THE RETURN OF FLAVIA

Flavia is restless again and I don’t know what to do. I’ve recently taken to strange fits of rocking and bouts of getting up and needing to move around, without purpose or understanding. Most of the time, all I can think about is creating something, and yet I don’t know what to create. I have started a few projects and they have sadly felt like regurgitations of old work—never very inspiring or inspired.

Maybe it’s okay though. Creation is truly a process. All the mediocre gunk has to come out and make room for the amazing. It’s just how it is. The expulsion of literal shit always does feel a bit disgusting and that is just part of the creative process I think. If you have an animal, you need to clean up her poop every day, even if snuggles with her at night make it all worth it.

I feel a bit like there is a fire burning inside of me. I know that sounds silly like something from a poem, or something Al Pacino would say—or if not say, then he’d be thinking or feeling it. Doesn’t it always seem like his insides are kind of on fire a little? I feel something stirring and it doesn’t feel comfortable.

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Image obtained from here

Some artist quotes that I can relate to at the moment:

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” -James Baldwin

“I had so much fire in me and so many plans.” -Claude Monet

“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness”. -Joan Miro.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” -Michelangelo

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” -Albert Einstein

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Joan Miro’s quote hit me the hardest. So true for my process. So difficult to manage that fire and not allow it to take over during the creative process. It can’t be a sloppy explosion on the page. It has to be thoughtful and channeled into something great. The raw fire never works in art, I don’t think. That fire needs the artist to tame it somehow and still keep it alive. Very difficult to do. Image: Woman, Bird, and Star [Homage to Picasso] by Joan Miró, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

I need to create today. I need to go home and create. But I’m scared. I’ve been obsessed with my old work lately. Like obsessively in love with it. Like pining for it. And that’s amazing on one hand, but on the other hand, it keeps me terrified to create new things. The biggest fear as an artist is worrying that the last good thing I created was the last good thing I’ll ever create; and that every attempt moving forward will just be a sad stab at trying to achieve something that I just don’t have in me anymore, that no longer exists.

I think Flavia and I (if you don’t know who Flavia is, you can read my earlier blog post to meet her and get to know her a bit first) are working a little better together these days. Either I have taken on more of her energy, or she has taken on more of mine. Either way, I don’t feel like I’m at odds with her as much and I think I can maybe work with her a little better now and find a way to give her what she needs. What does she need though?

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Perro Aullando [Yelping Dog], 1960 by Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899-1991), Color lithograph, Art © Tamayo Heirs / Mexico / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Minneapolis Institute of Art.

I think she needs to do something she’s never done before. She’s not stupid and she’s not dull. She gets bored really very easily and repetition actually makes her a bit angry. She needs new. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good or bad new, it just needs to be fresh and she’ll be fine.

The need for new is scary also. This goddess can get comfortable with the same steady and secure flow. Mixing things up is always a bit dangerous. What if things go terribly and failingly awful? And yet, even this goddess knows that the stuff that art is made of is monumentally and crushingly groundbreaking. It must be. Flavia will make me brave.

I feel like Martin Short in Innerspace. If you have never seen this 1987 film, I’ll give you the brief scoop. Martin Short is this mousy, every day guy (this goddess can’t relate to that, but just go with this analogy for a sec) and he’s accidentally been injected with a miniaturized machine piloted by Dennis Quaid, an experimental scientist who was expecting to be injected into a rabbit. Dennis Quaid has the balls of the pair and over the course of the movie, gives Martin Short that bit of umph and confidence he was always lacking. In turn, Martin Short protects Dennis Quaid and aids him in returning to the real world, safely and soundly. Still, the entire process for Martin Short is literally painful, uncomfortable, unnatural, and he resists the reality of his situation for much of the movie, making his life more difficult. Once he finally lets go, both of them begin to help each other. It’s kind of a brilliant movie that everyone should watch.

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Film still from Innerspace. Watch a 2-minute clip from the movie here.

Anyway, Flavia must make me brave, like Dennis Quaid did for Martin Short. Flavia’s not scared. Not in the least. And I’m not so scared that I can’t move forward. I just hope it all goes well. And I know I’ll feel better once I create something that makes sense of all of this mess. Once I create something that is new and fresh and opens me up a bit, Flavia will relax, I know it. I just have to give her what she needs tonight and hope she doesn’t injure me in the process. It might feel like shit coming out or it might feel flowing and amazing. I have no idea and won’t know until I start.

I will let you know how it goes and get back to you soon…