April 11, 2010

Battling Creative Despair

This is the picture of a rare sight in our kitchen: my empty print-drying rack.

It really is so unusual to not see an edition of prints hanging up to dry that when the rack is empty, as it is now, it almost seems like a piece of furniture is missing from that corner of the room The current emptiness is the result of a couple of very frustrating weeks that have gone by with me unable to produce anything printable.  

Not for lack of trying; I've been working on ideas for the next print pretty much every night after work but, no matter what I put my hand to, it came out rotten.  Last night, out of desperation to carve something, ANYTHING, I turned to a block I've had sitting around since 2006.  In those days, I was experimenting with different woods and this was an image on a pine shelving remnant. The image was small; I figured I'd have it done by the time movie time rolled around at 10:30.  Not a chance.  After three hours of work, the block ended up in the garbage.  

I'm guessing it all has a lot to do with the transitions in my other life, the work life, affecting me: I've realized I have a hard time feeling creatively charged if I'm sad and, though I've tried not to be, I have been sad.  With the first week of my new job behind me there's a lot of changes, some of them major, to get used to.  Still, I pushed myself along, producing several disappointing drawings and destroying a block in the process. I sure hope I'm out of the funk now.   

I have, for a while already, been wanting to do something based on sketches I made last year of some of the Czech folk motifs in traditional folk costumes.

My idea is to combine a simple stylization of the motifs with the specific four colours (red, blue, green, ochre) used in a particular style of Czech folk pottery:

I don't necessarily want to duplicate that style, I only want to borrow some elements from it, and I began trying to bring this to life somehow last week on Monday. I was, at the time, still glowing following an incredible concert we went to the previous night, Easter Sunday.  I don't necessarily want to get into a discussion of faith here, it is, as I see it, generally a private thing.

But I will say that I have, throughout my life, gone to many an Easter service in a variety of churches and gathering places and have never felt the sense of the "holy" as I did at Sunday night's performance by Snatam Kaur.  We all felt transformed by it, even N did, and she was in recovery mode after celebrating her 21st birthday the night before. If you aren't averse to Eastern religions there is, besides Snatam's official site, a whole slew of videos on U-Tube to check out.  None of them do any justice to what the concert was really like but they do give some glimpse into why so many people find her music infinitely inspirational.

Anyway. On Monday, meditation music in the background, I began sketching my ideas and ended up with this: 

There's no green and I wasn't yet sure how I wanted to incorporate it and, to be honest, I wasn't even sure I liked this at all.  So I put it aside and over the next few nights I worked on other sketches and other ideas, each one progressively worse.  Then last night there was the destroyed block fiasco and today I woke up more depressed than ever.  I decided to return to the original sketch from last week and add in the green.

I'm happier with this now.  It has the colour combination I'm after while still being different from the traditional Czech folk style.  And, maybe just because I hate the sight of that empty drying rack and because my fingers are lonely for my chisels, I'm going to follow this idea and see where it leads as a print. 



Sherrie Y said...

You know, Katka, I think some of it might be the change of season, too! At least it is for me.... I get so restless. Ideas are fleeting and routines are changing and it's hard to avoid a funk. But good for you for staying with it... I think this is an exciting and fun design!

Amie Roman said...

You have definitely experienced an enormous life change, and I personally find that so disruptive. But then, I find excuses to not do any art pretty easily :)

I really like where you're going with this, though, so I'm very much looking forward to where this goes.

Katka said...

Thank you both, Sherrie and Amie, for your encouragement.

Sherrie I suspect you're right; spring is a restless time for me as well. It seems like there's so much pressure to bloom in some way but I never know quite how.
I think there must be some logic to bringing in the season as they did long ago, with Beltane festivals and the like.

Amie, I think you've got a handful of disruptions of your own to deal with (though at least one of them is most positive) yet you manage to forge ahead also. You say you find excuses for not making art; I say you merely channel your creativity into other directions that's all.
In the end it all comes out even.