Day 27 - Creation and Love. Drawing a Dog in a Minute with Jonny Parker.
This quote below is often attributed to Nelson Mandala, but the funny thing is, from what I can find, there is no record of him ever saying or writing it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
This paragraph was written by Marianne Williamson in her 1992 book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course of Miracles.
I think it’s so funny that Williamson wrote something that many people recite in the same way some might recite the Constitution, and yet it is more often than not attributed to the wrong person.
This is great news for you if one thing that keeps you from creating is your concern about what other people think of your work. They may think Marianne Williamson did it! The pressure’s off.
I am all about create and move on these days. I wrote a book two years ago and don’t remember what’s in it. It’s done. I’m so glad I did it, finished it, and I’ve moved on.
I got paralyzed in graduate school because I would examine each paragraph I wrote as if my life depended on its quality and strength. This brightly-lit style of writing/editing lasted over thirty years. It didn’t help that I carried red pens in my hand so that I could grade my students’ papers. I was so mean. I remember on one essay I wrote “I will never get back the time it took me to read this.”
You know when someone walks around saying mean things to other people, chances are good she’s saying worse things to herself. My brain was terrified to write because it knew the judgmental, also terrified piece of me was going to jump all over my work and make me feel terrible. Better not to write. Better just to dream one day I will write…One day I’ll actually start and finish a project. But not now. I’m just not good enough yet.
I have some paintings that I love very much. One is of Obama, one is of a woman’s head, one is of a horse. They are all by Jonny Parker, an artist who lives in San Francisco. I went to talk to him because his art inspires me. It makes me happy to be alive and it makes me want to create. I wanted to share his art with you and hopefully help inspire you to create, also.
One of the first things he told me as I sat on his couch was that he thinks talking about his work takes the power out of it. This was funny to me since I had driven an hour and a half to talk to him about his work. He said historically he has never liked to talk about his work because it took time away from what he wanted to be doing. He has a full-time job as a librarian, so creative time is precious. Jonny feels that people need to look at the work themselves and take what they want from it. They don’t need to be told about it.
I stared at him, pressed record, and put the phone between us.
He talked about his art.
I didn’t start painting until I was in my late twenties when I was living with my friends Kent and Mette who were painters. Something in the back of my mind said, “Maybe you can do this.” And then my friends were really encouraging and showed me how to do get started, and then I went off on my own and painted.
I was handicapped because I never knew how to paint or draw, but my handicap was helpful since it limited what I could do. I could only do certain things. One of the first things I did was an outline of a cowboy on a horse in a silhouette because I couldn’t deal with shadows or faces or anything like that, but it turned out it was okay. It was minimal. It was considered art.
I was lucky that a curator for a rental gallery came by my office and saw some of my work. She asked to come by my house with some other people to see more, but the problem was that I only had one kind of painting--I just did it in different colors and sizes. These people looked around and were like, “Oh. Hey. The work is very emblematic.” And I said, “Okay. Whatever that means. Do you want some or not?” and they said, “No. You just keep painting and we’ll come back and check it out.”
I kept painting. Back then I used to get stoned, so I just made big paintings and tried to make people laugh. I made a big ape with a broken arm, and I painted a cast on it and signed the cast. I made a lot of big paintings and made people laugh.
I kept painting, and slowly I got some recognition.
I got a $5,000 grant from a foundation around here. I hadn’t thought I would get it, but I applied, and then they came over, and boom, I got the money and was able to go to Europe for several weeks. This was thirty-five years ago. I finally got a gallery to show my work, and then one thing led to another.
The sewing stuff started maybe fifteen years ago; I was doing big pieces. I don’t know how it started. I guess I bought a sewing machine on eBay. I don’t know why I bought it. I’ve always had an interest in abstract shapes and the cloth work lets me work with that.
Jack has some of my things hanging in a group show that’s really good. We can walk there.
We walked the few blocks to the Jack Fischer Gallery, and it was so fun, to go from the loft where this art was made to the gallery where people go to buy it.
Dear, gentle reader. I beg you. Let your creative freak fly. It’s so fun to be with people who are making stuff. It’s like being in nursery school, back when the question was, “How did you do that?!”, back when the response to seeing art was throwing one’s self at a piece of paper or into a pile of dirt or whatever material is at hand and getting jiggy with it.
Just have fun.
Here’s a video of Jonny making a dog. If he can draw something in a minute, so can you. Let’s see what you do! Do your minute drawing and then email a picture of your drawing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll include them in a blog post. It’ll be so fun.
To see more of Jonny's work, you can go to http://www.jonathanparker.com or http://www.jackfischergallery.com/artists/jonathan_parker/index.htm.
See you tomorrow.