Thursday, September 16, 2010

Build up your Tolerance for Solitude

In my last post I was ensconced on the couch at home, cup in hand, loathe to leave and start my creative work for the day. The longer I sat, the more comfortable and blank I felt.

Cup of the Day #34
Ebullient Cup #2 by Gwyneth Leech
White-out pen and colored ink on green cup, 2010

I finally got to my feet and out the door. As soon as I was walking the ideas and connections started to flow. Twyla Tharp (The Creative Habit, Simon and Schuster, 2003) is adamant that the root of the creative process is movement. Moving your body generates activity in the synapses of the brain, which I totally buy into. I keep thinking I should do that treadmill session at the gym first thing, or even an early morning dance class (last time at the ballet barre: 1974). Right now, a walk is all I can commit to.

I get my cuppa from Lenny's on 9th (I am in the mood for a dark blue cup) and make it to the studio with minimal distractions. Once inside the door I am filled with a blissful feeling. I am alone, and unplugged. No internet connection. Just the space, the art materials and the view out the window.

Twyla has interesting things to say about being alone. For some artists the fear of being by themselves is enough to keep them from going to the studio at all. When I was a university student studying academic subjects I felt that way. With paper and books in the library I was just plain lonely. As a younger artist I still experienced that loneliness intermittently. Now, with the escalating demands of children, ailing parents, neighbors, school committees, etc. being along is the best thing imaginable.

"Build up your Tolerance for Solitude" Twyla admonishes. For those afraid to be by themselves in the studio, Twyla suggest recalling things you do like to do on your own. It could be a soak in the tub, a hike in nature, or "the quiet moment of sinking into a chair with coffee when the kids have left for school" (p. 31). Yes, she did write this book just for me!

Anyway, here I am in the studio delighted to be alone, looking out the window and daydreaming. I take a swig of coffee. Now how am I going to actually get started?

In the 39th Street studio
Gwyneth Leech, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's a great view for being this side of creative.
    I like the space you have.
    Mine's a bit larger than a cell in a prison ; )
    A neighbor on one side, across the street, opposite side and the back.
    One house away is a river though.