Lori Field on her work and creative process. . .
Desert dreaming....

Priming the pump of creativity...



Between an overly long and complicated house move, and an overly long and complicated bout of illness, it feels as though I've spent the last months away on a long and difficult journey, traveling by foot and ship and dog sled to Antarctica and back. Returning to the office/studio again, and back to my writing-painting-thinking self, is as bittersweet as any homecoming after a lengthy, weary trip: the sweet joy and relief of being back tempered by dismay at all the dust and cobwebs that have built up in ones absence. There are jobs to catch up on, letters to answer, apologies to tender ("Dear Sir or Madam, I'm terribly sorry that I dropped off the face of the earth these last few months..."), patient friends to get back in touch with . . . and the hardest and most imperative task: to re-discover, and settle back into, my own Creative Self.

Those of you who also live with chronic health issues will know this cycle all too well: the periodic abrupt Absences followed by laborious, apology-strewn Returns as we pick up the threads of life again. . . and the threads of ourselves again.* Over the years, we learn to recognize the things that can help to ease us back into the world. One of the things I find useful at such times is to read nonfiction about art, literature, myth, and the creative process; this gets the dusty, rusty gears in my brain creaking back into motion. Sometimes I re-read old favorites in this vein (Lewis Hyde's The Gift, for example; or David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous), finding fresh treasures within with each re-reading. Other times I seek out (or stumble across) something new to fire my imagination -- such as two terrific books sitting on my desk now that I'll post about at a later date. (Sorry, that's a bit of a tease, I know, but I need to keep today's post short.)

The Internet can also be a source of inspiration, if one knows where to look for it -- such as Arts & Letters Daily, a portal site linking to essays and articles posted elsewhere on the web; and TED.com, offering short videos of talks on a wide variety of subjects. (Isabelle Allende discussing passion, for example, or  Amy Tan on creativity). I subscribe to TED, and yet I somehow manged to miss the excellent video above -  in which Elizabeth Gibert discusses creativity, genius, inspiration, myth, faeries, and much more. I'm grateful to Amal El-Mohtar (editor of Goblin Fruit) for mentioning it to me. I absolutely love it. . . and suspect that you will too.


* If you're interested in health issues in relation to myth and storytelling, the Winter 2006 issue of the Journal of Mythic Arts was devoted to this theme.


Comments

For me, a trip to the art-supply store (withOUT a list!) is good. New tools/materials are excellent for getting the juices flowing. For instance, Moleskines now come in big, A4 size.

The Gift has been a go-to book for me ever since I first read your (and Midori's) recommendation of it. Now I'll go and find Spell of the Sensuous. You've never steered me wrong!

I completely relate to your struggles with returning to your work after so many distractions. I suffer from a chronic low-grade depression that sometimes can be challenging to shake off. For years I struggled with the ebb and flow of my energy levels before, during and after my down-cycles. Over time, I have learned to incorporate my low times into a whole creative cycle, rather than view it as a time of struggle and frustration while I figure out a way to escape. My down periods give me the space to reflect on my previous work, to read (I too re-read The Gift often) and to do research for future work. I also use the time to draw and practice new techniques, because my attention is usually not strong enough at this time to complete a polished painting. Having viewed my chronic depression as a part of my whole being has made the depressive cycles much easier to bear and, interestingly, much shorter than when I resisted them. Now when I come out of my down period, I am filled with ideas and the energy to create!

Welcome back weary traveler! Anything I can do to assist in your re-entry just let me know!

P.S. Thanks for the Elizabeth Gilbert video -- awesome stuff!

I was just thinking about you, so it was lovely to see this. I'm sorry you've had such an arduous journey, but very glad you're back.

Pamela

So sorry to hear that you've been so ill. But heartened to hear that you've returned to your studio at last! I hope the Muses smile kindly upon you.

A trip to the bookstore I think... I actually got a tear in my eye from that talk. What a wise lady =)

Welcome back by the way, I really missed your posts.

Yay! So glad that you are back and posting again, you are one of my sources for inspiration on the web. My husband has been telling me I needed to see Gilbert's talk for the past several weeks, what a delightful kismet that you posted it today.

Bri

Hey there, beautiful lady. Been thinking of you lately. Glad you're feeling better. One hint about all the catch-up: I'm sure there's stuff there that doesn't *really* need to be attended to. Self-care first!

Much love...

We are all just happy to have you back. The absence was felt as it happened, but the return wipes that all away.

xxxJane

It's such a great talk!

Strangely enough, a friend posted this very same video on her Facebook page about the same time you posted it here, and I thought it was wonderful. Gilbert's story about Ruth Stone was the inspiration for a painting I recently completed. I love the way inspiration can come by stealth, by delicious surprise, by the most unexpected pathways.

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