Sunday, August 13, 2006

Creative or Coercive

Some years back the news was filled with stories of all the flooding that was going on along the Mississippi River. Many people lost their lives and others suffered great property damage. The floodwaters came in and, for many people, washed away the work of a lifetime. This all happened because the Mississippi River was forced to be something other than what it is, a flood plain. The river has a natural ebb and flow that is, in a sense, its life. When the engineers came in and sought to change and control the river, to coerce it into following a path other than its own, it changed everything. Why was this done? Was it possibly because the engineers wanted the river to always remain the same, to never change? The life of the river, or anything else for that matter, is to constantly change and grow. Without change and growth, there is no real life.

So, what does this have to do about art? Well, everything. To make art is to be creative and creativity involves change and growth. Creativity is about constantly seeking out new and different ways to make art, or anything for that matter. It is about looking at what I have done and to see what works and what doesn’t work. It is about looking at what I have painted and listening for it to tell me where it needs to go next. Whenever I try to force the painting, to coerce it into being something that it is not then it begins to fall apart and I end up failing miserably (is there a good way to fail?). When I am attentive to the painting, to the creative process, then there is a flow that almost seems to happen in spite of me. The painting begins to take on a life of its own and I get to enjoy being part of this, of being part of the process.

I am mentioning all of this because over coffee, a theologian friend and myself were discussing the relationship between God and making art. Many years ago, another theologian friend once commented that we are all meant to be creative. We were created in God’s image. Since God is creative, so are we. It made sense to me then and it still does today. For me, God is creative. God is ever changing, and moving, and growing.

When I paint, it doesn’t really matter to me the exact point on the surface that I start with or the color I may begin using because everything is going to change and grow from that beginning point. I need to pay attention to the painting and make everything work in relationship to everything else. I need to take the time and see what is working and what is not working. If any shape, color, or form is not working then I have to learn from it and go back and change it. I need to learn from my mistakes, to accept them, learn from them, change the way I am approaching it, and move on from there.

I see God in the same light. God is not static or immovable and all knowing. For me, the God of the universe is ever expanding, constantly learning and growing, and always experimenting to discover what works and what does not work. Like painting, God is in a trial and error process always moving and changing in order to keep growing and moving forward. To be open to new ideas and always be willing to try them and to learn from them.

Both of the above paintings are part of my creative search to find what does or does not work. They are both untitled and are oil on paper. They both measure 14” X 21.75” and were created in 2006.


Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Amen, brother. Create and flow on!


Random comment about the paintings...while both engage me structurally (composition) there is something insanely wild and sparking about the green-trunked-tree pic.

Made me think of that Dylan Thomas poem line, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower..."

What a life force booming through that green!

5:39 PM  
Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

Hey I was in Jackson MS when it flooded 2 years in a row-- it was a MESS!I like the first one the best because of the colors I think.

9:05 PM  
Blogger amber said...

good observation about God being ever changing. New idea for me, I like it
I also like the first image best the colors are warm and the composition is well balanced, but I'm sure you already know this

4:30 PM  
Blogger jamieson5 said...

My freshman year of college I had to take a theology course and one of the only things that stayed with me from that course it the fact that God is ever changing, not static or still, but energetic and creative. It is this belief that gives me hope. If we are true to ourselves, and not conform (like the river was forced to do), then we too will be energetic, creative, and strong.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Sheri Burhoe said...

Love this piece, it's colors, form, style and visual subject.Great post, I enjoyed reading it ! :)

7:19 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Ed, how goes it?

No fresh posts lately, hope you're not covered up in un-fun busy-ness.

11:40 AM  

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