Monday, December 14, 2009

Turn That Frown Upside Down

Olaf Breuning wall drawing; Metro Pictures Gallery; November 2009

In "Riding the Waves," a post that I wrote in August 2005, I described the creative process as a wave of crests and troughs. I recalled the post recently, when viewing Olaf Breuning's Metro Pictures exhibition, "Small Brain Big Stomach." One of Breuning's amusing wall drawings depicts passengers aboard small boats, smiling when atop a crest, and frowning when at a trough's bottom.

From the original post:
"The creative process has much in common with a wave. When the artist finds herself atop a crest (Points A and F in the above wave diagram), life is grand. This peak is short-lived, however, and plateaus are rare; the bow of the artist's little boat begins to nose downward soon enough. Heading downslope is not all bad; during the descent, the artist is generally content, busy producing work associated with her last creative crest. But as the boat's bow nears the base line (Points B and G), she begins to fret...about everything.


Generally, I'm an upbeat individual. Despite some seemingly pessimistic attitudes regarding long-term ecological health, not a day goes by that I don't appreciate being here. The world is an amusement park of ideas and discoveries, and I simply can't understand how anyone could be bored or uninspired. That said, the creative troughs do pull me very low. I become self-absorbed, distracted, pessimistic, and argumentative. In short, I'm not a pleasant person to be around.

There are two ways for an artist to ride out a creative slump. I might opt to stop producing work for a spell, hoping that a break will sort things out. Alternatively, I can work wildly, embracing whatever inspiration compels me. More often than not, the latter, active approach is the one I choose. Something useful may come of the mess."
In some respects, I'm in a trough presently, and have been since October. This particular trough, however, hasn't made me unpleasant "to be around," and I'm happily plugging away on studies for new paintings and drawings, even if my pace has been adversely affected. Maybe I'm just getting better at contending with creative highs and lows? I hope so!

Image credit: (oddly) "The Lord's Daily Way" Bible Study at

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