Friday, June 20, 2008

Artist As Personal Trainer

Back to the jungle, this tangle of palms.

This area must go much darker.

This area I must leave alone.

And this I must tame a bit, but not too much.

I was getting too tight with this painting and the small blackberry piece as well. Progressing, but getting tight and tense. That is not good. This tangle of greens is to be a meditative piece with hints of the call of the wild. The lavenders are celestial. The browns are grounded to earth. All the bits here and there are to call to primal self. And somehow it must have transcendence. So even when refining, even when being exact, tight is not good.

A few years ago, I had a personal trainer. Ahh, life was good. Neal kicked my butt, repeatedly. We did Super Slow weight training. In a 30 minute session we would work my muscles to total exhaustion. I mean total exhaustion, the kind where you have to sit down afterwards or fall over like a little baby. Each machine we used was loaded and set so that in just a few ( read grueling) reps, we had shaking, quivering,"Uh, Neal , I can't do any more", me. That's when Neal would lean in a little closer, look me in the eye, and say, "Jan, I know you can do it, just one more." Neal lied. There was always one more after that, and then another. We only stopped when the muscles would not move. My mind wanted to go on, my heart wanted to continue, but my muscles were having no more. That's when nice Neal (as opposed to devil Neal) would reappear, and say, "Whoa, we're there." (Don't even get me started telling you about crunches and squats.)

I miss Neal. Not only was my body in great shape, but my mind was right there with it. After those sessions came the water, the rest, the recuperation that gave me springy, relaxed muscles that could move mountains. And Neal believed in me so much, that I did too, even if I wasn't a superjock. That's powerful, that belief.

So here we have me, no personal trainer, and painting muscles that are way too wonky and tight, and a mind that is quickly going there too. What to do, what to do? I don't want so so paintings. I want fabulous work. So I set about artistically and physically loosening up. Painting silk is a physical task. Oh, it is artistic and free for me, but very physical. So after a few days of painting big, loose, and abstract for long hours, I am a bit, hm, fatigued, but in a good way. And I feel looser. Tired. Well, really tired, but ready for water, rest, and recuperation. And the palms and blackberries, I am excited about them again. I see some new things there. Some ideas for transcendence.

Sometimes artists have to be their own personal trainers. We have to keep ourselves fluid. Work out the kinks. So, a little water, a small rest, some recuperation and I'll be good to paint again. And yes, I hear Neal saying,"Jan, you can do it." Yep, belief, is a powerful thing. (Thanks Neal)

Don't forget, it is Naughty Friday, go get up to some mischief.


ParisBreakfasts said...

I like what George Balanchine said to Jerome Robbins,
"Just keep doing and doing, and every now and then you'll hit it"
My motto too :)

Janice C. Cartier said...

Ooh, I like that a lot. So much is technical in what we do, but there is so much too that is just sheer determination and stamina.

Excellent. :)

Words For Hire said...

Janice, wow! I am not an artist but so completely related to this message. In fact it is exactly the post I needed today. Thank you for so beautifully articulating how to push past those barriers and once again find the bliss that comes with effort. By the way, I also believe in YOU. You are gifted.

Janice C. Cartier said...

Thank you so much. That is a high compliment indeed. As writers and artists we are performers, creative athletes if you will. We train, we practice, we push, we strive. Sometimes it takes a lateral motion, a work out in a different focus to free up the one that is stuck, or just tense and tight. I am glad this spoke to you.

And many thanks for that belief. Right back at you. :)