Wednesday, 9 March 2011

soliltude and idleness

I learned... that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic, striving, but it comes to us slowly, and quietly, and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness....
Brenda Ueland, discovered on a random blog

I don't know about flowing. 'Getting things flowing' still sounds too much like the mystical muse. It makes you think that you somehow have to 'get into' the flow state, whatever that is. As if once you find the appropriate key and learn how to turn it, the stuff just starts like a river, doing its thing, all on its own, in a magical and mysterious way.

I do like the idea of something coming to you, slowly, and all the time. For me, 'inspiration' seems sometimes to be no more, and no less, than simply emptying out my head and starting to pay attention. What moves me to draw, to pick up my creamy green ink, or my torn paper, is something that's potentially there all the time. No magic, no mysterious state. The (visual) world is there, always ready to speak to me, but only if I'm paying attention. Only if I've not filled up my mind with preoccupations and concerns, distractions, edgy anxieties.

This morning I got on the train to go to Glasgow for a workshop. I had articles in my bag that I could have read, that would have extended my ruminations on a topic that's of great interest to my mind; that would have 'passed the time' on the train, and given me even more things to think about. I saw that I was about to fill my attention up with thinking, which I realised would cut me off from my visual experience, my visual feeding. So I left the ideas in my bag, and instead looked out at the world, which happened to be filled with sunlight and glistening with reflected snow.

That's how I lost my looking, and therefore my art, for over twenty years. By letting my mind always be full. By filling solitude with thinking, with never a space for idleness....

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