Thursday, February 27, 2020

Big Magic makes a birthday present

Big Magic has changed my view of the art muse. I recently finished this book by Elizabeth Gilbert, just before my chosen granddaughter's 3rd birthday.  Her mom mentioned that Zyla wanted “animals and their houses.” What to do with that?
Gilbert writes about how ideas are alive, and go about searching for a collaborator to give them an eloquent voice and thumbs through human expression.  I certainly know this experience from the 16 years it took me to create the Journey Oracle Divination cards--so now this baby idea and I are sitting around, wondering what to do with each other, when the art muse shows up. I see her as quite Victorian in manner, mine anyway: stern, excessively disciplined,  given to small expressions of impatience at frivolity. Not someone who would win a smile from a 3 year old, but still, a present needs to come. 
I decide to “follow from in front,” and wait for a clear inspiration to guide each step.  Zyla loves my chalk pastels. Her mom said, “5 minutes and a crayon would make her happy.” 
So paper and chalk.  I find a package of folded note cards, missing their envelopes, in a box while looking for something else. Humm. What about a drawing of an animal house on the front, and an animal in the house on the inside? Each one a different version of “Who lives here?” Wait.  Each one a different version? Two drawings per card? What happened to 5 minutes and a crayon? Oh well. When the art switch flips, I am a moth drawn to the shine.  
What about cutting out photos of the animals but painting the houses. Might satisfy the muse without my falling down the time investment rabbit hole. 
My partner John walks by and wonders why I am making paper toilet seats.  Really.  A quite astonishing mess ensues. Big magic has caused my own 3 year old to appear. 
After every object, including the floor, has a requisite layer of chalk dust, 5 creatures and 2 birds are laminated into 7 environments.  Here are some small big magic moments met during the progress. 
In a small area, simple has more drama.
Emphasize the unexpected and uncontrolled,
rather than try and hide the bumps.
In art, and perhaps life, attitude is everything. 
So what does a 3 year old's paper birthday present have to teach about big magic and inspiration from the art muse? Art is art, no matter where one finds it. The creative gesture deserves respect, regardless of its intended purpose.
Certainly Gilbert says it best with regards to the forces of creativity: ...this is how I want to spend my life--collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand. Sort of like receiving a present from someone you don't know well, but certainly would like to know better.