I am often asked, who is my Muse. Who is that person I keep drawing over and over? And to be honest, when this question comes up I cringe a little. Because I don't have a good answer. I mean it is easy to say it is just imagination or memory or whatever, but the truth is, I just don't know. However, I can tell you who my Muse is not. It is not any one individual. It is not someone I know or have known, at least not consciously. And it’s not even someone I hope to meet in the future. What I do know, is how it shows up.
For example, in my ‘Morning Sketches’ (find them here on Instagram), I draw until I recognize something. Often it just starts as a feeling, a kind of excitement. It might just be the way the paper is taking the graphite that morning or the way certain tonal values or lines begin to vibrate. But it’s definitely when things really start to make sense. And then I draw until I feel an emotional connection to the piece. I bet you creatives out there, regardless of your medium, know exactly what I am talking about. Right? It’s that feeling you get when you know you are in the groove, the flow. And always, at some point, the drawing/painting/poem takes over and becomes what it needs to be. Or maybe, you become what you need to be, for it to all come together. That is the paradox, right?
But what is it exactly that I recognize? That seems so familiar? I can’t help but believe, it is our life experiences that drive us to create, in the first place. Things like loss, negativity, and sadness, and for that matter, positive aspects of our lives, tend to accumulate in the bones. And for us to grow, they eventually have to spill out somewhere. I suppose you could call it spiritual growth or spiritual healing or just plain letting go. Whatever you call it, I believe it’s necessary and Art is one vehicle that allows this to happen. But Art is also reciprocal.
How often do you hear a song and know without a doubt it was written for your situation. The artist somehow captured the exact thing you are going through in that particular moment. Whether it be a heartbreak or whatever other catastrophe just landed on your doorstep, the lyricist seemed to know. And how often do you recognize yourself in a drawing or painting. Maybe not the likeness, but the emotion. So, Art is the great connector.
And maybe that is the simple answer. The Muse is that connection. The connection we all share. Often someone will tell me they see themselves in my work. I am not sure there could be any greater compliment. So, maybe the next time someone asks me, who is your Muse, I think I could safely say, it's probably you.
Who is your Muse? What drives you to create? And perhaps more importantly, what hinders your creativity?
Pat Greenwell is an artist. A painter and sometimes poet, he has been searching the New Mexico desert for a couple of years now, looking for lost possibilities and probable intentions.
"...mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff, you know...