Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My Great Big Sunshiny Break in the Fog
I feel like I've hit a roadblock the past few weeks. Like, I was walking along this fantastic, scenic road, and suddenly, I hit a wall of fog, and now I can't see where I'm going.
It's not an absence of ideas. I can't walk without falling over ideas. My brain is a big old tumbler of buildings and castles and roads and names and fairy tale motifs and new worlds and seas and images. Sometimes I feel like I will explode with ideas.
Nope, not an absence of ideas at all. I just feel foggy. Can't see the road. I sit down at the drafting table, paper in front of me, and can't decide how I want this map to look. The ideas are there, but I can't bring them together into the whole.
I want each of my maps to be distinct. I don't want them to all run together. The problem is, when you do the same thing day in, day out, it's way too easy for things to run together, and if my maps start to run together for me, then the viewers are going to have the same experience.
I know in my heart of hearts that mapmaking is what I am supposed to be doing right now. It's one of the most supposed-to-be-doing things I've ever done, and it's not over; I have a long way to go. But the fog is blocking my way. What to do?
Yesterday, I found myself driving through torrential rain interspersed with hail, a storm so blinding that the cars were going five miles an hour, a phenomenon that I assure you I have never seen in Virginia. (I think this place invented blinding sheets of rain and the people who drive here invented the gas pedal. Okay, maybe not. Still.)
So, because I didn't want to die, or, worse, have to call the insurance company, I decided to get off the freeway, and sit out the storm a bit. And by the time I got to the end of the offramp - I am not kidding you - the rain was a mere sprinkle. I glanced in the rearview mirror, and couldn't see the freeway right behind me. And oddly enough, the exit - I couldn't see the sign until I was under it - was a road that leads straight to my house.
In other words, if you can't go through, sometimes the right thing to do is go around, and you find that you end up where you need to be, anyway.
What I needed today was a detour, and a burst of sunshine to clear away my mental fog, and help me find the path again.
So this morning, while browsing some great home decor sites while sipping my morning coffee (we're - or I am - planning renovations, emphasis on the planning part), I realized that many of the photos I was most drawn to were bursting with color and life and almost rollicking fun. I realize this almost every time I browse these sites, actually. And then I try to decorate with non-vibrant colors. Tsk tsk.
Anyway, I decided to try my hand at some artwork for our house.
I saw an exhibit on Fluxus when I lived in Prague, and the pieces I remember most clearly were vibrant and joyous; our instructor told us that a main motivation behind the Fluxus movement was artists (or maybe is) wanting to make their friends laugh. Now, that may or may not be every art historian's summary of Fluxus, but it's exactly that feeling that most appealed to me in those works of art.
So I wanted to paint something joyful today. Wait, that's, let me try that again. I wanted to paint something JOYFUL!!!!!! today.
These watercolors, which I am painting as a set to be hung together, have a way to go; as simple as they are, they're just at the beginning of what I hope they will become (I mean, I still can't decide what color to paint the star background. Orange? Or red?). But they are just what the art doctor ordered. Already, I feel lighter, and happy just to have a paintbrush in my hand.
Ah, yes, sometimes stepping off the path, even just for a few minutes or a day, turns out to be just the right way to go.
(And now, I think I'll take a detour to Starbucks and the library.)