Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Search for Meaning: Self Awareness

To be an artist is to embark on a journey of self-discovery toward a destination that always remains just slightly out of reach. This journey continues long after we have conquered most techniques and mediums. For many artists, the real struggle begins at this point. For many years, I tried to improve my techniques and skills. I eventually realized that there is more to a work of art. I wanted to find meaning in my work. I now know that this is a lifelong pursuit, and self-awareness is the first step. I started making lists as I went deeper and identified my likes, my interests, and my strengths. Here is my list. Have you figured out your list?

Subdued Colors: The artist should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him. If, however, he sees nothing within him, he should also refrain from painting what he sees before him. Caspar David Friedrich, painter

Texture: Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. Benjamin Spock

Lines: calligraphy, marks, patterns... the stars began to burn . through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice . which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company . as you strode deeper and deeper into the world... -- Mary Oliver, poet

Circles: And even better.... circles on rocks!

Dots: You have to be available to the invisible voices that are swirling around you. George C. Wolfe

Bird Nests: Think of the great musicians who practice and practice their instrument. Great musicians do more than hit the right notes; they bring their music alive with a creativity and invention that springs from an inner motivation that surpasses correctness.

Collecting rocks, fossils, driftwood, shells. Working from this inner place is the more elusive challenge, but the most essential.

TEXT AND NUMBERS: Collecting old letters, post cards, stamps, books

Collections: wooden boxes, gears, letters, antique and old and weathered stuff.

Collecting Asian tools, brushes, stamps and chops, books, papers, maps.

Books: Fear is what prevents the flowering of the mind. Krishnamurti


Carole said...

papers of all sorts
wooden tools
happy cats

Laura said...

Creativity comes from deep inside...that is the most important thing I have learned...whether visual art, movement, music, writing, cooking...it all flows from Source within. When we are fully present, art blooms.

I adored the Caspar David Friedrich quote Donna.

Valerianna said...

Yes to all!

Inspiration to you as the garden greens....

Leslie Avon Miller said...

To be engaged in such pursuit is indeed a gift. As human beings we must be meant to find creative solutions. Happy are the hours spent engaged in the studio.

I adore your new collage, Donna. Bravo! I know you stretch yourself as an artist and your hard work has paid off!

My list - neutral colors, lines, textures, calligraphic marks, organic shapes, motion, specks...space. I may add more at anytime!

zendotstudio said...

Lovely new post, lovely new work. I always look forward to both.

For me it is always about the inner journey no matter what I do so your post resonates deeply.

My list, not fully formed I think, and perhaps these things are shift and change: text, asian script and images, texture, scratchy lines, sometimes colours sometimes greys. Thanks for the opportunity to think about this!

Seth said...

Being able to be this clear about your 'list' is a wondrous thing. And I love that fact that our lists as so overlapping!

deborah from collagewhirl said...

Your first paragraph says it all--within a deceptively simple description lies the whole struggle of creating and why we continue to do it.

I love your idea of making lists. Mine has evolved quite a bit over the years, and at this point it resembles yours. I would add some boro-ish fabric fragments and salvaged clothing details.

Wonderful photos and new collage--can you tell I love this post?

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

I love your list & your collections.

Now I must think about my own. Thank you for this inspiration to muse over & collect our likes, interests, & strengths in a list of creative self-awareness. A great idea that I am keen to realize.

Petra Eller said...

Your new collage ... wonderful. i like it.

And applies to me:
I paint ... that's it.
Sometimes it comes from within, sometimes it's something that inspires me. Sometimes it's something that I see and implementing different.
And be open for new things. Never stop. Never stand still. Test some new.
and do not always try to explain everything.
for me it means...let it run.

is this my list? i dont know.

greetings xx

Lynn said...

Donna, thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful, inspiring post.

It is so important to be true to one's artistic voice, which can be difficult: fear, self-doubt, listening to too many other voices, or being distracted by too many external influences can, all too often, interfere. (Guess that's true for one's voice - period.)

Normally I'm a compulsive list maker, but this is one are of my life where I haven't really made lists. Think I'm going to change that.

Your new collage is absolutely beautiful!

Sea Angels said...

Amazing inspiration....I just love your eye for texture...did you ever consider textiles as a career?Hugs Lynn xxx

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

An inspiring post yet again Donna. Fab collage, nests, rocks with circles....happy sighs and contented smiles from me!

Sharon said...

A wonderful post Donna! Your images are so lyrical, your words so wise. Thank you.

I've always felt that when one conquers techniques & media one begins to speak with one's true voice. My list is not made up of things, but emotions...the starting point: that "magnetic essence" that resonates so deeply within, that working is the only response. Like why a bird flies. For me, I would add the Paul Klee quote: "One eye sees, the other feels."

r.bohnenkamp said...

Donna wonderful post and as always a beautiful collage!
I find your collection very inspiring and also the many great quotes.

I collect my preferences and what inspired me on my tumblr blog.
( http://ralf-bohnenkamp.tumblr.com/archive )
I am looking forward to a visit from you:-)
Many greetings,Ralf

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
iHanna said...

For you "earth tones" and nature. For me "pink and warm hues" and "rainbows", but all of it = beautiful.


Oh so beautiful.

Jo Murray said...

No wonder your work is inspired. I would be grateful to be able to really lose all those inhibitions that years of 'tradition' have wrought. Must do a list! It could only help.

Ian Foster said...

I applaud your wonderful new collage, and your list would coincide with mine in many ways (if I had one) although I think I can do without the bird nests.
Having a list sounds like a good idea, I will get to it. Thank you for the prod.

Heavens2Betsy said...

A most beautiful and inspiring list! This is such a lovely thought proving post. Penny

Wen said...

Be-U-ti-FULL! It takes a lifetime to decide on the answers to the questions you ponder. Better to start than never at all! Time spent inward makes art expressed outward deeper, richer and more meaningful. It is thoughts made visible. Inner to outer.

Cynthia Schelzig said...

beautiful images and wonderful quotes...
always a breath of air when
I come by your blog..
thanks so much!

annell4 said...

To know yourself, who you are. What takes your breath away. Stand alone, in the quiet of this busy world, no one has the answer except you. Take time for the response. There is no magic brush, or magic pencil, in the end there is just you. Grant each project it's own time, develop a dialogue with the work. Sometimes you begin with just a small idea, but over time it may grow, and you realize its' importance, something that cannot be known in the beginning. To read, and to write helps you to understand the work you do. Always a lovely post.

Mostly Turquoise said...

Hi Donna,

I think you have given an impulse to lots of artists with this beautiful post, again!
Regina, SXM

Kate P. Miller said...

Beautiful and thoughtful post, inspired me to look at my own "list"
line, gorgeous indelible, marks
text, the look, the literal meaning and the larger meaning of having a text in the first place.
language, visual and other
surfaces, natural, man-made, artist-made
transparency, transluscence
searching for what is real
subtext- everywhere

Numinosity said...

Beautiful thought provoking post, your photos, the quotes the details, your collage, the mood you set. I had to come back again to absorb it better.
xoxo Kim

Cris Winters said...

Yes. Wonderful.

magpie said...

the list serves to explain
so vividly why i'm so drawn to
your work and your aesthetic.
yes to all of the above.
i would add, among other things,
things faded, torn, rusted
ragged edges

Noela Mills said...

What a fabulous post, Donna, and what a great idea to do a list - I will do this while I am away so that I can have a fresh start coming home. I have many subliminal 'shoulds' that need to be trashed. Thank you.

Lisa said...

thoughtful advice for creating a perspective..I like the list idea..always much to learn here...many thanks Donna for sharing your wisdom.

eb said...

I love this post
I love lists
and making lists
your list
(and mine in the works)
and is attuned
with those beloved things
in a creative life
I strive
to allow
to release
to let be
the be raw
and unrefined
to follow a wabi sabi path
these strivings ellude me
but day by day
an allowing
to allow
thank you
for a beautiful,
and soul-filled post...

xox - eb.

Barry said...

D- as so many have said thanks for sharing and reminding us that our art practice is a journey of self discovery as much as a development of expertise. I find that I resonate with so many things on your list. It is a great way to actually make your artist statement - and the works and photos are inspirations. Thanks. B

Fiona Dempster said...

Donna - poetic truth lies within this. We often get so taken up by the expertise/quality/technique that we forget what we are attempting to express in the first place. I think I'll think a bit about my list...

sukipoet said...

thank you for sharing your thoughts, lovely photos and your list. it is funny but before I left my 20 year rental home, i could have listed many many things that fascinated me and that i collected to look at. I had to give away many many things when I left there and since have had no home really in which to collect but a few natural objects that can be discarded during the next move. Really I have no list at this point. My brain is blank. But maybe I can look around my space and see anew some collections of beloved things.

mansuetude said...

Fear is what prevents the flowering of the mind. Krishnamurti

imagine the flowers, if they were in fear, what would they look like?

lovely list--never thought of doing this before. thank you

George said...

Stunningly beautiful, Donna, and equally meaningful. Yes, fear does prevent the flowering of the mind, making it impossible for us to hear those important voices that swirl around our lives. Thanks for bringing us back to the path.

Sweetpea said...

I regret that I have not been spending much time visiting blogland when I read a post such as this, Donna - oh so much to think about. You have prompted me to compose my own list, so I thank you for that.

And I agree with Sea Angels...I saw your collage as textiles. How beautiful that would be as well. Were any of those layers inspired by cloth?

CERULEAN said...

Beautiful, inspiring post.
I sometimes started making lists, but half way "on the road" I mostly stopped and started to work, to explore what's "behind the next hill".

Emma said...

Meaning, that's a difficult one. My list is long & I too resonate with yours & would add many things, too many things which has me twisting & turning. I see meaning as 'theirs', as they look at my work. But I can't possibly know 'their' meaning & realise the meaning is all mine & then feel selfish. Oh! but I continue. I look at your work & simply enjoy.

mano said...

wonderful post! I love the nests, the driftwood, the stones, the old tools, the papers.... I`m also collecting all these things (and other ones), because they are so inspiring.

ArtPropelled said...

So much resonates..... most of your posts do. I am working on my list, having read this post a few days ago. Now I'm back again to replenish.

nancy neva gagliano said...

here i am: "the blogger drop-out"...not forever, i hope, just this winter....however, i always return here:checking in on LAYERS. a reminder, a tickle...your wisdom prompts ~finding my way.

Lisa Ursu said...

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. Benjamin Spock
Wonderful words.
"stamps and chops" I like that!
two books from your stack have really intrigued me, etcetera, and Existed. I'm going to look them up. Thanks for that!

Coffee Messiah said...

Nice post Donna = Cheers!

Deborah said...

Wonderful collage and inspiration. It's time to start my list.

india flint said...

much to marvel at

Hannah said...

When I began reading your post Donna, I wondered what kind of list you might mean. When I reached the end, I realized that the way in which you've constructed your list with both words and images creates a visceral understanding of what you love. And I love the challenge you put to us. Grist for the post mill this week!

Donna Iona Drozda said...

I adore lists and I savor each word and image included in yours...I'm convinced that you could post a description of your clothing hanging on a line outdoors and it would be stunning to take in...everything you touch radiates elegance and calm...what could be better than that?

happy Earth Day.

lyle baxter said...

lovely. you gave us much to think about!I'll be theinking and visiting again! I think I need to narrow my list! or whittle it! thank you for sharing your thoughts!

JGG said...

Thanks Donna, this will take me awhile, but I am looking forward to the learning.

Leovi said...

For me being an artist is as you said yourself a self-discovery and experiences and materials to the facing. I really need an educational background, I like using the word self, then to teach yourself should know. I prefer to follow the line of discovering by trial and error and guide me through my feelings. I love art and see the work of different artists. I do not try to follow a trend, but I guess my intuition guide me along the path of the nicest feelings I've seen in other artists. A greeting.

Kelly M. said...

Donna -- amazing when we sit down and put pen to paper (or keyboard) and begin to think what "pulls" us (using Mary Ann's term), how these seemingly insignificant things, these bits and pieces, become a part of us -- "These fragments I have shored against my ruins," (T.S. Eliot)

missy majchrzak buckley said...

This was my first visit to your blog. I love your work! I'll be stopping back to see more!

Leovi said...

Really true, when I do a work session attentive to those voices I'm invisible, you can hear even over the sound of music. Almost always work to music. Greetings. Have a nice weekend.

Joy Logan said...

don't speak unless you can improve the silence...my all time favorite list to myself. namaste.