Living at the convergence of faith and art.

More Work – Less Think

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"Elemental" / Detail / Latex Collage on Masonite Panel
(c)2012-Lewis M. Curtiss jr~

I’ve got to laugh at myself whenever I get into one of my mental tail chases.

I need to develop and enlarge my online presence. I need to post to my blog at least once a week. I need to read up on promotion and marketing for my art. I need to develop a reputation and earn the respect of friends, colleagues, and clientele. But to do all of that, I’ve got to get to work making my art.

I don’t know exactly how it happens. When I find myself stuck in the ditch I’m almost always surprised at how I got there. I don’t remember avoiding a “deer” standing in my way. I don’t remember any on-coming “traffic”. Then it hits me, I fell asleep at the wheel. I was “day-dreaming” about what it is I must get done to get my work out there to show & sell.

I was thinking too much. My left-brain completely took over. My right-brain was being ignored, and I stopped making. I was hyper-planning, guessing at what I ought in response to what might happen. Blinded by visions of maybe’s, I lost focus and drove off the road and into the ditch. It’s a balance thing with me, and is possibly the biggest skill God has me working on this year; mental balance.

When I come to, I hear the Lord’s Spirit saying, “More work. Less think.”

It’s something I was mis-taught in school, the kind of thinking Seth Godin talks about in his book Brainwashed: Seven Ways to Reinvent Yourself. I was taught that my creative right-brain didn’t matter. All that mattered was memorizing the Three-R’s – Reading, wRriting, and aRithmetic. What America needed in the 1960’s were left-brained scientists, inventors, and teachers of the same.

According to Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) not only am I right-brained, but I’m a bi-lateral. It’s a sort of mental ambidexterity, but to the point; I’ve been in a wretched conflict for a very long time (decades) and to this day I still have to work at getting these two mental forces in balance. It’s a matter of creating new habits and neglecting old ones so they die off like weeds.

There’s a need and a time for both left and right brain work, or we humans wouldn’t have been designed this way. I need my left-brain thinking for brief periods of planning, marketing, and such. And I need to learn to give spacious, voluptuous periods of free-flight creativity to my right-brain. The right-brain’s just got to learn to lead, and that’s the lesson for me. I’m an artist and need to give my right-brain permission to blossom uninhibited and unjudged.. My left-brain can just go sulk in the corner if it’s going to be a judgmental curmudgeon.

If I’d just get into the studio and “make a mess” I’d have the body of work I’m so concerned about learning how to market. Self criticism is futile.

Art-making is an act of non-judgmental faith whenever we Creatives get into our workspace and without knowing whether what we’re doing is going to work / be any good / make any sense / we simply begin. Once we’ve begun, we keep on, ignoring fears, concerns, doubts, and anxieties about the work itself.

Gotta laugh. Gotta make. Gotta think less, and make much more.

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2 responses

  1. Another great post. I get caught up in the whole left brain thing a lot especially as I am trying to figure out how to get this art/speaking ministry really going. As I get caught up in making it work my creativity suffers.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    • Lew

      I was talking with a friend at a gallery which represents me here in Seattle, and said that I’ve had to focus and simplify because I’m trying to start too many things at once. It’s caused me to postpone my collage paintings for a bit and focus on the other collage art I’m making for now. So, I can deeply relate. You and your work are in my prayers. All the best as your ministry develops and flourishes.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm