I still remember the joy I got out of drawing, painting and building a world of my own when I was a child. I was free. I try to recapture that feeling I had making art as a child and to believe in magic, to play, to dream. Children see things and feel things that adults don’t.
As an adult, there are many barriers to being in this creative state of mind. I feel constantly challenged by these barriers. It is very difficut to let go of responsibilities and enter a creative fantasyland. It’s hard to stop looking at the clock and our bills. It’s hard not to drown in relationship problems and all the negative thoughts that deflate our motivation to create. If you can summon the strength to get past all these things and trust your heart, creativity can be miraculous. You can be transported to another existence.
There are two very different parts to the brain. There is the logical side and the creative side. To make art you have to stop thinking in a linear way. You have to bring to life the part of your brain that finds mystical wonder in life and nature. There is a part of your soul that can spend hours admiring the subtle colors and shapes in an old raccoon skull. You have to find the particular things that bring out your spirit. It may be to get up at the crack of dawn to explore the flea market in search of treasure. Perhaps light incense and listen to music that would embarrass you if anyone knew about, and wonder about alchemy, astrology and the secrets of the universe. It is the part of your spirit that still feels like a kid, and is awe-inspired and fascinated by the world.
My goal in art is to get past literal conscious thought and try to let my uninhibited subconscious mind make my art. I can feel it when this is working. I have heard many artists describe the same feeling. Some think it is the hand of God using them as an instrument of creation. Some describe it as the creative energizing force that permeates all nature creating through them. It is like being helped by some unknown mysterious force, Anima Mundi, the Spirit of the Universe.
You must trust your subconscious and the unknown sources it can tap into. There is so much for our minds to sort out. Millions of images and thoughts spinning around. If it were all there right the front of your conscious thinking your head would explode. My subconscious mysteriously sorts through this sea of thoughts and images and somehow synthesizes pieces from here and there and brings together paintings. They are the exclusive product of my unique mind. There is only one of each of us and our visions are the special product of our experiences and special unique thoughts.
I am drawn towards certain images and icons with a strong instinct. I feel I just have to paint certain things. I try not to question that. I can get just as much inspiration from a classical painting by Jacques-Louis David as a comic book cover by Daniel Clowes. I try to not judge one to be more legitimate than the other. The mystified gaze of a Keane girl can provide as much inspiration as the penetrating stare of a Rembrandt portrait.
I find it so much easier to be creatively free at night. Daytime is for sleeping. Nighttime is the best time for making art. The later at night it gets the further into another world you go. A few years ago while working very late one night, the distinct smell walnuts in the air broke my concentration. It was very quiet. A strange breeze gently blew through my studio. I suddenly became aware of something on my shoulder. Surprisingly, I was not startled to find a wee Abraham Lincoln sitting right there on my shoulder. We looked at each other for just a moment. Then he very softly whispered in my ear “paint meat.”
-- Mark Ryden, 2001