Thursday, June 21, 2012

Surface Tension

"Surface Tension" - Lily Pads from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens 2011

In today's digital art : Surface Tension, I notice how the lily pads are clearly the subject. They are on the surface, after all. But they would be uninteresting without the royal blue of the sky and opalescent clouds floating behind them. Yet even these are actually indirect clues to a mysterious depth that lies beneath. It can be very hard to even recognize that there is something OTHER than the surface.

This week echoed the subject of the last post, that of trying to hear and heed the spirit within when so much good sense is shouting even from within your own head. In early 2011 I took on newsletter duties for our local artist group. They needed the service and I had the skill set to deliver it. It offered the opportunity to learn a new piece of software, InDesign, and much to my surprise it invigorated the membership to a shocking degree. Not a meeting goes by that several people don't rave about how good the newsletter is, how they look forward to receiving it each month. I loved doing it, though it was a frightful amount of work, 12-15 hours on each monthly issue.

I accepted the duties for 2012 of course, but this week I announced to the board that I would be trimming back on the content. By the end of the year the membership would be accustomed to a simpler document that most anyone could replicate in Word or Front Page or whatever they wanted to use. I would not be continuing these duties in 2013, nor did I want to be on the nominating committee for next year's officers.

Why? Was it something they said? No. It's just that club concerns (there have been others) have filled so much of my thoughts, even the little bits between tasks, that I have not spared enough thought for painting or any creative endeavor. I have nothing at all to present at the member show-and-tell, nothing for the fall show. I am sorely missing the creative challenge and personal development. Why did I allow myself to take this side road? Because I was being useful, and that felt good. It fed the lizard, the one who worries constantly that if one is not delivering quantifiable value to an audience then you do not deserve your living. Being useful here justified myself as a citizen of the community. This 'useful' tank has been hanging on empty for a long time. What I learned, finally, is that the creative tank needs to be refilled even more than the useful tank. I used to be able to fill both from my job. For a while now it's been neither. For a while I chose to fill 'useful'. It fed the ego, but it didn't feed the spirit. Now I know the importance of creative activity for my vitality.

You can see in this week's decision the influence of the previous two posts: The perennially human quest for the Grail and Joel Osteen's reminder: You cannot please everyone. Keep your focus on pleasing God.

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