I found resilience in Paris. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I won’t ever be the same after the crazy trip that almost wasn’t. I found my heart, I found faith, and it wasn’t until I was home that I realized how much I had changed. Perspective. Self. Choices. Traveling is awesome that way, pulling things into clarity like nothing else. It also helps to ponder the big questions underneath a full moon in one of the worlds most beautiful cities. Nope, not too shabby. Pondering life under starlight in Paris. Yup. Sounds just about right.
The last day I was there, I smiled. A genuine ear to ear smile, lit from every cell. All by myself, on a bridge over the river Seine on the way to the Musee D’Orsay, which is gorgeous by the way, I stood there grinning with absolute certainty I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Such certainty rarely happens in my world. I liked it. I hope it comes around often.
I never thought the day would come when I would suspend the 125 Images Project. I just never thought I would. It’s in my nature to power through uncomfortable situations, but I found myself with spotty internet service in Paris, and mounting frustration over what I was drawing. The first week of the project was off to a shaky start which I expected. I know I’m not any good at portraits. Hell, I know I’m not very good at this at all, but that was never actually the point. The part I was struggling with was the why of it all. I felt so disconnected to what I was drawing and uninspired, not because of the people, but because I realized I can’t tell my story this way. Like I had taken a hard left off my path and it was taking me further from my center than I care to be at the moment. Hmmm…maybe a moment to regroup, breathe, start again…I thought if I just stopped a moment, an answer would form. Mulling things over in Paris isn’t a half bad plan. It turned out to be a really fantastic place to mull. Wine. Beauty. Cafes. Long walks. Panoramic views. History. Wine. Passion. Wine. Gorgeous architecture. More wine…
It helped that I had beautiful museums, and sights to soak in – all of the imagery, all of the details, all of the amazingness that is Paris. And my cousin Jenn, she was a lovely distraction as well. So, I bowed out for a week, in part because I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I wanted to see all of it, but also, because, let’s face it, I was struggling to find my footing within this project. I just couldn’t find my heart in it. I kept wrestling with questions like – what am I doing? What does this mean to me? How does this further my story? Because that was always the point and what made the first project successful was that the images told my story – no one else could tell that story – no one else could draw those images, because they came from such a deep place inside me. It never mattered how good, how bad, how transcendent, how stupid, how anything. It just mattered that I created them. And the first week into this project, I hadn’t even come close. I was nowhere I wanted to be. I think I was too ambitious (not surprising) but I also think that I sold myself short at the same time. In truth, I maybe thought I needed the constructs, the rules, the limitations, but in the end, I just felt tied, and I really don’t like that feeling. Not one bit.
My cousin is struggling to finish her dissertation for her PHD. She has a lot of work to still do, and she is feeling the pressure to just get it done. I existed in academia for a long time, and I know this drill well. I also know the hell it creates if she isn’t careful. I heard myself giving her the advice to find her current interests within her past work, and that if she didn’t find something to love about it, to connect to, something relevant to who she is now, it was going to be a beast to finish. Ha! I’m hilarious:) I should so take my own advice…
Last night I drew a heart as the first image of the restart, and I know what I want to draw tonight, and neither of these images have anything to do with a portrait. It’s time to just draw, and discover, and let my visions take me where they take me, because they do, every time. They lead me to where I need to be, and keep my heart in the center of all of it, where it should be. I have many stories to tell, and I believe that they are intricately connected to image. I understand. I didn’t before, but I do now. Maybe a graphic novel of Glitter Witches. Maybe books. Maybe a book of spells. Maybe a tarot deck. Maybe animation. Maybe design. For now, I want to bring this project back to my center and let the stories unfold how they wish. There may be portraits, but there are other things that need to come out to. There may be pen & ink, there maybe watercolor, there maybe pencil..I just don’t know, and it’s awesome! Thank goodness – I feel so much better:)
I have realized that a very important part of this process has to with how the images become like a stream of consciousness story for me, one image leading to the next image leading to the next image. The portraits were too jagged to keep those ideas swirling – this may be a clue that my life is still too compartmentalized, but at the moment I have to work with what I have in front of me. Everything needs to loosen up, and all I really care about in this moment is that I draw every day, and that when I do my full spirit is present, my full heart is present, my faith, my love, my hope. Freedom. Creativity. Imagination. Vision. I don’t care about skill. I care about communication. I care about transformation. I care about drawing my story.
So I am going to resist naming this restart, and let’s just see what happens. Maybe it will go colorful. Maybe it will go anatomical. Maybe it will end up mostly creatures or fairies or trashcans or states of mind…or constellations….or fruits! Maybe it will be the 125 Images Project – Chairs! However this goes, I know I won’t find it by force. I find it by softening, focusing, and listening, and feeling my way through the lines like I always have. I find it by calming to my center, because that was the point of all of this in the first place. Home.