The Creative’s Curse

Art Projects, Miscellaneous Ramblings

An insight into the mind of someone following their dream

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going?  Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Today has been one of those days where it feels like there is no way forward.  These days happen to everyone.  For a long time everyday was like this.  

I was diagnosed with depression and acute anxiety when I was fifteen and given anti depressants.  The swift diagnosis happened after a doctor went through a questionnaire with me, you know, the ‘on a scale of one to ten how likely are you to harm yourself’ form.  I was never really in any danger of harming myself but through the eight years of this depressive psychological torture there were points when I would have taken it all away just to stop feeling.  But, I didn’t.  

My father was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers when I was eleven and died seven years later after a sad decline into a shell of what he once was.  I couldn’t really process it directly and chose to bury it all away, look in the other direction and pretend it wasn’t happening.  My aloof character still comes out when I’m under emotional stress but this process of looking away will only ever send me into a very lonely corner.  

At twenty three years old and after finishing university I was at my worst.  I remember my mum climbing into bed with me at 3am one night saying she’d had a dream that I’d hung myself and that I must promise never to do it.  She could see I was in pain.  Fortunately, around that time, I was granted access to CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a guy named Eddy.  I’ll never forget his name although I couldn’t tell you what he looked like (which is odd for me because it’s normally the other way round).  He told me how to analyse and go back to the ‘root thought’ that triggered whatever emotional meltdown was underway.  It was revolutionary.  I realised that so much of my life was based on incorrect assumptions which had been coded at an early age.  

My main problem was self-loathing.  It’s still my biggest neurosis.  Like a hulking great monster it rears it’s familiar head every now and then and tells me that I’m totally useless at everything and that I should just give up, look away and hide in the ever decreasing corner.   I believe this is the curse of the creative.  Our abilities are besmirched by our own brain, telling us that we are not good enough and never will be. 

Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that our minds work differently to others – some call it laziness.  It’s not as cut and dry as that though.  I have periods where I work fervently, passionately.  Other times, I can barely put the kettle on.  This is very confusing when you’re trying to self-evaluate and your internal lens is set on cynical mode.  You only ever think about the times you didn’t finish the painting, or you let someone down, or you didn’t ring your nan yet.

So today has been one of those days.  I think I read somewhere that the moon is doing something weird.  Mercury retrograde or something.  I have no idea whether this is all tied together but I can tell you the last few days have been an uphill battle against the monsters.  Alongside this one of the pieces I spent a long time on for a commission was rejected by the client.  I don’t think it was to do with the quality of the work (or at least I’m telling myself that) I think it’s do with his own monsters.

I tried to paint earlier.  I’m entering a competition to put a series of paintings together for a museum in Exeter and trying to create four mini paintings to show my plans.  I had to rip it up and throw it in the fire.  It was awful.  It’s not always a good idea to try to fix the external problems before you’ve assessed the internal ones. 

So what’s to be done? 

Well fortunately I have found someone to share my life with who understands exactly what I’m going through.  He sat me down, gave me a big hug and let me feel sorry for myself without judgement.  He helped me to work through my thoughts and we devised a plan;

Go to the shop and get chocolate. Stat.

That’s all you need sometimes.  Just that one thing to get you through the next hour.  Drink a big glass of water.  Sing a song.  Eat some good food.  Have a bath. 

I have no money, no assets and no financial security of any kind.  I can’t even afford to go to the dentist to fix an ongoing toothache.  But I am doing something I believe in.  Even that thought fails momentarily, but it is soothing to know that if I died tomorrow I would have given life a try.

So instead of forcing myself to create, I’m taking a day off tomorrow.  It’s strange how much guilt comes with this decision but it just goes to show how inherent this self-deprication is.  I haven’t actually had a day of not working on something in a long time.  As a creative it’s not always easy to see your own progress and this makes it difficult to assess your own evolution.  You are always chipping away at new projects, slowly building.  It’s easier to see this progress over a long period of time but again, not through the cynical lens.

Perhaps the torn up painting was a big step forward.  A step out of a cul-de-sac and a way to learn what doesn’t work. It is NOT a failure.  It is an opportunity for growth. 

This is for everyone out there who is in pain.  As REM say ‘Everybody hurts, so hold on’.  

So hold on.  If we should take anything from…well, anything, it is that we are not alone.  YOU are not alone.  I am not alone.  Don’t be frightened of your own failings.  Do NOT let the tide wash you away.  Invite the monster in for tea and give it a biscuit.  It’s probably just as scared of you as you are of it.

I send this out there so that it may find you when you need it.  

LB

Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

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The Joy of the Accident

Art Projects, Miscellaneous Ramblings

Life is a continuous paradox.  Desire and suffering constantly feeding back into every action you take.  When we desire something, we try to create a situation in which we can attain it.  If this fails, we suffer.  If it doesn’t fail, we suffer because nothing lasts, it will one day abandon us, or even more likely, our desire for it will fade.

This is Buddhism 101, I’m not saying anything that’s not been understood many times before.  I would like to pose that it’s in the accidents, the unexpected, that the real magic happens.  We should embrace the accidents.

My primordial understanding of this theory comes from my artistic expression.  When I was at university I developed a technique of freehand drawing, allowing my subconscious to dictate the eventual outcome.  This in itself, is a skill to be learned.  It’s like riding a wave, there’s a perfect balance between outer intention and inner expression.

Closing my eyes and allowing my hand to draw of its own accord, I would run the pen around the page. Afterwards I would study the shape I had created and try to think of ways I could characterise it somehow.

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Freehand Subconscious Expression

For some reason these freehand drawings mostly ended up as strange little personas, alien, surreal and bizarre.  A psychologist might say they were elements of my personality.  A Jungian might say they are elements of all of our personalities.  Who knows, but they’re great fun.

Now here’s the controversial part, don’t worry, I’ll keep it brief.

My introduction to psychedelic drugs undoubtedly had a huge roll to play in this new visual interpretation of the world and would ultimately be responsible for my psychological transformation through the inevitable expansion of perspective that follows psychedelic exposure.

The visual stimuli you experience allows you to formulate patterns both externally and internally, which actually re-enforce each other in a way that leaves you with a deeper understanding of aesthetics and why the world is the way it is.

If you’re interested in discussing this subject further do feel free to contact me, I’m delighted to hear anyone’s interpretation of this experience.

I began wondering how I could invoke ‘The Accident’ in different and more reflexive ways.  My mind hearkened back to GSCE art where we would paint with bleach on coloured paper, using different dilutions to paint in negative space.  I must thank my old art teachers for this exposure.

So I began to experiment with bleaching coloured papers in various ways in order to create abstract shapes and forms that I would interpret and explore.  I also experimented with spray paint, acrylic paint and other mediums but I found bleach to be the most rewarding.

After graduating from University it would be a long time before I could muster up enough inspiration to create.  I was in that horrible place in your life where you perpetually self-destruct through constant negative reinforcement.  Again, not an accident.  This strengthened me, tempered my spirit and taught me a great deal about how we can control ourselves through observation of thought processes.

I dabbled every now and then in illustration and painting, but nothing held me for long, constantly distracted by a search for meaning that ran into cul-de-sacs and circles.  You cannot find yourself in other people. This is a journey to be taken alone.  Always.

It was a painful break up and the catastrophic collapse of identity that catalysed my journey around the world and into my own soul.  I began to draw again, for the pure joy of it.  I rekindled my old love of bleaching and injected new processes and techniques that came through sheer experimental pleasure.

This was me, allowing all the accidents to happen, letting go of control and attaining something completely unexpected.

After many years of personally studying consciousness, quantum biology, eastern philosophy, psychedelics, mysticism, esoteric history and other such fringe subjects, I was ready to imbue my own understanding of the world into my art.  The result was a very different and personal series of paintings that hold infinite possibility and great expression.  See Studies on Black.

I have a list of ideas as long as my arm that I’m ready to invoke onto the page.  I am peaceful and content in my journey.  I am well fed (I just made the most delicious coconut, parsnip, broccoli risotto, see me for the recipe) and I have found an incredible dwelling in which I am motivated to create art, music, poetry and stories.

My latest painting is based upon a podcast I listened to recently by Ram Dass regarding a letter he received from a man in a cave, ruminating on the splendour of existence.  I will fully transcribe this to sit with the piece eventually.  Here’s a quick look at where it is this evening.  Much work to do but I always like how it dictates itself through, well, the accidents.  These runoffs and splatters fuel some kind of magical language, it tells me what it wants to be.

For example in the lower left hand corner, the bleach darted away from the edge of the globe, totally unintentionally.  It’s going to become a great building of some kind, punching through the atmosphere.  Very cool.  The top right – a Volcano.  Sploosh.

Ram Dass - Man in Cave

Man in Cave tuning his sitar to the sound of the morning star. Initial stages.

So embrace all the accidents.  They’re not really accidents.  Just a change brought forth by your own search for meaning.  Allow them to see themselves through, take the time to understand why.  You’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for.

For now.

L x

Photo Credit to: Taelynn Christopher

Exhibitions and Activities

Art Projects, Miscellaneous Ramblings, Poetry, Travel, Uncategorized

Tomorrow night (8th November) I’ll be part of a little exhibition at Kaya Gallery in Plymouth.  They’re a wonderful little establishment who saw some of my other pieces being framed across the road and asked for more information about ‘the artist’.

I was headhunted!  ME!

I will also be doing a small poetry reading, exploring my other love of words, the embers of which were stoked by my buddy friend, Plymouth’s Bard.

Sea of Consciousness

Sea of Consciousness – 2018

 

So my latest piece; ‘Sea of Consciousness’ has been framed and looks pretty rad.  I have to thank Graham at Armada framing on the Barbican for his wonderful work at an incredible price as usual.

Kaya Gallery have some beautiful originals by Robert Lenkiewicz, a local Plymouth legend fabled for his eccentricities.  He is known for never being a sucker to the ‘London Art Scene’ (a man after my own heart) and created some stunning paintings during his career.  Art Goals.

Check out his story, it’s fascinating.

 

Robert Lenkiewicz - Self Portrait

Robert Lenkiewicz – Self Portrait

 

I feel like i’m pushing through to a new layer of exploration in my career.  Two years ago, almost to the day, I decided to take life by the balls and be ‘An Artist’,  whatever that means now.  I was in Vietnam, driving through the countryside, alone, and realisation hit me like a tuk tuk, the stark fact that I was born a creative, magnetised towards music, poetry, painting, crafting.  Novelty.

 

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Wonderful Vietnam

 

And now, things are flowing, more rapidly as each day goes by.  I am now officially self employed, I have moved into a wonderful house on the edge of Dartmoor, the walls drip with inspiration (or damp, it is 300 years old).  No, but really, it’s a beautiful space within which I feel comfortable and motivated.

 

 

 

I have so much support from all my friends and family which is more rad than words can express.  My mum’s house will soon be structurally unsound due to the amount of paintings she has of mine.  That’s what mum’s are for eh? My sister, Nikki and her husband Joe have been angels.  I don’t think I can sum up enough words to thank them for letting me live with them for the past few months and for helping me set myself up in the South West.

So once again, thank you, Universe.

And thanks to me, for not giving up.  For manifesting continuously.  For not letting doubts win.  For believing in my own truth.

I’m patting myself on the back right now.

LB

https://www.kayagallery.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Happens for a Reason

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Within a few weeks of leaving England in July 2016 I had already come to terms with myself.  Or at least, I’d come to terms with the fact that I hadn’t, up until that point, attempted to come to terms with myself.  I realized that through all my years quibbling about what I was going to do with my life, I’d actually known all along what I was here for.

I’m an artist.

I was born an artist and although I’ve struggled to find the confidence in the past to really get to grips with this, I finally realized.  It is my path. And all it took was to board a plane to Bangkok on my own, alone, psychologically wobbly and with nothing to lose.  I was petrified, but jumping into the darkness of the unknown is a surefire way to clarify any immediate problems you may have.  Not that this method will solve them, it’ll just help you take a good look at what you’re capable of and what you should do with all your new found wonderfulness.

So, after continued exposure to totally stupendous people from all over the world, I finally found a new resonance for who I was.  It’s like, looking in the same mirror your entire life, a nice mirror, well lit, gilded frame, but possibly a little cracked from overuse so the reflection is familiar but not entirely accurate.  All of a sudden I met a hundred new mirrors, all different colours and shapes but all built the same way, with a longing to reflect as much as they could of the world and open their internal horizons.

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Freya, Jason, Josh and I – Probably one of the happiest moments of my life

Anyway, metaphors aside for now, after accepting what I wanted, I was taken on a journey of affirmation.  By letting go completely of control, plans, worries and fears, I managed to traverse my way through life in South East Asia, which was beginning to feel more and more like a fantasy novel wherein the next creature I met would offer me a bag of coins that I could give to the Gyspy lady who would read my palm and after tripping on her scarf I’d fall into the arms of the wise man who would tell me that the treasure was buried under the hill that has a cave that…etc.

I now realise that life is both pushing from behind and pulling from the front, and the less wiggling you do the quicker you end up in the place you were supposed to be.  But sometimes, the wiggling is important too because you end up going sideways, which can lead you to all sorts of interesting places.  Just don’t get stuck there for too long and forget the point.

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Driving through the Vietnamese countryside – Quite outstanding

Talking of points, I do have one and if you’re still with me then I shall certainly come to it very soon.

So with all this new found, deep knowledge and faith in the things that will and won’t be, I’m more content than I’ve ever been and when life starts to rub me up the wrong way, I remember, it’s because I’m the one wiggling too much.

 

 

The universe forced my hand today and although at first I felt anxious that I had lost out on potential painting time, I then realized there was a reason.  There always is.

I have recently acquired a studio space which I have utilized as much as I can whilst working 35-50 hour week to afford said studio.  And like, you know, food.

I have been very dedicated to my painting which is an intricate mixed media piece in the new style that I’m experimenting with.  It feels almost masochistically detailed sometimes.

SAM_0133

‘Sea of Consciouness’ – Work in Progress – 2017

This style came in a flash of inspiration when trying to draw together concepts that I find fascinating and techniques that I adore using.  The initial idea was to acknowledge the conscious realm and the unseen energies that exist around us.  This is not intended to sound arty farty or even, heaven forbid, airy fairy.  I would like to remind you that the very fact that you can read this right now relies on a complex set of wires and wireless technology, floating in the air around you.  Still, very real.

Also, let’s not forget the spectrums of energy we can’t see or hear but we use every time we change the channel on our TV or glide our computer mouse across the table.  Not to mention the fact that I can transmit my thoughts this way. Electricity forms ideas inside my brain, transforms to computational electricity outside of my brain to then reforms itself back into cognitive electricity and then finally (hopefully) understanding in yours.  Amazing.

Now here’s a quote to bolster my ever elusive point.

“I don’t think you could discover consciousness if you didn’t perturb it.  Whoever discovered water it certainly wasn’t a fish, well, we are fish swimming in consciousness and yet we know it’s there.  Well the reason we know it’s there is because if you perturb it then you see it, and you perturb it by perturbing the engine that generates it which is the mind/brain system resting behind your eyebrows.” You can find the two minute audio clip here which is an excerpt of a longer talk.

 

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‘Terence Mckenna’ – 2017 – Mixed Media

 

I love this concept by Terence Mckenna. I love Terence Mckenna, (which is why I chose him for one of my first experimental pieces, blog to follow on this).  We cannot be outside of consciousness because it’s what we are.  It’s ad infinitum everything that we can ever behold.  It is and therefore we are the universe because everything anyone has ever known about the universe has been seen through the sea of consciousness.  Or the lens of conscious observation.  Not to mention we’re physically made of the stuff of the universe too.  I feel these very basic points are not talked or even thought about on a day to day basis but really do help put things into perspective.

So sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees but the more we surrender to the idea that by knowing what you truly want and focusing your conscious energy on it, you can paddle your way through life towards it.  And by doing this you change the currents.

SAM_0075

WiFi and Enlightment

 

I couldn’t work tonight on my painting due to circumstances that were out of my control and alongside that I was painting myself towards what I thought was a dead end, but actually, it was perfectly in sync with itself, just not in the way that I had initially imagined.

Firstly, due to not being able to hide in painting anymore I was forced to start considering where the hell I’m going with all of this, because for a while, I was relying on mostly gut instinct with a blurry concept that was pretty flakey.

This was important though.  As an artist, gut instinct is essential.  It’s what makes you put the line down in exactly the right place and at the right time.  But it will only get you so far when you actually want to say something, not just express inner turmoil or something.  (which is still valid)

So I sat down tonight, at the right time, in the right head-space and the volcano of ideas and concepts and readings and podcasts and conversations and experiences and aesthetics, plumed into an almost perfectly formed concept and statement that quite synchronistically-ly does tie into the current piece which I’ve ploughed 30+ hours into so far.  No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

And the reason I’ve spent so long explaining this is because, this is it.  We do create our own universes.  We focus our prospective lens’ on the external world and form it into… something.  There is a balance to be found between the physical realms and the unseen metaphysical realms.  We must try let go of so much physical control and acknowledge our gut.  You’ll know when you’ve found the balance because the co-incidences and alignments make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or as Terence puts it – the cosmic giggle).

My work will focus on this fact – that consciousness exists, it’s real somewhere.  We have entire universes inside our minds.  Infinite.  Eternal.  We forgot this at some point and forewent it for our shiny toys, (which ironically, as mentioned before, utilize the invisible realms of energy almost entirely).

So yes, all I have to do now is put these words and thoughts into images that will visually strike and conceptually resonate with as many people as possible in order to bring about some kind of conscious stability in the world and draw in (see what I did there) a new era of world peace and contentment for all personages.

Easy.

LB