Monday, March 30, 2015

Loving Your Limits!

by Carol

Zentangle Class - 9 People , using the exact same shapes

There has been a lot of talk in recent posts here, about the struggle to remain creative and original, to keep producing, to avoid ruts and get out of slumps.  I just listened to a program that was so full of inspiration that it shamed me for ever feeling like I was out of ideas. 

Phil Hansen's life was all about art. Well along in art school, his medium was pointillism. He created beautiful canvases by making thousands of tiny dots. But the cosmos had other plans for Phil, and he developed a substantial tremor in his hands that prevented him from holding a pencil. He was crushed. He left art school, and stopped creating art altogether. He tried to explain to his neurologist the impact this particular affliction had on his life, but the neurologist simply said - why don't you just embrace the shake?

Phil continued to mourn the loss of his art, but eventually he got himself back to an art store and bought loads of supplies in order to find a new path. He describes sitting down with his array of supplies, newly energized to work around his disability and free from the constraints of art school for the first time, and he had ....nothing. He was paralyzed by the choices - just creatively paralyzed - until one day, he remembered his neurologist's advice - embrace the shake. And that is when his mind just opened up and his art blossomed. It occurred to him that rather than live within his expectations, why not explore his limitations! 

What if - he thought. What if  I combined squiggles instead of points? What if  I could only afford to use a dollar's worth of art supplies? What if  I could only paint on my chest? What if  I painted with karate chops? Here's one I love: What if  I had to depend on other people's input?  I cannot even begin to describe how he answered these questions within his art!  Here is a link to his Ted Talk, where you can see all of the stunning creations he found within his limitations.

In the journey he discusses last, Phil made destructible art - creating things he knew would not last. Do you hate to cull your Lightroom catalogue, and throw away those images you worked so hard on? Or have you had a computer issue where you lost work you were attached to? I find it so painful! But here is Phil's take-away:

"As I destroyed each project, I was learning to let go. Let go of outcomes, let go of failures, and let go of imperfections." He describes a state of perpetual  creation - "thinking only of what's next and coming up with more ideas than ever." He says that "embracing the shake....turned out to be about life skills. Because ultimately, most of what we do takes place.....with limited resources."

Kim Klassen recently educated me about Wabi-Sabi - the concept of the perfectly imperfect.  John Lennon told us that "life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."  Phil Hansen says "we need first to become limited in order to be limitless." To me this all speaks about knowing yourself so well that you can't help but express your true vision in your art. Maybe we are all putting undue pressure on ourselves to measure up to standards that come from somewhere else. So this week, and always,  I encourage you to stop the comparisons , the insecurities, the standard setting - and express yourself. It's nothing new - it's that old sixties poster about being the best you that you can be. No one is as good at your vision as you are. 

To each his own vision!

This week in our gallery - give us - you on a plate - in YOUR opinion, the best picture you took this week - no matter what it's subject. I can't wait to meet you!


heyjudephotography said...

Such an inspiring post Carol, and certainly an eye-opener! It is so difficult to just let ourselves be ourselves, and to stop comparing and worrying what others may think of our creations. I admire this man, Phil Hansen. I will try to breathe in his bravery and tenacity and try to be even just a little bit like him! Thank you for sharing this Carol. (and I love these Zentangles! After seeing yours the other day I gave it a try, and I love it!! I will definitely do them again.)

CarolHart said...

Great post. I challenge is to see ourselves for who we really are and not run away! Love that picture of the group at the end. Awesome looking group of women!

terriporter said...

Oh, the comparison game! We all play it and I'm sure we are all the worse for it. The times I enjoy my art the most, and am the most creative, is when I am not trying to be like anybody else and just express what I see in the way I want to express it. I had never heard of Zentangles before you posted about them and they are fascinating! Will have to explore that more. And the group shot -- ah, it does my heart so much good whenever I see us all together doing our thing. Doesn't get any better than that!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful story! It sure makes you stop and think about all the times of giving up, when really all you have to do is think outside the box! And such an amazing artist! Thanks for sharing, Carol!

Dotti said...

Such great inspiration and challenges in this post! To work within ourselves, forget the comparison game and just keep creating for the joy of it. Excellent! And, oh, yes! The beautiful reminder of our time spent together.

Roxi Hardegree said...

This so good Carol! Shame on us for sure. Can't wait to go here the TED talk.

kelly said...

wow. I feel like I just had a big kick in the pants. and I mean that if the VERY BEST way! :) expectation and comparison has done more damage to my art than anything anyone has ever said. thanks for the reminder to let that go!

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