Jean Tucker, circa 1947
Today is the eighth anniversary of my mother's death. I miss my mother every single day, but I don't feel sad today. Instead, I feel grateful that she is no longer suffering from the rare neurological disease that robbed her of movement and independence. It was no way to live. Through the years, I find that acknowledging these anniversaries in some way is helpful to me.
When I opened Robert Genn's newsletter today it seemed perfect. One of the biggest struggles after the loss of my mother, which came just under 2 years after the death of my sister, was the ability to get into the studio and make art.
Jean and Rex Tucker, 1945
ages 21 and 25
Please take a moment and read his article. It may resonate with you, too.
Rediscovering your inner artist
Yesterday, Darryl Daniels of Montgomery, AL wrote, "I lost my 'inner artist' over a period of years when I was taking care of my grandparents, trying to run a business and dealing with the challenges of marriage, etc. I stopped thinking about art and was knocked off course. While I now have art magazines, books and other forms of stimulation, I can't begin again and I have persistent feelings of failure. When I think about what I have not done, the work ahead seems like an overwhelming mountain. How does one recover from this condition?"
Thanks, Darryl. I'm willing to bet that every artist in the history of art has suffered from your condition. Some suffer for months or years, others weekly, others several times a day. I'm suffering from it right this minute, but there's a good chance I'll be back to work as soon as I get this letter written.
Generally speaking, books, magazines and other stimuli don't work. You have to steel yourself up and get yourself busy. It's the work itself that rocks the mountain. If there ever was such a thing as an "inner artist," it's something like a pile of loose bricks that you have to form into a small monument every day. This is the simple difference between dreamers and doers. I call it the "worker's edge."
A goodly part of the worker's edge is the knowledge and understanding that your personal creative processes are their own reward. Painting, for example, can be a parade of minor defeats and failures, but nevertheless the personal and individual working process is more positive than negative. Up here in Canada we call it "beavering away." Beavering can start at any time, even with old beavers. Our national animal serves us well. Beavers pay little attention to the overweening mountain. Simple accumulation changes the course of rivers.
What happened to your inner artist? Your inner artist has just been temporarily out of action. Your basic human instinct to invent, create and build is still just below the surface. To flourish, you need to exercise. Ready or not, you need to start. The philosopher Lao-Tzu (604 BC--531 BC) said it some time ago: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
PS: "Just keep going--no feeling is final." (Rainer Maria Rilke)
Esoterica: Failure is a basic ingredient of success. Simply accept the notion that failures are the stepping stones to your greater self-realization. Looking at art magazines will only show you how imaginative others are, and how well some of them are doing. The time to look at magazines is after a busy day in your workplace. You need to know your inner artist will come to life only when you start. Now is as good a time as any. "Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
I miss you all. Every day.