Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!
This morning I was immersed for awhile in Maria Popova's excellent weekly newsletter, Brain Pickings, a compendium of philosophical musings by writers from many perspectives, their common thread an investigation of what makes our lives rich and meaningful. Her post this week featured one of my favorite writers, the Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue. Clicking on one of the links, I was led to an excerpt of his writings on the role of memory in our creative lives. He wrote:
It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured. Experience is not about the consumption of life, rather it is about the interflow of creation into the self and of the self into creation. This brings about subtle and consistently new configurations in both. That is the activity of growth and creativity.
I love this quote, acknowledging how closely my painting is tied to memories of wild places in the landscape, and the feelings I associate with them. It's the basis of the visual language that I've developed over the years, and has grown and changed with new layers of experience. What is it that allows some experiences to become integrated into one's deeper self--and so to become part of an ongoing and growing creative process? It may seem like a contradiction, but I think there is a connection to another philosophical belief, expressed by writers such as Eckhart Tolle--the importance of the moment, of the Now. When you're truly present in a moment, it seems to me that moment then becomes--as memory--part of your creative journey. I'm not thinking here of the kind of memories that are so significant they have an obvious imprint--a wedding, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. It's the mystery of why some memories stand out in the more ordinary flow of life. As an artist, I'm especially curious about those that lodge in memory as visual impressions, combined with inner response of pure emotion. For myself, I realize that many of the memories that feed my work happened as a result of being very present, in the moment, and allowing what I was experiencing to push aside other thought and interpretation. Simply being and experiencing.
I love it when what comes through in my work is not only conscious observation of colors and textures in nature, but also the more mysterious source of memory, a by-product of O'Donohue's "journey of transformation." Accessing these memories in a way that allows for creative interpretation, rather than literal depiction, is an ongoing challenge. It seems to happen best when I shut off inner narrative and enter a more intuitive flow. Memories can then become their essence of visual impact and feeling, They can also intermingle, form new connections, cross barriers of time and location and the constraints of labels and verbal descriptions.
¶ 10:35 AM