Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert on Our Artistic Genius

A dear friend sent me this link last week for a TEDTalks video of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, talking about our artistic genius.  A great talk, very inspiring and completely true. She began the talk explaining that as artists we often feel this weight upon our shoulders to perform, to create masterpieces and that anything less than that is failure. Artists are doomed to live in anguish over their failings, and society has accepted that. She asks the audience, "Is everybody cool with that?"


She uses great anecdotes to explain that works of art are created with the help of a being outside ourselves - a genius, a muse, god, whatever you want to call it. We as the artist are not completely responsible for what we create, and because of that, we need not be so hard on ourselves when we do not perform or create as well as want. Her main point was that as an artist, your job is to show up and do your work to the best of your ability and whether or not your genius arrives to add that extra spark is up to it, not you. So don't be so hard on yourself.

I took that attitude with me when I went into the studio on Sunday. I had been so worried about the end result - what I ultimately created and not about the process. Last week, I was frustrated and didn't have a lot of fun with what I was doing. So I set a devotion for my Sunday practice:

[Art is about the journey, not about the destination]

And with that in mind, I spend four glorious hours in the studio in total bliss, and came out with something I was actually pleased with. It's not about to win any awards or anything, but I like it, and like it well enough to post here. A roughly 5x5" encaustic on panel, called Budding Vines. I'm stoked on the background texture and like the look of graphite rubbed onto the surface. It seems my muse was at least in the room with me that day. Don't think he was putting in a ton of effort, but he showed up, and so did I.