Dear friend.

Much has been going on. A gallery show. Articles that have garnered a fair bit of attention. A new studio setup. Travel. Progress.

I spent the past week composing a long itemization of these things—the usual I accomplished this, I achieved that—things for which I've worked hard and normally share with joy and pride.

It didn't feel quite right this time. So I threw it away and started writing this instead. The gist of this small action is relevant to my general creative process.

I want to talk about that.

Photos taken on a walk through Chino, California earlier this month.

I've been having low-grade anxiety lately. It manifests through shallow breathing and buzzy paralysis. I'm haunted by the sensation of running in different directions but not getting anywhere. I'm certainly influenced by our shoddy state of State, but from experience I also know that this points to me not being honest with myself.

Often, I'm just uncomfortable with how a piece of work sits. Or, a project is stuck for too long, it's moving but sluggish or doesn't feel alive. Pushing a carcass around is a dreadful feeling.

Hindsight eventually reveals why things aren’t working, but in the moment it can be near-impossible to figure out:

Is this a direction that needs to be ditched as soon as possible? Or do I need to forge ahead just a little while longer? Am I simply tired and need a break? Should I continue working, but tangentially, in a looser, stream-of-consciousness manner until I rise out of imbroglio and am able to smooth the tangle in my head into sense? Or should I switch gears to something completely different instead?

And so on.

What's the path to clarity? Perhaps there's no single right answer. Maybe I'm not having enough fun. Relaxing and being less serious about the work will fix a lot. Or getting out of my head and going to a museum, not thinking too hard about it, changing the scenery.

This isn't as easily done as said because I constantly feel behind and get stressed about goofing around or putting things down. Even if I know that that's what's necessary, or that that's what will move me forward.

This pretty much sums up the creative process for me: having, then losing, then seeking clarity. 

Since most of the long life of a made thing is spent incomplete or inside us, we carry the burden of its possibility alone. The work itself can be a brutal attack on our sense of self. It will most likely be tedious and resource-consuming for years.

Most things don't get made or seen. We quit or go crazy.

The third option is to accept that this process is like anything else that gets more tractable with time and repetition. Making is also the only thing that I believe can make some of us truly, deeply happy. So I'm just gonna put blinders on. Maybe do a little jig now and again.

That's what I'm doing now, as small a thing as it is. I never thought I'd use these photos anywhere, for instance: they were taken on a whim. But they've stayed with me, and today they strangely and organically pulled themselves in here.

That's a satisfying feeling, when something happens so naturally. A piece that was made to slide into only this other piece. Meant to be. Such a smooth sound it makes.

That's when you know that something is truthful. It feels like a good little dance to me, a little bit of daytime magic.

So on this beautiful Sunday after a difficult week as someone outside is playing Aretha Franklin, I wish for you the strength and means to embrace selective blindness and perception. To let go, throw away, start over. And may what you sacrifice and lose sleep for (and hopefully enjoy making) come into the open, sooner or later. As filigreed and shiny as you had ever intended it to be. 

Until next time.

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