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The Humble Grumble


Jean Turner, RPT

comprising...
   ...the sporadic annoyances & humble mumblings of a Jeannius.

Monday 7 January 2013

Synchronicity and all that

Moms1 For the last 12 weeks, I have been gently progressing through an interesting book written by Julia Cameron - on the topic of art, the artist within, and the process of freeing and restoring an internal blocked artist.

Now - being the sort of person who is inclined to NOT divulge my most personal thoughts and feelings (generally ones that involve potential harm to my ego) to many people, you may wonder why I am talking about such a sensitive subject On Air, so to speak. It's simple, really - this lady has something valid to say, and in writing about it myself, it is entirely possible that I could in some small way affect, in a positive way, someone else's life.

It all started when I discovered the 'fusion' of beads and wood. More specifically, the combining of bead work and wood turning in such a way that they become an integral part of each other. My beadwork is not hung or strung on to my turned items. Nor is it stitched around an item in such a way as to hold it in place. My work involves the drilling of a myriad of holes and actually stiching the beads onto the wood itself, so that the wood becomes my 'fabric'. The very act of stitching the beads onto the wood means the two become intertwined and thus fused for ever more.

I have always been inspired by the way artists have coloured wood and painted on it, how they have used different coloured woods and other materials to make pictures and patterns such as inlay and to an extent marquetry. When we went on our grand tour of Egypt and parts of the Nile, dating to before the epiphany regarding the wood and beads, Rick and I went into the Cairo Museum in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine - to see Tutankamun's treasures. On our way through the museum toward the display room, we came across many of the other treasures of the great pyramids. Amongst other incredible things, we saw wooden thrones that had been inlaid with hippo tusk and exotic materials, and finger-jointed and dove-tailed boxes dating to 3,500BC which had been painted and gilded - sometimes over gesso, and sometimes in the form of beaten leaf.

encausticstpeter After Cairo we went to Mount Sinai and St Katherine's Monestary, where I was awe-struck by the encaustic paintings on the walls. One in particular - of the disciple Peter (complete with grey hair) really spoke to me. I came home with a desire to try encaustic painting, but was temporarily put off by the fact that most people expected one to use a hot iron to do the work. I read a lot, and was about to embark on a new painting experience when my Mom arrived for a lovely liong visit.

During Mom's visits, I like to spend as much time speaking to her as I possibly can. We live so far apart, and while we 'speak' via email and sometimes on the phone, those media are always limiting in some way. Face to face is the way to go in my opinion, and while we were chatting about this and that and beading (which I didn'tt do then, but which she did) I wondered out loud whether it would be possible to combine beads and wood in a way that no-one did.

Part of that was for purposes of trying to find my own 'voice' - something that had been frustrating me for some time, and partly in order to do something with wood turning and beads so that I could feed my own artistic/creative needs while in my Mom's company. With Mom's enouragement, I went to the workshop, turned the Forgotten Garden hollow form, and started drilling holes and stitching through the wood. Mom soon joined in with comments, ideas, and some stitching too, and we had a great time.

Forgotten Garden For the first time ever - I felt I was finding my way as a woodturning artist. Finally - I had discovered something other than oil paints that really 'does it' for me artistically, and the process has simply progressed from there.

Once you discover a new way of doing things, though, there is a need to find new and exciting ways to carry out that new technique. You need to stay 'fresh' in what you present to the world in order to not be dismissed as 'samey' or pin-point focussed, and while that was not a personal issue for me, it was also in the back of my mind. I was aware of how little I actually know about beading technique, and very conscious of the fact that the beadwork patterns I was making were ones developed by other bead artists - in other words - I was using someone else's patterns, putting it onto wood and displaying it as my own.

That brings us onto the subject of copying, design copyright and when it is ok to do so, but that is for another day's Humble Mumblings, not today. I need to stick to the topic in hand, and that is the unblocking of the artist within and the concept of Synchronicity.

So - I started learning as much as I could about beading and beadwork technique in order to be able to come up with my own patterns to stitch onto and into my hollow forms. That was fine, and exciting too, but it soon dawned on me that the only way that I was ever going to be truly original was if my artist could take over and 'flow' through me.

After Mom went back home again, I started reading books on art too, in an effort to find that elusive something that allows the artist to free up and emerge. Some of the books on the subject are really dry, and belong only in academia, where for some reason many authors feel they have a duty to be as convoluted and boring as possible. Some of them just do not make logical sense - and I am one of those people who enjoys philosophical discussions and the ins and outs of psychology unravelling as well as the occasional paper on the morphology of mineralogy - so I figured they really were terrible.

During one day's internet perambulations in pursuit of pictures of a technical beady kind, I came across a lady who had started doing what she called 'freeform beadwork' as a therapeutic solution to her own personal problems. Her writing style was easy to read, and I found myself clicking on the next page of her script - a .pdf file of a booklet she had written and previously sold to help others going through personal trauma.

I mentioned that I am interested in psychology, didn't I? Well - I suppose it was that interest that egged me on, coupled with the fact that our own traumas in past years and my awareness of the need for a healing process within all of us that caused me to listen to the message the lady was putting across.

Artists Way And one of the messages was that a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist's Way, A course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self (ISBN 978-0-330-34358-9) had been extremely influencial in the process of her own artistic recovery and the 'freeing-up' of her artistic side.

Being fairly open-minded (unless you are my children, in which case, I am 'tight', prudish and so old fashioned as to have come out of the Ark), I thought I might buy myself a copy and have a bit of a read. I thought that if I didn't like what it said, I could always pull the glossy cover off and use the paper as fire starters in our wood burning stove.

When it came, and I read the prologue and the first chapter it was like a little light came on in my head, and I got hold of another artsy friend of mine from university days who had mentioned that her creativity had become squashed and asked her if she would like to join me in the progress of the course through the book. She did, and we have both come out the other end feeling like we have been artistically refreshed and willing to touch the world with our artistic produce.

Among lots of other mindboggling concepts, what the book teaches is that we are created, creative beings (no matter your source belief) and that the Great Creator (whatever you want to call this force) enjoys our creativity, that we have the freedom to be creative and that it is good that we do so. In fact, we have the RIGHT to be creative, and that by being creative, we bring joy and blessing to other people's lives. Julia Cameron works hard to refocus the attention on the correct part of artistic creativity - the process of creativiy, not the end result or the kudos that goes with it.

I must admit I got a lot out of the book. Enough, in fact, that I am going to go through it again. I know my artist friend benefitted from it to.

So how does this all tie up with Synchronicity and all that, you ask?

One of the principles behind creativity, as Cameron explains it, is that because the Great Creator/The Universe/The Force likes the fact that we are creating, it works in synchronicity with us, doors are opened, rewards are received, and kudos can happen. The strange thing is that since starting this course, synchronicity has happened in my life. I worked my butt off all Christmas holidays to satisfy an order I really enjoyed receiving. I have had my goods pictured in a feature article in the Wall Street Journal, I have a new found courage to show others what I make, and as a result of that new courage, my articles have been chosen to be displayed in various places and a number of people have said their lives have been enriched my looking at my creative output.

As a professional turner - what more could I ask?