The Path to Acceptance (Needs Bushwhacking)

Various projects – vector design (’09), ink illustration (’09), watercolour painting (’97)

This is what I do.
This is what I am.
And maybe if I repeat that often enough, I will believe it.
Though The Man suggested something wonderfully wise: Belief isn’t the issue. Acceptance is.

The past couple of weeks have delivered completely unexpected and schema-shattering messages from people whose opinions mean a buttload to me. People who I admire for their abilities, which far outweigh mine from my point of view. Comments about my creativity and ability that have honestly knocked me on my ass.

I call myself an artist, but artists produce.
I call myself creative, but I am usually inspired from outside.
I call myself a fraud.

I need a new perspective.

Yes, my output is loooooooow, but each piece is outstanding (when viewed from enough emotional distance). I’ve reviewed the few pieces I’ve done over the years and have access to with open eyes and am amazed. The painting above was the first and only time I’ve ever used watercolours. That in itself is worthy of praise and recognition (from myself). The character design below is one of 21 sketches that I banged out in the space of maybe 2 hours total, each one with the same proportions and personality.

Many times my inspiration comes from outside my head… initially. But once I’m done with it, it is truly mine. I realise that a similar melody runs through each of the pieces I’ve selected here: the “trance” state. I distinctly remember not being completely in control when doing these. The vectors were done over the period of a week of 18-hour days. I paused briefly to eat and sleep only. I remember viewing the painting from a somewhat detached distance while it was happening, marveling at what was happening under the brush. The pencil drawing below (mmmmm, Johnny) started… and then it was done. I don’t know what happened in between.

I have been ridden by the Muse. The evidence is right there. I just have to accept; unbolt the door. I am only a fraud in that I deny myself what I so desperately crave and what is so obviously there for the having.

Various projects – pencil drawing (’98), vector design (’09), character design (’09)

It’s all fine and good to be so focused and clear and rational in the daylight, but it always ends up in the same 9 of Swords place (I don’t know where the whole “tortured artist” thing got it’s reputation for being so cool and awesome and inspiring, because it SUCKS!) Sooooo, I’m thinking I’ll play along with established patterns and use tarot to guide me when the wheels fall off! If writers can do it, why can’t artists? Right before I went to bed last night I consulted the Fantastical Creatures Tarot on the matter. Just a 3-card draw, open to interpretation (and can I just rave again about how fantastically lovely Lisa Hunt’s artwork is? LOVE!):

[1] 9 of Swords – Harpies

Hilarious, right? 9 of Swords; my theme song (*ominous background music*). Harpies are the embodiment of the most destructive nature of wind. Yup, that about sums it up. They’re usually sent by the gods to torture those who attract their attention in the wrong way (which, when it comes to the Greek gods, is pretty much any way). Their name means “snatchers” and that’s what the 9S does: it snatches everything good away from you. They seem especially mocking in this card. interestingly, Harpies were once associated with Athena on her bad days; another war-like goddess of the mind. The LWB links past lives and karmic debt to this card. Something to explore? I’m going with this card as where I’m moving from.

[2] 7 of Wands – Valkyries

On the other hand, we have the Valkyries, sent to collect warriors fallen in battle and deliver them to an afterlife of non-stop brawling and boozing (the Vikings were a simple people, with simple needs). I like the way she’s charging towards the Harpies. Better flap away, bitches! The Valkyries selected the bravest of the slain for Odin’s feast table… To get to where I’m going, I’m going to have to let things go, sacrifice and very likely die a little (or a lot). It will take courage and bravery, but the rewards are tremendous. The LWB defines this as a card of success and dreams achieved, after a time of struggle.

[3] Death – Anansi

One of the original trickster gods. Hmm. This is almost a “be careful what you ask for” kind of transformation… and it confirms the 7W “death” theme. We’ve got the spider and the snake here – both symbols of wisdom and Anansi is indeed seen as a bringer of wisdom (though he originally tried to hoard it all for himself) and a creator god. Snakes shed. It is a necessary process for them to grow and heal old wounds. The LWB talks about this card as being a sign that illusions are going to be stripped away and unforeseen drastic changes are a-comin’.

Time to strap in! Time – and Valkyries – wait for no man, least of all emo artists crying in a corner (Odin doesn’t want me for a raincloud!)

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15 thoughts on “The Path to Acceptance (Needs Bushwhacking)

  1. Celeste says:

    Your work really is something! It’s unique, it’s obviously very well done, and you know this!

    You’re right…perspective is everything. Acceptance is everything. Output doesn’t matter. Although you might feel better if you made more things, simply because you might feel more ‘unstuck’ energy-wise. It is hard to eek out only a few pieces now and again–even if they’re spectacular, because it’s as if you save up all that energy and it’s like not pooping very often–you get constipated.

    Sorry…horrible example.

    I’m tired. :D

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    • submerina says:

      No – perfect example! I can’t tell you how often I’ve referred to myself as being “creatively constipated”. I don’t know why I’m so utterly paralysed. I’d do more if I… just… could. But I’m getting close to an understanding of that particular barred door and why it’s so closely guarded. Know any good brain laxatives? ;)

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      • Celeste says:

        Laugh. I have my own various mental constipations and cancers. It is hard to say, but I know this: just pushing through things and not stagnating is helpful.

        I went through a time period where I barely made anything, and I even tried to reject creativity altogether, until I realized how foolish that idea was.

        I started by teaching art classes, oddly! Then I moved on to making my own things again. Something about encouraging other people creatively that helped me get unstuck myself.

        Setting goals for yourself, though cliche, is also very helpful. Say that you’ll finish this or that before the end of the month, for example. Write it down! It helps me. Self-imposed goals are great for self-flagellating artists life ourselves. Then at least you feel some sense of accomplishment.

        Anyway…you seem to already be loosening up creatively so this response is late. Sorry…I meant to check earlier.

        Hugs :D

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    • submerina says:

      Tee hee… I’m renaming it the “Awesome Ocean Tarot” :D Right now, the images that are coming out are more “The Ocean of Horror and Scary Things” though.

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    • submerina says:

      This is the weird thing: the more I’m figuring out what it is, the less I’m convinced that it’s “doubt”. I think it’s almost closer to “denial” which is even more disturbing. But you have to name your monsters in order to slay them!

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  2. Kafka's Ghost says:

    wowwowWOW! You know I have to recommend a whole list of books but perhaps that is the problem. Not enough do-do. And I think the best thing you can do (besides your own g-damned amazing work) is what you’ll be doing in July. ;)

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    • submerina says:

      Oh go on, enable me. I promise to put the books on my shelf and not read them ;) I’m practising getting my mind still so that I don’t “waste” any precious Vipassana time in July. Typical. Who prepares for Vipassana??? Which reminds me – you need to give me the Cliff Notes version ha ha!

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  3. erishilton says:

    Non-creatives don’t always grasp how precarious a balance it can be at times… Tortured artists are clichés for a reason. There is some truth to that struggle. You know. I know. You know?

    You have a gift. The only thing you can do wrong is not use it for something that will make you truly happy.

    Or else… ;)

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    • submerina says:

      You _know_ I know, you know? “Just pick up a pencil and draw something then.” How ’bout I pick up this pencil and STAB YOU IN THE NECK??? Le sigh. There’s no coincidence to Temperance being called “Art” by Uncle Al.

      Tell me more about this “or else”… maybe you can scare me out of my cage? ;)

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  4. Paul Fergus says:

    Strange, that you should resist yourself so hard when part of you already accepts and believes.

    All of us start at Level zero on the scale; begin in ignorance and emerge in branches from the seed of who we are. That can be scary and it can wreak havoc with the image we have of ourselves.

    Outside viewpoints can manifest to tell us our level of development doesn’t count. Whatever. I mean yeah, there’s various levels of effectiveness and exploration but that has to be allowed to resolve without coercion and repression.

    You’re already there; this is process you are tumbling through. Between the monster and the rocks that tear people apart all the time without a trace. Isn’t it terrible? Isn’t it glorious? Isn’t it needed by all of us? You aren’t alone in swirling, swimming and gasping for breath–for a moment of clarity that will make sense of it.

    So dance; accept and not-accept, believe and not-believe. That’s where the work gets done.

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    • submerina says:

      Welcome, and thank you! You’re absolutely right about part of me being there already; I have a very strong gatekeeper. I’m working on figuring out a suitable distraction to lure it away long enough for a new order to be established! Some well-placed havoc is much-needed :) It’s a weird cycle of resistance and self-punishment and not believing my voice is valid. I’m dancing it out, improvising.

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  5. submerina says:

    A big, glorious thank you to everyone! It’s always a bit weird to make a post like this; to not make it seem like “fishing”, but I remind myself that this is a journal and so I include anything I would add to a paper journal. It’s also very helpful in teaching me to “speak” , rather than keep swallowing – choking – it down. I am grateful to have you all along for the ride :)

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