I don’t begin with an idea, I begin with a feeling.
Lately I have been thinking that I don’t deserve the praise that people share with me about how my work affects them. They are full of praise and I thank them but the plain truth is, I haven’t been doing my real work. I feel like a fake. Maybe my best work is behind me? Am I worthy? Oh, these doubts that come up are so tiresome. I don’t know If I am worthy but I will not let these uncertainties stop me. I never have and I never will.
A lot of things are on my mind. Worries of one kind or another, not least of which is the fact that it has been a while since I have worked on a monoprint in my own studio, by myself. It is amazing that being an artist/business person/and teacher, keeps me away from my real work as an artist. Supply and demand, demand and supply. It is nice to be able to make a living as an artist, but its weird that this keeps me from my work in the studio. I take a deep breath and let it all go because this is sacred studio time and there is no room for second guessing or doubts, or worries.
Today I light and burn sage to set my mind and body at ease. I ring my sweet bell to bring me into this present moment. I breathe deep. Finally, I have a day with no demands on my time. I make a prayer for my work and set a silent intention to be here now. For this is my path to the sacred. An art prayer. Allowing the ink to speak to me and bring forth something that I need to know right now. To let magic happen if it will. I begin with a large plate, 18 X 24. I haven’t done a large print in a while. I know that it is a major commitment of time and physical energy. The nice thing about it is that working large gives me room to draw. And so I begin.
I am scraping the ink on the plexiglass plate with a palette knife and turning the plate around and around making marks and sliding the ink across the plexiglass plate. With a brayer I roll on black ink, here and there, giving the drawing a little depth. Shapes are beginning to emerge for me and I see an eye and a black snout but I feel that there is something more. There are two images that occur, a bear and a dog. An hour or two have gone by and I am starting to feel a bit anxious. I don’t know which to choose, or perhaps there is something else that I can’t see yet. I breathe and know this is the process. It has always been the process and always will be the process. Slow and wrenching. I am sure about one thing and that is, I trust myself and what will come. I trust my process. In my head I am saying to myself “It is okay, everything is fine. Just breathe and trust.”
Finally after looking at the plate from many different angles, I choose the dog
I immediately know in my body that it is not the right choice. This is hard to describe but sometimes I find my way by a wrong choice. I will have to reroute the drawing and inking by wiping and adding, while not losing the thread of what I have and see on the plate. At this point, what this is, is still emerging out of chaos. I am trying to breathe an decide how to do this when I am interrupted by a visit from my daughter and and baby Esme` and three year old Jasper. It is a short visit. I love them so much and I always love a visit. I hate to tell them that I am in the middle of something in the studio. They understand. From the distraction and break I worry that I will lose my momentum with the piece. Wow, those tiresome old worries never give up. I do not allow myself to worry or panic. I am determined that the image will be there.
It was actually good to step away from the piece because this allowed me to have a fresh perspective when I returned to the work. I am still in what I call, art head, or perhaps its the zone, or where the luminous door opens to allow the conversation with the art soul, or heart soul. It’s like I am a little sideways. I am looking ahead but I am seeing with different eyes. Art eyes. A part of me is inside the drawing or the image that is trying to emerge. I am trying to hear and see with different senses. I know that I know how to save and use my mistake of my dog choice. I dive back in to curiosity to see what will happen. I go back to the eye and the snout but most importantly, the eye. I have decided to bring the bear back to the front. Bear in a boat.
The eye stays. It is my life line to the emerging story. This is the right direction because my body says yes. I spend the next 5 hours drawing and coaxing the image with a black brayer, a fork, a rubber pencil tip, and Q tips. I add ink and then wipe it away. This is a bit like sculpting.
Definitely a boat. I wonder what Bear is holding in his/her lap. What is the story. I breathe, I relax, I stop myself from thinking. I breathe into my belly. Trees come into my mind and my body says yes. A tree, or trees. What about a forest? Yes. Now it is starting to flow. What about a companion. Raven. Is that an angel, planet, or moon above raven. I am not sure.
I see creatures emerging in the forest and birds in the trees. I don’t want to do much more to the drawing on the plate. I like the freshness of the lines and the texture of the ink. I like leaving some mystery. I like the feel of it. It is time to pull a print.
Here is the print:
So far this is what the piece has told me:
Bear in Mind – Bear and Raven float on a cosmic sea of wonder and shifting possibilities. Bear is the universal seed star within the cosmic womb of life and Bear carries the heart garden and soul forest within her body for safe keeping. She is attuned to the music of the spheres and knows her way by the pathways created from the cosmic dance of life coming in and out of existence through the upheaval of exploding stars. Ah, this is the way of it. Holding on and staying together through the sea change, no matter what, we are in this boat together.
Once I have pulled the print there is still an image and ink left on the plate. I add a little more black ink with a small brayer to some areas that need it like the crow/raven. It has been a very long day. I roll the oily blue ink over the plate to protect it until tomorrow when I will be adding more drawing and color. I am excited to see where this piece will take me tomorrow.