If you’re an artist, you understand. When people give you look like you’ve lost your mind, take comfort in knowing that you truly are normal. Normal for an artist, that is!
Yesterday while I was painting in the morning, I had my headphones on listening to some music. Sarah McLachlan’s Angel came on and I fell into the slow mood of the music. About halfway into the song, I heard this sweeping sound which reminded me a little old widow out sweeping her porch, and accompanied the song with sad loneliness. But what was that noise?
I realized it was the sound of my brush on the canvas. Even with my headphones on, I could hear that faint sweeping. Even backed by the lonely mood it all, there was a strange peaceful calmness.
I went into the day carrying that mood with me. That smooth loneliness. But as the day wore on, it deepened. I felt a sadness creep in. I realized that this feeling wasn’t my own. It was the feelings stemming from the lead character (Steigan) in my graphic novel, Sacred Knight. One of Steigan’s long-term goals is that he wants a family, but being in the position he’s in as a warrior, he knows that his life isn’t his own and might be short. Being an orphan himself, he doesn’t wish to leave behind fatherless children. He’s shielded his heart from wanting to be loved and reached a plateau of sad calm. As long as he doesn’t dwell on his lot in life, he doesn’t allow himself to slip into the hollow pain. The biggest war he fights is the one within himself.
I went through my day, feeling these same emotions that he goes through, exploring them. Let me just say that it is a weird, disjointed sensation feeling what someone else is supposed to be feeling, especially when you keep in mind that the person who’s emotions you’re exploring exists only in your own mind.
In the afternoon, a friend asked if I was okay. I laughed as I told her I was in a sort of funk, one that I know I should snap out of, one I would ordinarily just tell myself to get over, but that I couldn’t. At the questioning look from her, I explained I was exploring the emotions because my character needed them. That got me the “you’re insane” look. After all, who would purposely dwell in dark depressive holes for the fun of it? Who sits around and studies the locations of the body that house various emotions? Well, not the sadder emotions anyway. We’re all aware that when we’re happy we feel like our heart could just burst with joy. But rarely do we want to examine the hole left in your heart while pain sears it away. Better to seal that away and eat or sleep until things get better.
Now I admit that I have a fear of sketching in public. It makes me uncomfortable to think that someone might come over to see what I’m doing. Even more, I’m afraid that they might criticize my sketches and kill every ounce of self-confidence I’ve built up. It’s an emotion I’ve been exploring lately, much in the same way that I studied Steigan’s lonely longings. But my fear is unfounded. I am doing the one thing most people only wish they could do: I’m writing, drawing, and telling stories. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to be my own. I need to loosen up and relax, be freer with what I do. No one has to like what I do, can give me “the look” all they want. I know where I find joy and happiness! Who can criticize that?
Who cares if someone thinks I’ve lost my mind because I’m doing something creative, like exploring the emotions of a character? I’m changing my thinking: artists should do something every day that makes people wonder if they are insane. Step outside the box, release of the fears of being judged, and let creativity guide you. It’s an “artistic normal.”
What have you done today to let your spirit reign free? Tell me.