How Did I Emerge From My Dark Night Of The Soul?
My Dark night of the soul found its resolution through a rather unlikely event. For some time I had been looking at a photo that I found on Pinterest of dresses in a wardrobe. I was really drawn to this image although at the time I had no idea what lurked beneath its innocent surface. Anyway I began painting the image as you can see in the photo below.
Dancing In The Dark – beginnings
As I began to paint the bottom of the dress on the extreme right, I was suddenly overcome with a huge grief. I was crying and crying and I suddenly realised that I was releasing the grief I had held onto all these years about giving up my dancing.
It was as if there was a hidden self within me that knew I needed to somehow access this grief and release it. Thus I was drawn to the picture. The funny thing was that I actually came across the photograph almost a year before I ended up painting it. And for the whole year it was calling to me to paint it but I kept finding excuses and reasons why I didn’t need to do it. But clearly I did.
Many people don’t realise that works we produce are always a reflection of who we are in some way. It may be reflecting ourselves at the current point in time, or something from the past we need to let go of. As was the case in this painting.
The first Painting In The Series
What I found quite remarkable about this series of works was the way it operated on two levels. While there was the grief for abandoning my dancing, simultaneously the dresses being stuck in the dark closet seem to somehow echo my grief at not being seen and felt at deeper levels, by my partner. The dresses were beautiful and unappreciated and so was my work. The series continued to evolve as the dresses emerged from the closet and eventually ended up floating freely from a branch, in the wind.
Final Painting In The Series
This Weeks Question: How does your creative work reflect your own life journey?
Look For Next Week’s Post: Coming Soon, A Sensational New Body Of Work. Where Can You See It?
Well a creative challenge is one phrase for last week, ‘complete road block’, might be another. There comes a time in every artist’s life when you question your everything. Your work; competency, subject matter, style, value, worth in both a monetary and emotional context, even your ‘raison d’être. Well it’s been one of those weeks for me.
Some call it ‘the dark night of the soul’ and keep digging, while others rush off to the doctor and get something to make the mental and emotional pain go away. Others check them selves into a psychiatric facility and still others hit their drug of choice. The Moon – Tarot card is symbolic of this journey.
When you hit this pit or mountain in your road, what will you do? Cry a lot, soul search, write, walk, pace the floor at night – I’ve done all of the above this week. It seems that from time to time, in my experience, this is what the creative journey requires. We have to stop and reassess. sometimes our core foundations have been undermined. My big question word this week was all about Value.
Something I learnt this week is that when you are working through a creative challenge of this magnitude, it is impossible to gain clarity when your life is cluttered with your past perceptions. Yes we are at this point today built on our past, however we can choose something different. What is needed is perspective and distance. It’s not all about putting brush to canvas or pen to paper.
Why am I telling you all this. Because part of my conclusions this week are that I have to make more time somehow for my creative process. Something has to go. Here are the decisions I made. I am sharing with you so that if you find yourself in this place one day, my experience and insights may help you in your journey.
- To cut back my blog posts to 1 day a week again and change the nature of the blog to some extent. I am going to only post on Thursdays from now on and all posts will be about the creative journey of the artist – my self or others as information comes to hand. I may miss some weeks – or not. For 5 years now I have blogged every week and I thank those of you who are regular readers for coming to listen to my words. I trust there have been some insights for you along the way.
- I have totally cleared my studio of all works – wow what a different energy there is in there now – it’s literally a blank canvas, ready for when I am ready to begin again.
- I need to take some time out to really work through on an emotional and mental level, exactly where I’m going. Meditate, breathe, walk, do artist dates and morning pages. To help me with this I’m walking with Julia Cameron using her creative recovery books to help me. She has so much insight – the mentor every artist needs, whether you are in a block or not. I highly recommend her work.
Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives
Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives
Photo by Joelk75