Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bike Gears (in progress), and an Eric Maisel exercise

I'm painting this one for a friend who rides bikes a lot. I told him about this concept and he seemed intrigued. Fortunately, we both like intense colors. This is not one of my fruit or flowers paintings. All honor to them, they've been painted for millenia for perfectly good reasons. But I like that this is pushing me to stretch a bit. By the way, this is canvas taped to a board. I'll be cropping and stretching it later.

I enjoy how this mixes realism with abstract. In fact, I'm feeling drawn to more abstract work recently, and when I look at paintings from long ago (I had a break in my painting) I see some hints of them in what's coming out. I guess that's part of finding your voice.

I was reading into Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. (Tarcher/Putnam 1995) and encountered this:

Trance and Untrance

High joy is to enter into the trance of working with a rich, clear idea (or in rich relationship to the work-to-be), and then work effortlessly, entranced, until, hours later, you merge with an increment of work completely done, whole, intact, unmarred, right, beautiful.

Doesn't that sound nice? Isn't it amazing when you can reach that point? The exercise goes on:

... Practice in the following way. Get some paper, an ink wash, and a brush. Hush, hold, and begin to meet the paper, but with your eyes shut. Feel entranced, follow an idea, work with no idea. Work until your self-consciousness evaporates.

Now ready yourself to stop. In this readying moment, you must watch your self-talk, for most people prepare in this pre-appraising moment to criticize themselves. Hold the following affirmation: "I am happy to look." Look. Look both gently and firmly. Is it a mess? Fine. Is there an amazing accident, a handful of strokes like a beautiful crane? Fine. Either result is all right.

Count to ten and as you count make a decision, whether you will work on the crane or whether you will toss away this sheet of paper. Count with an easy and not a heavy heart; either decision is fine. Do not frighten yourself by saying, "If I touch the crane, I'll ruin it." Do not harm yourself by saying, "I certainly screwed that up." Hold that you want to return to the trance of working because you love it there.

At the count of ten, work again. Recover your trance state. Practice this exercise as many times as you can. It is vitally important that you learn how to recover this trance state and return to work, even after you have looked the work in the eye.

I haven't read the whole book but I like this. I like it because I don't take time to play. I find myself always painting for someone else, for eBay, for my blog. Going public is a two-edged sword (most swords are two edged): You want the accountability and the feedback and support, but you also get performance anxiety. Somewhere in there you need to figure out what's true for you.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book and it looks like you are having fun.

  2. Connie, what a cool painting. Has an industrial look to it. And this book sounds amazing. Thanks for posting quotes. Very interesting.

    I'm the same way about feeling performance anxiety when painting, because the blog is always in the back of my mind.