Saturday, May 30, 2015

Trust Yourself

For the past two weeks I have been flushing the system.  Making whatever came to mind without a lot of discrimination.  Just get it outta there.  Derivative, cliche, even strongly vaginal - I just made it and worried later.  And I have worried a bit (read: a lot).  Mostly, it has been the usual suspects: am I really an artist?  Am I wasting my time?  Have I pissed off my whole family to come here only to just diddle around making strongly vaginal artwork?

The thing is, you can't have doubt without its opposite, faith, lurking somewhere in the background.  Even in my lowest moment, as I sat in a chair, hating everything I saw while feeling the clock and the calendar pressing down on me - somewhere in there - I had faith.  Faith in this process of making, faith in my decades of experience, ultimately, faith in myself.  I distinctly remember sitting there completely distraught and paralyzed when I thought to myself that nothing will change as long as I kept sitting there.  The only way out of this disaster was to make a move.  Draw a line, cut a piece of fabric, whatever.  Just do something.  And in that one action, things will change.  There has to be movement.

It sounds pretty obvious but, for me, it was a turning point.  I can't say that, from that moment forward, I have been making masterpieces.  Not at all.  But I found my counter argument to when I start down that slippery slope of negativity.  The only way out is through.

Yesterday, I felt like I made a few worthwhile things.  There are enough layers of meaning and formal interest to hold my attention.  I started repairing a pillow case that I found in my bin of textiles - it dates from the 1970s.  I used "liquid embroidery" to paint on these stenciled images on a rainy weekend with my siblings.  No doubt my mother was just grateful that we were being quiet.  For some reason, I still had this thing that I made back then but it was in pretty bad shape.  I decided to use a Japanese mending technique called sashiko to repair it.  I thought it would be amusing to use this beautiful technique on my 1970s liquid embroidery pillow case.  (And I still think it is amusing!)  But something else began to happen as well - color and texture started to come together in a beautiful way, perhaps aided by a sense of caring and history.

A detail of one of them.  I ended up liking the back more than the front.
I have made two so far and they are holding their own.  With the energy of those two objects, other objects and drawings started to come together in a new way too.

In yoga, we talk a lot about śraddha, usually translated as faith.  In Zen, my teacher often repeats what his teacher often repeated, "Trust yourself."

Trust yourself.

And, it was a beautiful evening last night too.

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