Chaos and the Pit: Creativity and the Art of Shame Avoidance

I suspect all creative people have a pit in their workspaces and studios.

It can be a dangerous pit to stumble upon. Full of all kinds of strange things that bring up conflicting emotions.

The mouth of the pit could be hidden in a closet or a cupboard or in a box somewhere.

For me, it has always been a place of shame – a collection of bedraggled drawings, splotchy paintings and wrinkled papers, with the occasional sheet of really bad poetry brought on by an overdose of theatrical emotion thrown in for good measure.

I hate my pit of unfinished projects but I carry it around with me – partly because I am still hoping for a Eureka moment – where I magically decide where the problems are and how to fix them, and partly because I just can`t bring myself to throw out perfectly good art supplies.(Even though I haven`t reused them yet).

I thought the small sketchbook I began in September last year would end up in the pit for sure.

At the time when I decided to participate in the 2010 Sketchbook Project I thought it looked like a good idea. A way for my work to travel and get seen, an encouragement for me to continue sketching, an interesting, somewhat collaborative diversion…

Five months should be more than enough time to fill a sketchbook.

By Jan 1, 2011 I think I had the first page mostly complete, and had text on half of the pages.

My personal life was chaotic at best and I was sure that I had a new addition to my pit o`shame.

However, being an artist it turned out to be pretty natural for me to process my life through creating art. And even though I don`t see the work I created in the book as dark or chaotic, I did find that creating art gave my mind and heart a place to rest, just a step or two away from daily life.

Art was therapy.

I soon realized I actually had a chance at avoiding the pit. I could really make the project deadline of Jan 15, 2011 if I really focused and worked hard.

There was a pin prick of light – so I went for it.

And dear reader, I am happy to say that my sketchbook was postmarked Jan 14, 2011.

Not all my drawings, or all of the pages turned out to be Mona Lisa quality, but I think there are a few gems.

So I thought I`d share them with you over the next few days, weeks, whatever…  Unless you happen to live in one of the cities that the sketchbook tour stops in, these pictures are the only way that most people will ever see these drawings – although they will be digitized onto the main art house coop site eventually.

SO …

lets start the show…


(until then, avoid as many of your own pit falls as possible!)


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