Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Taking risks

Taking risks is an inevitable part of the creative process. But for most of us -- however much we long to push the envelope and grow, to find and build our own individual contribution to the world -- risks are scary.  Some more than others, to be sure, but still: stepping out on a limb takes guts. It's so much easier to find something that works and then just keep doing it.

The problem with that, of course, is that life has a way of interfering with "business as usual." Take me, for example.  I've found this painting technique that's really fun (not the one you see here). I don't have to worry much about composition, I can just enjoy playing with texture and color; I am applauded for having a "style," it sells -- all is good.

But then, I go to the opening of a juried show, and there, hanging not far from my own piece -- a piece I painted early on, before I discovered my "style," is a piece that looks like it could be one of mine. Oh, no! My work is not original!  In fact, this piece is SO like mine it almost looks like she found one of mine on line and copied it. Quelle Horreur!

No, that doesn't mean I'll stop doing that kind of work. But it does mean I need to keep growing and exploring; I can't rest on my laurels. Time to try something new; time to see if there might be other techniques out there that I haven't tried yet. Time to explore -- as I did here, finding a new way to get paint onto the canvas.  All of which can be fun and exciting -- as long as you have a steady base to work from.  When risk becomes less fun and exciting is when you have nothing to fall back on; when life depends on making good choices; when everything else around you is also in flux.

I'm lucky; I have the luxury of a home, and food, and warmth, and a studio to play in. But my comfort levels are impacted by those around me.  Though I try hard not to read or listen to the news, I can't help but know that there are refugees risking their lives trying to cross our border into Canada; that the ICE are raiding subways in NYC after hours looking for illegal immigrants; that Jewish synagogues and schools across the country are experiencing bomb threats. Closer to home, in my own family, the risk levels are smaller but still higher than usual: one daughter is buying a house with a new boyfriend; another is spending a week alone in an unfamiliar city; my husband leaves today to drive a truck of furniture across the country -- and he'll be stopping in Chicago to drop off items for his sister, which means he'll be taking the northern route, and going through snow...

So, being a mom, I worry. But, being an artist, I will do my best to channel those worries into my work instead of letting them shut me down. Risk is inevitable; what's important is learning to trust that somehow life works through it all for good.

No comments: