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Resistance Is Reality

Today, I am working at the gallery in Ashland, OR. that carries my paintings. It is a cold, dreary day outside and a meager few folks are afoot.

After finishing the morning chores of watering the planters out in front and calling to remind the next days sitter, I take myself on a leisurely gallery tour, peering intently into each and every painting. I try to sense whether a scene was rendered in the moment of the experience or from a memorized image in time. Like a voyeur, I attempt to unravel each artist’s creative process. I guess at the order of the layers and marvel at how each person chose to do what they did; using a particular combination of colors; scratching through the paint; gooping on thick layers with a palette knife.
I’m aware that the literal images reach out and touch me in the head—a re-cognition of a time, place or event. The more abstract paintings register strongly in my chest. Is it because they reveal that there is no plan? Is the artist more in a position of following an intuitive muse and allowing the work to unfold? Is the intellect in a supportive roll, trusting a deeper internal truth?
A familiar flip flashes through my belly as I reflect on my own creative process. Like a fragment from an unsettling dream, I remember this resistance that comes with the blank page waiting for paint or words. I crave to know what to do as if having a plan will somehow assure a positive outcome. The struggle between needing to know and trusting a deeper knowing that it is safe to just begin is agonizing. My mind warns me not to go to this place of fear that I have fallen prey to so many times. It is at these moments that I am tempted to indulge the distractions of laundry and email.

On the other side of this coin, I recall the great delight I have experienced while shepherding students over the past 40 years into that remarkable realm where they find and trust their own authenticity as their guide. The awakening that happens when the blocks tumble down and one’s own unobstructed light shines is freedom in it’s truest form. It’s from this magical creative place that we realize that it isn’t possible for our efforts to fail; only for them to provide fertile ground for the next creative adventure. In fact, many of my most successful paintings have evolved from at least one layer which I felt had run amok.
So today, surrounded by the brave steps of others, I am enthused that tomorrow I will face the blank page and build layers of learning until the vibrant truth of YES shines forth.

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