How do you know when something is not working?
How do you know when it has righted itself?
I have a limited time here at the Grand Canyon. My residency is only 3 weeks and almost 2 weeks in I was struggling. I could not get a grip on the immensity that is the Canyon, the depth of time, the depth of the history of this place. I felt sure my puny mind was not equal to the task. I had produced two pieces that left me very unhappy. They were appreciated by those that saw them but to me, they were half-assed, trite efforts. Why had I thought I was up to the challenges?
Then, when I thought that I had made a shambles of my residency, and would have to return home with nothing but some failed pieces as a record of my squandered opportunity; a spark formed somewhere in my mind and slowly forced its way to awareness- an image was appearing of a piece using the starkly beautiful, powerfully geometric black and white patterns of native pottery I had seen at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
It also brought to mind the many fantastically contorted trees that dot the plateau. All in shades of grey, shadow and texture, line and volume.
I cannot deal with the rich reds and ochers, the saturated blue of the sky, the multicolored record of the eons of erosion and deposition as the Colorado River and the winds carved their way down to sea level. Too much color, too much confusion, and also too much of a trope- available printed on a multitude of items in the many gift shops here in the Park. Black, white and grey with hints of underpainted color would be my palette for these new pieces.
So that is what I have done, am doing. The smaller piece was completed quickly and without internal struggle- it created flow. Blessed flow. Creative crack for artists. I finally have done something true to myself and my mission here. Another, more complex piece- inspired by the tree forms- is nearing completion. My world has righted itself and now I feel the press of time. I have to pack up on Thursday, as I give thanks for the abundance in my life. I leave Friday morning early to begin the 4-day drive home. I will while away some of those highway hours sketching in my mind the works I hope to achieve over the winter in my studio.
Do I wish I had reached this place earlier in my time here? Yes, Of course I do. But that isn't the way it happened and I am just very grateful- and relieved- that it happened at all.