“The little boy nodded at the peony and the peony seemed to nod back. The little boy was neat, clean and pretty. The peony was unchaste, dishevelled as peonies must be, and at the height of its beauty.(…) Every hour is filled with such moments, big with significance for someone.”
― Robertson Davies
It’s a book you can write in. Paint in. Scribble in, highlight, copy and share. It is a book that will make you laugh and make you cry – it will challenge you and it will give you hope. It is a book of small stories that began with a book of personal lessons, observations of life from one of the most creative people I know. I’ve never seen anything like it, never held a book in my hands that made me feel so free to be me, whatever that meant.
This is Spin, by my friend Claire Burge, photographer, artist, woman, entrepreneur extraordinaire. From her first word, I was captivated. This woman whose every moment is lived in the spin of it all offers inspiration from the depth of a heart that knows what real life is and refuses to settle for anything less. Her stories guide her readers to explore their own stories, and to tap into the desire that drives and expands their innate creativity.
I am honored to get to share Claire here today, and I’m soooo excited to get to offer a giveaway of an autographed copy of this book that has already become a favorite of mine as I wobble my way out of my own creative rut.
To enter, just leave me a comment with a short paragraph about an experience you had that sparked creativity in you!
And don’t just wait for the giveaway – GO AND BUY SPIN. You will LOVE IT.
NOTE: The giveaway will close this FRIDAY, November 15. Good luck, and happy creating!
“It’s about waking up. A child wakes up over and over again, and notices that she’s living. She dreams along, loving the exuberant life of the senses, in love with beauty and power, oblivious to herself — and then suddenly, bingo, she wakes up and feels herself alive. She notices her own awareness. And she notices that she is set down here, mysteriously, in a going world.”
— Annie Dillard
“I like to work in watercolor, with as little under-drawing as I can get away with. I like the unpredictability of a medium which is affected as much by humidity, gravity, the way that heavier particles in the wash settle into the undulations of the paper surface, as by whatever I wish to do with it. In other mediums you have more control, you are responsible for every mark on the page — but with watercolor you are in a dialogue with the paint, it responds to you and you respond to it in turn.”
- Alan Lee
Rules are really just guidelines when it comes to art. Making art is a living thing, a conversation, a dialogue. It comes from a person willing to make whatever beauty they can with whatever abilities they have. Limitations merely make for originality that reveals the artist.
Let’s never standardize our art.
In my mind, “intentionality” is a methodical, measured approach to doing what I do well, and it’s all well and good until I get it mixed up with the idea that I *CAN* actually do everything I do perfectly. But I’m an artist, and perfection is a relative term to me, so mixing perfectionism into my everyday work has turned me into a crazy person, because “perfection” changes for me from one minute to the next. Don’t laugh. I’m being serious.
Last year’s “Go” completely uprooted me, and I’ve been unable to sink those roots back down, no matter how hard I try. The wind is blowing me off the reed I’m trying to hold onto, trying to get me to fly, and I’ve been too afraid to go where it will take me. (“Be in love,” He said this year, because He knew I needed more than risk – I needed something to make me want to fly.)
I learned a long time ago that being a stick-in-the-mud is my least favorite way to spend my life, but it is a lesson I’m willing to forego most of the time to avoid the sticky, the messy, the uncomfortable, and the pain.
I saw a therapist for a little while last year, and she tapped into this careful – controlling – side of me with a two-part assignment I have not yet managed to complete, beginning with a series of daily journal entries meant to be destroyed without being shown to or shared with anyone. I couldn’t even start an entry I’d have to destroy. I just stared at the pages, rationalized keeping whatever I’d written because “nobody would see it anyway.” I’m just a keeper that way. A creative pack rat. I think I’m afraid I won’t be able to create more than I’ve created already. I’m scared of losing anything I’ve done.
Yet with the assignment, my therapist gave me a picture that I haven’t been able to shake. She told a story of desert Indians who arranged grains into intricate murals in a carefully sealed house. They worked for months and months and when they finished, they opened the door and let the wind in to blow the grains away and erase all the beauty.
At A Lovely Workshop, Elizabeth Messina told another story of her friend Leah Macdonald, who bought a wedding dress on the spur of the moment, just knowing she had to have it. Over the course of the next year or so, she photographed woman after woman in the dress until it was tattered and falling apart. Finally, she put it up in a field and photographed it as it burned. As the tears came with the dress’s end, I knew I *was* a Leah, and I couldn’t keep “perfecting” her out of me and hope to stay alive.
Something is happening in me. I don’t like it, but I like it. It’s really uncomfortable, but I am beginning to let go of that thing I’m holding onto to keep the wind from blowing me where I’ve never been.
This week, I chose *not* to be perfect, and I was intentional about it. It was the scariest “dare” I’ve taken in a very long time, but it was one of the best. I let “perfection” go and looked for “I saw that it was good.” And I’m moving again. I’m getting beautiful work done and I’m not having to account for all of the everything I’m doing. Nobody’s going to publish my wall. Nobody’s going to worry about buying my sketches. Nobody’s going to read or approve the poems I’m writing in my head while I go running.
After this week, I think one of the most important things an artist can do for his work is let go of it, because it is in letting go that you get you back. I have more to give after this week. You see, my hands are free.