Making art is chaotic. I often find myself overwhelmed by the
all consuming intensity of the process. One month ago I
finished a super-sized artwork that was in production for
almost six months. This work is the culmination of many
cycles. One cycle that had lasted seventeen years
unexpectedly came to fruition in this piece. I was elated.
By early April, the inevitable post-production let down began.
What would I do next? What did I have to say?
Would it be any good? Would anyone buy it?
I was not worried. When I need a map of the creative process
I turn to the 10 Zen Ox herding pictures.
I trust the creative process.
In this very open, in-between time, before I plan the next large work,
I promise myself that I will do more than just visual art;
I will also be mindfully aware of each stage as it unfolds.
So far, so good. The process has been closely adhering to the map of
the ox herding pictures. Each stage I've seen so far is summed up here:
Stage 1) Late March/Early April - Seeking the ox - For several weeks I was in dissolution, seeking a direction, unable to find the path.
Stage 2) Mid April while traveling home - Finding the tracks- A few
new compositions, some ideas begin to form and fit together,
I get excited about how the charcoal looks on primer,
and suddenly I have a path to follow.
Stage 3) Early this week - new imagery and good ideas for
the next large work. This is stage three of the Ox herding images when the ox appears, and, as if on cue, the image above appeared.
Now I must amplify that presence, grab it by the horns, and bring it
into the world.
I leave you with the verse that often accompanies the third ox herding image:
A nightingale warbles on a twig,
the sun shines on undulating willows.
There stands the Ox, where could he hide?
That splendid head, those stately horns,
what artist could portray them?
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