In every piece of art that we create, we are allowing a piece of ourselves to escape from it's hiding place, and the world discovers something about us that they never knew before. This is harder than it sounds, and absolutely necessary.
Almost a week ago I wrote about working on Cecelia. I wrote about needing to undo the work that I had done on the tail. I then worked for the better part of this last week doing very intricate beading and crochet work for the face, and while babysitting my little 3 1/2 year old grandson today did another hour and a half's worth of work and then stopped cold. I had totally overdone the piece. I was horrified. I realized in that moment that I was trying to tell Cecelia's story and she needed to tell her own.
With a piece like this, the more you do to it, the more involved the design, the less "scope for the imagination," as Anne of Green Gables would have said, you allow the wearer of the piece to have, and that place of imagination is not only a gift, it is that space, that swinging bridge, between what the artist creates, what it means to her, and what the buyer/wearer needs inside herself when she wraps it around her and completes the cycle of bringing the work to fruition. I create the piece, but it truly becomes all that it was meant to be when it is wrapped around the new owner and she dreams it into reality, her reality. As an artist that is not my business. My job is to follow my instincts, allow the piece to lead me where it wants to go, and then get out of the way and let it fulfill the needs, wants, and dreams of the one it was meant for.
Today I had to look deep into the mirror of my inner artist's soul and discover why I was trying so hard to make this piece something so much more than it needed to be, as if I were trying to prove something to myself. And then I realized that I didn't need to prove a thing, I just needed to be, and to follow the process, follow my inner calling, listen to my own music. A good teaching coming from the Patron Saint of Music.
I realized, near midnight, when I took the dogs out on a last chilly walk before we soon head up to bed, that the excitement of finally beginning to create wearable art, something that I have been wanting and planning to do the last few years but could never seem to get started on, all of a sudden froze me because to do it right is to do it slowly, and I started the etsy store and it now sits empty because there's no way to turn these pieces out quickly, and I took the little bags down I'd made awhile back because they really didn't fit the tone of what I was hoping my work would project. This is very important to me. Good. That is one thing I have learned and said out loud. Now I have to decide if it's better to let a store sit empty and have only one or 2 pieces at a time, or to close the shop and just sell from my website. Even when I create big bags which are in their own way wearable art, or other pieces different than what I am doing now, they will still be long processes and I, like any other artist who wants to eat, hence make money, wants it to go faster! You can't rush the process. The art will arrive at the finish line when the time is right and not a moment sooner. Okay, I get it.
When I decided to create one-of-a-kind pieces, and handspin designer yarns for every piece, I knew that each and every piece would be a long journey, but I was completely unprepared for the deep teachings involved. As soon as you start a piece you have taken the first steps on yet another shamanic journey, and the places you will go may be scary. Now I have to not only finish pulling out the tail and watching my beautiful yarn unravel, I have to completely undo the intricate crocheting and beading I have done to date on the face. I was numb with shock when I realized this, and then I heaved a big sigh of relief. Some part of me knew all along it wasn't right and I kept pushing on.
I suppose that is human nature, and all too often we push on and on and on to our own detriment. Taking apart all of the work I have done on the embellishment, and then redoing it, will be a very deep teaching, a very slow meditative process, an essential journey, and will make my work much better in the long run. I am grateful to have come to this place, even though it means a lot more work, and a good way to go yet to reach the finish line, but that's okay. Where am I going anyway? Everyone is always rushing, rushing, rushing. For some long time my motto has been, "How slow can you go?" It is something between a rhetorical question and a Zen koan, but it is what I need to learn. Every day I need to learn to go slower, and the piece that I am creating will reflect the deep relief in having allowed it to breathe and become at it's own pace. It will be felt by the person wearing it.
I have become comfortable, I think, now, with my work and my process, and I am even becoming comfortable with myself. Perhaps one has to go miles and miles further than they think they should so that they have to backtrack, slowly, counting all the unnecessary steps and seeing, really seeing, all the paths we erroneously followed along the way. Mistakes are good, they are how we learn. Once we truly understand that, we will have taken a great leap in growth. Cecelia will be a wonderful piece of work, and I will be a better artist for this journey.
Time is relative and art cannot be based on a quick buck. Every artist chooses how he or she will work and there is no one right way, there are many different ways, and our job is to find and follow what works for us. For me, going slowly and letting the fibers in my hands make music like the strings on a cello is the only way to go, to grow, to deepen as an artist. Deep, vibrant, resonant, lasting notes that hang in the air, those notes the cello produces. Once heard, they are not forgotten. Tomorrow I will finish the undoing and begin again, begin anew, and Cecelia will find her true face, and I will better see my own reflection in the mirror.
Sweet dreams to all of you who are still up. The dogs and I are going to bed.