completely involved in what she is doing, a zen master in my very home. I search for this apart from my training, and sometimes find it in my own work now. Madeleine is my measure and my guide to this mysterious 'Now' of art making, or in another way, this state of flow.

Madeleine's pictures of new crafts, hats and crowns!

I received great training in college. I was lucky to have wonderful tutors who offered so much of themselves as artists, teachers and friends. And as it turned out I became a sculptor. I had a lot of determination and I soared through my last couple of years of college. If I never make anything again that comes under the heading of Sculpture, I shouldn't regret a moment of that training.
But somewhere along the way I realized I wasn't happy making this art. I enjoyed the end result, the positive reaction and attention that followed. But where was the art-full part, my heart wasn't in it, much more my head. I didn't learn to be the artist I wanted to be. And maybe that is something you either are or evolve into. I am not sure. I wonder how it would be to try and teach art students to be artists from the inside out. But then there are all kinds of ways of being an artist.
Honestly this subject is an old obsession of mine. I have been trying to comprehend creative energy for years, similarly I suppose to my quest for an enlightened mind. I am quite certain now they go hand in hand.

One of my first artistic ventures beyond college was to Paris. I was asked to do a piece of performance art at the Centre de Culture Irlandais in the heart of the Latin quarter. You can imagine the sheer excitement. And in keeping with all things Paris, I attempted to do something very profound and perhaps impossible for me at the time. I decided to try to open the creativity of the artist and share it with the public and see if it could be really felt in some way.
How was I going to do this????
I drew sketches from dawn till dusk, in an open gallery space in the main square of the centre. I drew whatever came into my mind and encouraged the viewer to interact with me, as I would draw every thought and feeling that I could, including theirs as they arose within me. I covered the walls around us with the sketches.
As the day progressed, the exploration was to show that at some point or points, there would be inspired creativity from some well within me, that would then become a work of art. In whose mind? in whose perception?, mine I suppose.

mid- performance Paris 2003

Success, was that this was witnessed and shared, and even better understood. My viewers did interact and happily went along with my vague but spirited plan. At some point I did find myself in a creative zone of some sorts and full of enthusiasm. It was well received.
If I was to repeat this performance, I would try to draw what comes to my heart in the moment of being there, I would have sat down and drawn slowly; )
What I struggled to understand then, and what I realize simply now is that this energy or experience is in a constant state in every child under a certain age, probably about seven, and also to be seen in the untrained artist who has simply stumbled upon the joy of being creative. Without formal thoughts about how things should or shouldn't be, comes great freedom of expression.

Yes I am biased as Madeleine's mother to think all she creates is perfect, and perhaps drugged on love. But take away the conditioned perception that a child is naive and art something that is only refined and you have pure energy, captivating line, mark and expression that only the great Picasso can rival. Don't get me wrong, art history is a passion for me. It feels though as if in my studying it, it has separated the art from the artist and the experience of art making for me. I, at times have been so concerned with aesthetic results that I think frustrated me and took away the joy of process. I love performance art for this reason. Art, the artist, the experience and result are all so deeply connected, its much closer to something alive for me, as a viewer. Oh what a rich subject this can be.

The picture at the start of this blog is me making Madeleine's Rapunzel crown and braids for Halloween. I was utterly excited and joyful making this, and Madeleine too, but as one might imagine her patience for me to finish didn't last too long. At some point I had to put her outside in the garden to play and let me finish. As I sewed them then I pictured her the following day, ready for her Halloween party and trick- a- treating and wondered why it is so important to me to make this costume. Her enjoyment, yes and my satisfaction, yes, my need for creative expression, yes. The offering of a choice, she could be anything and I could help. This is what I can do for her, this is a magic Mommy moment.

Indeed, this is what I do. Making art is my way, my contact with the well, the source, the unknown, the place where stars must have been inspired, flowers, all life, all beauty, all children.

Madeleine returns with flowers to add to her crown!

Is it children's crowns I make, hats, paintings, .....Sculpture.......................... Its being in a graceful state of art making that I am after, not to capture now, but to experience and feel the aliveness of that and see what happens.

This evening before I picked up Madeleine,who was playing with her cousins for the day, I took a detour. I drove up Tonn Tine, a mountain near here where I have walked a hundred times and more I am sure. I parked near to the top and walked the last of it with this chilling November wind at my cuffs and just beneath my scarf. The air was gorgeous. I had heard on the radio a big storm was coming in from the Atlantic and I wondered if I could see it coming in from up there.
I am a big cloud fan, these divine shapes with their silver and golden linings: ) I could see a bank of prussian blue on its way in and pink rays of sun sending its evening signals up from behind. I also saw myself standing there a hundred times or more in many different states of mind and many moments of art- wonder. I felt so peaceful about this history, not a hint of melancholy, just this lovely feeling that I am ever closer to being where I want to be and doing what I want to do. To watching storms roll in cause its beautiful, making crowns because its beautiful, with a wealth of old explorations and learning at hand, some kind of peace unfolds like a good tonic here.
To be an artist for me is a practice and I am in the midst.

Rapunzel/Madeleine in crown and braids

Mandala making:

In a mix of new painting territory ( making my cell trees as mentioned in my second blog) and deep intrigue and inquiry of old traditions of buddhist art making, I have begun a seasonal set of Mandala's. The first is Autumn and I think its finished. Here it is in parts and process. The finished work will be posted soon xx