Welcome to my very first blog post! I chose this topic because I remembered loving a bumper sticker I saw some time ago, driving north on Hwy 101 in Marin County that read 'SAVE THE DRAMA FOR YOUR ART'. I could really relate to that statement because I believe good art has its roots in some darker matter, stuff that could, if not mindfully addressed, and instead acted out, classify as 'drama'. For me this 'drama', or potential drama, is basically the fuel that can sometimes make me stop everything and drive straight to the studio. And like alchemy turns base metal into gold, the painting process for me turns dark stuff / potential drama into lighter stuff, fuel for life and wisdom -- maybe not without a whole lot of struggle and despair during, and in between point a and b, but little by little it happens!
My creative process begins with writing, which is intended to make me conscious of, and take the edge off of my own internal drama. I have practiced writing in the form of ‘Morning Pages’ for many years. Morning Pages is an exercise specifically for artists (but can be for anyone), as explained in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. It's a daily practice where you, first thing in the morning, commit to writing three pages of longhand that is stream-of-consciousness (http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/). This is not necessarily anything to keep. In fact, it’s more like the stuff you want to burn! It’s designed to clear out the psychological clutter that's crowding the spaces in our precious, sensitive minds and hearts.
I thought of many examples of art that is fueled by emotions like sadness, despair, anger, etc. One example is that HBO series that's made out of scary, human, negatively charged emotions that result in lots of DRAMA, it's riveting and life-changing, and perhaps you love it; or like that sad song that lifts you up at the same time it's taking you into that painful, heart-wrenching place, and somehow you feel AWESOME when you hear that song; or you feel so alive and connected when you look at that larger than life Rothko piece at the museum. It's almost all black, but it takes you to a place inside of yourself you want to know more of. To me, this is what good art does - touches me, but doesn't leave me steeping in the raw emotion without hope, or challenging storyline in despair, or feeling disconnected. Instead, it acts to soften the edges of reality and opens my heart to an experience or a feeling, It is depth and expansion at once. I feel better, more inspired, and more connected.
Take this painting, for example, it’s called Heart Song. I thought this was pretty much the darkest painting I’d done that still got the stamp of approval from my intense inner critic. This was painted in 2011 and was inspired by a meditation I'd done in a Theta Healing workshop that had us connect to our family lineage, going generations back. Specifically, we connected to our ancestors' pain, frustration, and despair with the intention to express what they could not (in the form of a song but it sounded more like wailing dogs). But the meditation was very powerful and I was touched deeply, and compelled to do a painting about this experience.
Long story short, and fast forward to 2016 (definitely a story for another blog post!), THIS painting, the one that was born from the deepest, most intense pain I could consciously connect with in my DNA, was the one chosen to be on the Netflix show Sense8. The Executive Director and crew of SENSE8 thought THIS painting was the bomb diggity. I rest my point.
In conclusion, I'll say that 'save the drama for your art' is excellent advice. Good art is fueled by emotions. Especially the dark ones. And emotions when acted out can create either drama, on the low road. OR, if acted out in a creative space, create something cooler than cool can be, and have the potential to touch the world.