After a year of solidly writing every day, I need to take a writing break this summer. The problem is that I’m terrible at sitting still. For me, resting is torture. My mind continues to spin out scenes that beg to be written down.
But as Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, we all need to fill our creative well every so often. She writes, “In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish – an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem….Any extended period of piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well.”
Ideally, Cameron recommends that we fill the well with sensory experiences, fun pursuits, intriguing explorations.
So how does this writer take a creative break, other than getting away from my writing desk? By finding a different creative project. One that uses a new set of creative muscles. And I had the perfect idea.
First, I enlisted my daughter, Paige, to help. She’s a fabulous visual artist – a skill she didn’t inherit from me. I shared my plan to revive our boring kitchen chairs, re-making them into painted, themed works-of-art. I would act as creative consultant and base coat painter; Paige would supply the art.
Here’s the set of chairs we started with. Dull, I know.
We brainstormed ideas for how to paint each of the six chairs, which was a lot of fun. We settled on these ideas: cosmos, Aztec, steampunk, Doctor Who (yes, we’re geeks), floral/nature, and collage. Now I’m doing the grunt work: stripping and sanding each chair, painting the undercoat and colour coats, and painting the polyurethane after the artwork is complete. Paige does the glory work, and her art is anything but boring!
What I’m finding is that painting gives my mind time to process what I’ve written and what I plan to write next. It gives me a way to relax my mind without sitting still. Like a long walk, painting is a terrific way to unwind and contemplate.
The best part is that, in the end, I’m left with gorgeous and unique chairs. Don’t hang your art on walls – sit on it!
Here’s our cosmos chair:
And our Aztec chair (front and back):
And finally our steampunk chair (front and back):
The last three chairs – Doctor Who, floral/nature, and collage – are in progress. I’ll post later with pictures of them. In the meantime, I’m off to paint a Tardis-blue chair, contemplate life and fill the well!