Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The blessing of constraints

by Kate Merriman

So, you can hear me spouting off to friends about how God/ the universe /higher power always knows better than we do ourselves about what's best for us. But I don't always act as if that's true. So when this theory seems to come blazing to life, I am surprised and happy. And sort of embarrassed for myself.

If you'd have asked me, in order to create a group of 8 to 10 paintings that I really love all on the same theme, I'd need a nice month-long Artist-in-Residence program with meals a la Tassajara and foot massages each evening. If you'd have asked me to create a nice logical project plan for "Kate puts on her first solo show", it would have have a Gantt chart with a fat red critical path line extending to sometime in June 2011.

But, instead, just 15 days before I was to move house from Bolinas to San Anselmo, a very trusting and generous new artist friend invited me to be the solo artist at a popular coffee house for the month of February. Which was also in just 15 days. I looked around my little Bolinas house. Hmm, no paintings. All sold or given away. But I had to say yes, so suddenly the universe conspired with me to meet the limitation and soon I was creating new works that I'm totally stoked about. (See link via image above.)

A former painting teacher gave me some great encouragement that might also help you sometime:

"Working fast is an honest and integral part of your process," he said.

Wow! Permisssion to just go ahead and be me. No reason to put my work down just because it happens quickly. Revelation!

And just arbitrarily, I set the constraint of a theme of "wet dogs at the beach" which, strangely, further fueled the creative fires rather than the opposite.

With just a week left before I hang the show, I'm nearly ready.  Ha!  Life certainly is full of surprises.  Good ones.

I'm very encouraged to set more challenges and limits and see what comes of that.

"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." -- Mary Oliver

What have your experiences been with creation and constraints?


Clare Carver said...

congrats Kate - you are a total inspiration!! LOVE this work of yours!! ... c

Kathy Hodge said...

These are great, I love the shadows. Painting fast helped capture the speed of a wet dog on the beach I think!

Kate Merriman said...

Thank you both!!

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