Thursday, January 29, 2009

Germaine Greer Lost Her Muse

Black Thong © J. Licsko 02 oil on canvas

Muse for full or part time work.  No experience required.  Must be able to inspire on a moment's notice, show up on time, stay late, must have something unique to offer.  Minimal wage, but immortality promised to the successful applicant.

                                                                                                                                                                          Fifteen Rules for  
Courting The Artist's Muse
Before I was an artist, I was a muse.  I had hoped to be a muse for my first artist/musician husband.  I was drawn like a moth to a flame.  My wings melted after seven years.  No song ever left his lips on my account.  My relationship to my second artist, painter, husband was a different story.  The energy was different from the beginning, and soon, I was the subject of hundreds of canvases spanning a period of twenty years or so.

A muse is defined as a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.  Check out an article by Germaine Greer writing for The Guardian, on the subject very obviously without the assistance of a muse of any kind.

The muse (as woman) must eventually retire.  Perhaps the relationship between artist and muse becomes tired, or the flames burn out.  I, as muse, eventually showed more value administrating the artist's career, and other, less lofty domestic duties.  My artist moved on to landscapes and abstracts.  I started the search for my own muse.  One would think I would have had inside knowledge or connections.  I didn't. It took many years.

The first indication that I was in the presence of my own muse (as force) came while hanging my hand-washing of delicates on a line.  As I used the clothes pegs to secure a simple black thong to the white line, I noticed how the intense blue July morning sky showed through the varying layers of the cloth.  The overall image was abstract; black, blue, and a crisp white line cutting across the image.  I felt something.  Definitely, a feeling, not a thought.  My mind wandered, recalling all the clothes lines I could remember.  Vivid, visual memories from childhood when the lines were filled with the underwear of my mother, myself, and three younger sisters illustrated varying stages of maturity, all in white cotton.   I thought of all the style changes women's underwear have gone through till the present day  The realization that this was a statement (admittedly, a minor one), not only of the stages one passes through in a single life (consider, from diapers to diapers), but at the same time, how women's under garments offer opportunities for self expression.  One can read a lot about the daily moods of a woman from the lingerie she chooses.  My muse and I had connected.

Today, I have more inspiration than I have time for.  However, many wonderful intelligent people tell me that they are not creative. They may think that it is true, but I will offer two simple arguments why it is not.
For the faith based - "as above, so below". 
For the factually based - you are probably allowing your left brain to dominate.

Our personal muse should be drawn toward us the way one tries to tame a wild bird.   Carefully.  Watch it's habits.  Notice when it comes of it's own will.  Extend a hand, be patient.

The rules for attracting your muse:
  1. Never look it directly in the eye.  Know it is there, but be still, and trust that it will come.
  2. In your heart, promise to listen, promise to be true to what is given.
  3. Act immediately, write it down, make a quick sketch.  It rarely comes back on demand.
  4. Write or draw as it comes.  No censoring.  No judgement.  No spell checks.  Refining should be done after one has exhausted the inspiration.  Take a break, then edit.  Usually, the next wave of ideas will come.
  5. Don't listen to negatives, internal or external.
  6. Be silly sometimes.
  7. Say yes more often.
  8. Work to please yourself, trust your own voice.  Nurture your own voice.
  9. Don't talk about it, unless you have exhausted your insight.
  10. Don't answer the phone.  Forget what else you think you should be doing, within reason.
  11. Know what turns you on.  For the writer, in may be silence, for the painter, it may be music, for the musician, it may be visual.  Know your self.
  12. If new ideas come while tuned into your muse, make a note, but stay with the first idea.
  13. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.
  14. Give yourself the gift of selfishness.  Art required intimate understanding of your inner world. It requires total commitment and immersion while one is creating.  Respect it. 
  15. Last, there are no rules.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Blog ....... Identity Crisis

I am experiencing a form of identity crisis.  Many times before, I have been unsure of myself, and now, starting a blog requires serious questions. Why am I doing this? Where do I want to go with it? Who am I talking to? What do I want to say? How will I manage to sustain it?
As I have done so many times before in a variety of situations, after spending a long time standing on the edge of the abyss, I will just jump.  The result is usually much more pleasurable than painful.  I am still working out the technical details, so please bear with me.
So, here I am. I am an artist. It is said that an artist should paint what he knows. Today I paint (and write) mostly about things that reflect on femininity, but not always.  Men are fascinating, but I know about being a woman.
I once read that a "writer" is one who cannot stop themselves from writing.  That's me. Now I will share it with whom ever is open to it, rather than stuffing it into a file, never to be seen again.
The painting that accompanies this post is one of my first oil paintings after many years.  It is called Identity Crisis.  Inspired by idly toying with some fruit on an old blue wooden picnic table in the fall of 1996, I noticed that it expressed the emotions I had then of feeling out of place. My children had left the nest. I was confused by the onset of menopause, questioning my role in the future as a woman. With fewer maternal obligations, I wanted to start my painting again with a serious commitment to the authenticity of painting what I knew.  I was a vegetarian, I loved the colors and forms of fruits and vegetables. It was as this blog is now - a start.