A warm welcome to Touching the Creative Fire…. the space where I explore my experience in the Creative Process
In this post I’ll be introducing the idea of the artist as a two-in-one person as something I’ve experienced.
I hope you enjoyed the wonderful sunshine of our summer months. I spent most of my time in my courtyard working on my horse sculpture. I didn’t get much writing done but absorbed a great deal of sunshine. Wonderful! Autumn will is here as is the time to return to indoor activities. It’s also a time to renew beginnings.
For those new to my post, let me introduce myself. My name is Marie Laywine. I am an artist. I am a painter.
In my painting I work with what I call the “interior landscape”; I use images and ideas from my dreams to help represent visually the mountain ranges and coastal plains inside a person and my imagination.
In my previous post, I touched on the idea of the personal ego withdrawing to allow the creative ego to come forward. This is an integral part of my Creative Process.
For me, when this happens I leave my everyday world and move into my inner world.
As I was writing about the change that takes place within me in this process, I became aware of living in two separate worlds: an everyday world and an inner world.
The part of me lives and works in my everyday world is the part of me that inhabits my body. It’s the part of me that gets me up in the morning. It’s the part of me that physically moves me around in the world. It’s the doing part of this duo; it physical and its experiences are physical. It’s the part that looks after everyday stuff. In my everyday mode, I work with facts and the facts determine the possibilities.
The other part of me inhabits my inner world. It’s the part of me that lives in my imagination. It’s the part that works with ideas; it’s intuitive and responds intuitively. It is informed by what it knows as its own truth within any given moment. In my inner world mode, I work with possibilities and override the facts.
This way of being is what I call my two-in-one person system. For me this means that the content of one world is not shared with the other. Both systems are closed to each other and I’m in either one or the other.
I explored two of my paintings titled, “ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS NO’s 1 and 2 to clarify how I created my system and how it works for me.
I make use of a window in both paintings. A window is an opening that allows me to look out or to look in. The glass in the window separates one possibility from the other. My view will depend on which side of the glass I’m on.
TITLE: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS NO. 1
DIMENSIONS: 66cms (h) X 48.5cms (W) unframed
MEDIA: acrylic on laminated rice paper
This is a medium sized painting. The predominant colour is dark green that forms the border that encloses the painting. the dark green border is interspersed with small flecks of red paint. There is a lot of white, some orange, yellow and black.There is a strong horizontal line intersected by a vertical one creating four panels. The white in the upper two and bottom panels create the impression of a curtain. The curtain-like effect bisects just above the centre of the two intersecting lines which creates a large triangle. The colours within the triangle are a mixture of yellow and orange. Seated within this triangle are two figures who appear to be facing each other.The gaze of the figure on the right is directed to its left.The gaze of the figure on the right of the painting is directed to its left.The vertical line separates the figure on the left of the painting from the one on the right. The horizontal line separates the top of the painting from the bottom.
The painting, I feel is an image of a traditional window presenting a traditional way of looking out.
TITLE: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS NO 2
DIMENSIONS: 22cms (H) x 30.5cms (W) unframed
MEDIA: acrylic on board
This is a smaller painting. The painting presents a different image and different figures at a different window.
The painting surface is made up of yellow, red, green, and black colours. The window is loosely constructed by the two horizontal black lines with a shorter vertical one on the upper left of the painting.The two black horizontal lines create two rectangular panels filled with bright yellow colour. This is the focal part of the painting and is slightly off-centre.The yellow colour from the two rectangular panels is reflected on the extended right arm of a figure that’s not well defined on the left side of the painting. The undefined figure is facing forward and its gaze is directed into the yellow colour.On the right of the undefined figure is a red mask-like head. The mask-like head is facing the undefined figure and its gaze is directed to its left.On the bottom right of this painting is a well defined body-like figure in black.The figure is seated and leaning slightly forward. Its neck is slightly sunken while its head is tilted slightly backward.
The space in the painting is not well defined because it is representative of an imaginary world where boundaries and shapes tend to shift. The figures appear independent of each other and their gaze, respectively, is directed in different directions.
Both paintings, as the title suggests have an interior and exterior side created by the use of a window and its glass as a separator.
Glass in impenetrable; one can only see through it.
In painting NO 1, the two figures are at the window and looking out. The gaze in this painting is outward only.
In painting NO 2, the two figures are at the window and looking in. The gaze in this painting is inward only.
My new understanding of the two-part system I use is that I do to myself what the glass in the window does; I separate one world from the other limiting my gaze to a one-sided focus.
At the time, the separation I created fulfilled a massive need in me due to the problem I had in my relationship with my mother.
My two part system allowed me to carry out my mother’s expectations in my everyday world. At the same time, the separation kept my inner world safe and secret from her.
I also feel that the need to separate one from the other happened at a very early age. I recall the moment really well, and yes, I was very young; too young to understand what or how I should be to fulfil my mother’s expectations. I could not grasp any understanding of what it was about me and my imagination that was a problem for her.
On the day and in the moment of separation, part of me died.
A glass partition went up to protect the remains of my shattered and traumatized self that was not acceptable to her.
The raging anger and resentment I felt towards her went unsaid behind the glass.
Thus, I was able to retain a safe position in my everyday world; a concern for every young child. I was safe but emotionally incapacitated.
From the moment the separation occurred, the contents of my inner world no longer made an appearance in my everyday world.
In my early teen years I experienced the early beginning of my first conscious awareness of what had happened to me. I may have been younger. I remember vividly being bogged down in the circumstances of my everyday world.
My mother had become terminally ill. My responsibilities in the home had increased.
I found the waiting for her death, the silence, the greyness of the situation weighing heavily on my spirit and on my shoulders.
I was drowning in despair.
The high intensity of the moment and the strong emotion of despair presented me with a dream-like glimpse. It was as though a door and through it I was able to see and feel the horror, the shock of the trauma caused by the separation of my two selves. I saw and re-experienced the part of me that had died.
I saw and felt my unexpressed anger and resentment. I also saw that an expression of these feeling would make my situation worse.
I also saw that the sacrifice I had made for my mother who is now dying and would soon abandon me once again in this forsaken landscape.
The rage directed at the unfairness of it all became overwhelming. I saw it and felt the helplessness I had experienced in both moments; my young self and my teen-age self.
In that particular moment, I felt what it was like to be behind the glass. I understood it. I could not verbalize the destruction that had taken place within my being.
I could only see through the glass and what I saw was not available to me. I could not touch. I could not be touched. It was dark and cold. My body was paralyzed with a blank, unthinking mind. No one was there. I heard no sound but the thrumming in my ears. The beat in the thrumming was loud, steady and kept time with the mounting tension. I am speechless.
I am dead.
In contrast, when I’m in my inner world I am living in my imagination where anything can happen and the possibilities are limitless. I feel the light. I feel the warmth. I trust my endless supply of inner resources.I’m excited about the ideas and the possibility that exists within my grasp. I sit and wait. I listen. I follow.And at the same time I feel the barrier that keeps me here.
It’s like a prison with invisible walls.
But, I am alive.
I supported this dichotomy by creating two spaces.
One was a studio for my inner world where I lived and worked as an artist. The second space was a home for my everyday world where I lived and worked as a person accepted by my community. Both spaces are safe.
As my exploration into my two-part system broadened, I discovered a discrepancy; I valued, overly my inner world while diminishing the everyday one. My inner world was given the preferred space and priority in the order of my day. On the other hand, my everyday world was given the tolerated position of ‘poor relation’
I discovered a major drawback to my two-part system; I place myself in a self-limiting position. Neither of my two worlds is able to operate at full capacity,
And I use a lot of energy to keep the two separated.
I operate creatively only in my inner world and leave the other limited aspect of myself to face the drudgery of my everyday world.
The result is that in each world I operate as a one-sided, flat figure with a fixed focus that is either inward or outward.
As usual there is an exception to the statement I just made. There have been exceptional moments when my inner world with all of its creativity came together with my everyday world. These moment are few and far in between and created such an impact in my life that these events are remembered with great fondness.
My new understanding of the process of my two-part system opened another window. In this one I saw a mature person. I saw a person with sophisticated skills to deal with social situations and problem solving. I saw and recognized the discrepancy between the two; what I did then and what I would do now with the same challenge.
It didn’t require much imagination on my part to see that my whole system needed updating, preferably sooner than later because it was long overdue.
It never occurred to me that I could change this situation.
TITLE: THE SHATTERING OF THE GLASS
DIMENSIONS: 54cms (h) x 39cms (H) unframed
MEDIA: graphite on paper
The shattering of the glass was not an idea of change that had occurred to me. It was an external event in a creative setting that relaxed the boundaries enough to allow my two worlds to collide causing the shattering of the glass. The shattering allowed the bleeding of one world into the other.
At that moment I ceased to exist as a two-in-one person. I was stripped naked. I was disorientated. I was in shock.
On one level I was conscious that something monumental had happened. On another level, I could not identify the meaning behind the experience.
For almost a year, I lived in a disorientated state not knowing who I was anymore.
Then I discovered blogging and writing.
I started to write about what I found behind the imagery of my paintings.
In the process of writing I discovered that it wasn’t enough to be intuitive. I had to find words to describe what I had produced. I found that I needed to be precise and factual. At the same time I had to scour the depths of the feelings associated with the impetus that drove the making of the image. I was using words to describe what I had experienced intuitively while creating the image.
In doing so, the amalgamation of the two spaces became a literal and physical reality while writing.
I found myself taking a closer look at my past work. My intuitive process began to select the paintings most appropriate for my exploration. In the process of selecting images for exploration, I discovered that my two worlds slowly began to merge into one. The input from both worlds is required; my inner world selects the images and my everyday world records the facts.
The opening of the memory that held the process of separation created a window where I saw how young I was when I decided to separate my two worlds. I saw that the decision fulfilled a need in that period of my life. I saw that this was the best I could manage with the immature skills I possessed.
As a now integrated person my life is less conflicted. It will take time to fully integrate
Most important is that I’ve lifted from my shoulders the oppression that accompanied my closed system.
I’m discovering that writing is one space where integration happens spontaneously.
I feel I’ve come home.
October 9, 2016