I spend a lot of time in formlessness while creating. I have transformed my relationship with the blank canvas so that I do not from feel so overwhelmed with the endless possibilities when beginning something new. I enjoy the flow that happens at this stage of creating. When an image start to take shape, what was unseen takes form.
This change of state can be difficult for me to navigate. I make a mark or choose a direction that is not ultimately what I want. It feels like what I am doing is not working. I feel stuck. The terms resistance, obstacles, blocks are how I used to describe this part of the creative process. My experience of a block while I am painting is one of frustration.
For years I sought to get out of that state and thought to myself, “What have I done wrong? How do I get back in the flow? Arrrgh!”
To better understand this stuck place, I decided to paint it. Instead of trying to avoid this place I welcomed it, and I experienced a shift. While I painted this stuck place with brown and black and grey the image began to evoke the earth, mud, and rock. Instead of seeing some menacing force in my way I saw something real, tangible, and solid. I thought, “Perhaps, you have mistaken solidity for resistance.”
Watercolor sketch, 10″ x 6.75″, 2017
This was a huge shift in perspective for me. When I stayed with the process and responded to this solid block instead of reacting to it (aka freaking out) I could see that it was not blocking me, it was offering me support. I saw rocks instead of blocks.
Although my home state does not have that Alpine change in elevation, I regularly feel that pull to get climbing and navigating between the rocks. Nature, mud and rocks that I so enjoy have been key to revision “stuck” places in my artmaking. Being in nature, and climbing in particular, helps me understand creative blocks differently and now I can relate to them differently. I used to think something was in my way, now I see that I am being offered something to stand on.
I now see allies where I once saw enemies.
To go from a receptive flow to an assertive navigation of the creative process requires a change in perspective first followed by a change in response. I now see that navigating that change is where I need more practice and patience. Nature and the creative process continue to add deep contentment to my life and I continue to discover much they support one another.