Music drills a hole in Creative Block

Short version: I walked the dog this morning.
Long version: Someone at Pandora got nervous when I typed in “Foster the People” and said, “Oh dear, no! We better pump this chick up before she goes off the deep end” and they interspersed the most lovely songs, like Fitzsimmon’s “Good Morning” and Modest Mouse’s “Float On” and Jimmy Eat World “The Middle”, in between Helena Beat and Houdini. I tell you, Foster the People is the best music to motivate me to pound out 14 minute miles, I don’t care what you think about Pumped Up Kicks.
But lets talk about it for a minute. I tried not to like this song, once I understood the lyrics. We have far too much gun violence going on lately and it leaves us feeling powerless. I don’t advocate anything that glorifies these tragedies.   But the music, ah, I feel it all and it makes me feel good, not powerless. (What would Anne Lamott say?) The song is a metaphor for those of us who have been sat on and disappointed to the core, while those around us lucky enough to have coping skills and a privileged existence float on unscathed. In this song, I am gathering my courage, screwing it to the sticking place and saying to the rest, you better get your stuff in place because I am gonna outpace you NOW. I am bringing out the big guns of my creative process, and there is no stopping it!

It makes me feel stronger. Like I could actually do it. Speaking from two years of failed attempts in my art practice and stifling self-doubt , this feeling is the first sign of life. Yeah. From a song about a gun. It can happen.
Inspiration only shows up when you are working, though. (Someone famous said it, not me, I’m too lazy ) And even then, only after you have kicked yourself in the right place.

It so happened this week that I skewered one of my students for playing it safe and making only what she could envision ahead of time from her tired and small list of cliched ideas.
“Let go of fear!” I bellowed. “You need to work without knowing, without solving the problems ahead of time. Not knowing is a GOOD thing. Let your right brain get a word in.”
And after class, I had to look at my half-hearted projects and speak those words to myself.
The other art professor, Mark McCleod,  came in and asked what I was doing.
“I don’t exactly know,” I groused. “But I have to do what I teach”.
He nodded solemnly. “Yeah.” And he went right back to his sugar etchings. (Some really nice work, headed to a gallery in New York in a couple of weeks.)

I piped out the rest of the egyptian paste onto circular forms.  Coming to a gallery…..I don’t know.  So feel free to remind me of everything I have ever said to motivate you!  Better yet, send me the songs that drill holes in your defenses; I need all I can get.


About genieearle

I make things in my tiny studio called Claywise, as I try to understand the world I live in, and what it means to be human. I have 4 amazing offspring who are making their own paths, and I am currently an outpatient counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab center, where we do expressive arts in group therapy. View all posts by genieearle

2 responses to “Music drills a hole in Creative Block

  • Rebecca Aranyi

    You know the funny thing about your blog post… it’s kind of why I left teaching. I was standing there telling my students they needed to work on their art every day, to explore different media and make mistakes, and (the one that I swear I heard at UNCC quite a bit) don’t play it safe – do something different, push yourself. It was hard to look in the mirror knowing that I wasn’t practicing what I was teaching.

    My game plan is to submit my art to at least four places a month. It could be an artist residency, call for entry, gallery, magazine, etc. Just the knowledge that I need to have something fresh pushes me to create more. However, this isn’t a full proof plan. I hate to admit that there are days where all I accomplish is watching episodes of law and order on Netflix. Being an artist isn’t easy and isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s who we are. Elizabeth Ross once said, “I am an artist because the knot is so powerful l just cannot, nor want to be, anything else or do anything else. “

    • genieearle

      Great game plan, that’s one I need to adopt! Its funny, I said the same thing when someone asked why I didn’t just get the MAT and go right into teaching – I said I need to be DOING what I am teaching, I need to be an artist first, a teacher second. For two glorious years I worked at my art every day and night in the studio, immersed in conversations and happenings in the art world AND got paid a decent wage. Those days are gone, maybe forever for me. Teaching as an adjunct gives me motivation and free studio space at least. I may have to do other things to make a living, and I will never be famous, but I can’t not be an artist. Love Elizabeth Ross’s quote. I tell you what I need, I need more community with my peers. I wish we could commit to regular online conversations with our fellow UNCC ers plus our connections since then………..

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