“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” - Ben Okri
Today we continue to discuss storytelling and the making of narrative work. I love thinking about art in this way because I so deeply believe that storytelling (in absolutely whatever form it takes) allows us to share our unique experiences, to show the ways in which we see and participate in this world. I'd like discuss one more way to step into narrative work using information and conscious thought process; on Friday we'll discuss a more intuitive, internal approach (and how, as ever, the two can be present together).
One of my very favorite ways to approach the making of a piece of art, is to create a Tribute. I consider tribute work to be a piece of art that acknowledges or honors a specific person, people group, animal, plant, location, sight, event, concept, etc. It gives me a way to say "this was/is important to me" as well as giving me a way to offer my gratitude for the gifts this life so generously bestows upon us. To work in Tribute gives me a way to step outside of myself, look deeply at something that deserves my looking, and say yes, I see you. A Tribute piece can be as recognizable as a still life, or as abstract as color fields, but either way, it is a conscious recognition. Truly I believe it is simply a beautiful way to say thanks and to create a space of thanksgiving in our hearts.
I often find the things/places/experiences that want to become Tribute pieces are those which find me in my life - such as this massive Ten-lined June Beetle who was laying, quite dead, in the gardens - they're not necessarily earth-shaking, although of course, they can be. They are the occurrences, memories, and hand-held treasures that simply are part of what happens in our everyday stories. One great way to pinpoint them is to create a gratitude list - long or short, big or small, a list of that which you are thankful for.
When I begin building the story of a Tribute pieces, I hone in, spiral down and begin asking questions (questions, questions, I love them! Gently asking questions allows us to approach our work from a place of curiosity, wonderment and play) and collecting information. For me, this is a great opportunity to explore and journal in my sketchbook. Can you describe the thing/place/experience with words AND images? Are there photos you've taken, drawing you'd like to add, studies you've done and information you've learned? In your heart of hearts, do you want to say thank you, I see you, I was here, you were there, or some other short acknowledgement? This is a great practice for the building of Field Notes, such as we discussed in Monday's lesson. When we gather information, it's right there at the ready, but when we work specifically in Tribute, we have the added benefit of working from a place of really seeing, marking, and giving appreciation. And those added benefits help imbue emotion, heart-space and life-experience into our work.
Week 5 Continuing Home[play]: Field Notes
For today, we'll layer on an easy little exercise. I'd like you to write up a list of gratitude in your sketchbooks. There may be some overlap from your lists of inspirations, there may be brand new items (and not even ones you would have considered for the inspiration list), they may be very small and specific, they may be broad and conceptual. Either way, the very act of writing them down moves us into a place wherein we can offer joy and thanks, wherein our hearts open and we can be ever more receptive to hearing our intuition and the flow of creativity. Look these over closely, see what you feel, what you want to spend time with, what is asking you to come out and play. IF from here you'd like to continue developing the items on your list, creating Field Notes, sketches, color plays, or diving into your medium of choice, well then I say let loose and GO GET SOME!
Be large of heart my wild women,