The stream meandered through woods and fields, came to a place with gently sloping hills and lush growing greens. Life was abundant there, and was drawn to the place. Animals played, had their young, and birds nested in the tree limbs and hollows.
Storms brought flooding brown waters and dropped their silt on the bottom as the ages passed; the silt layers deepened and became shale layered with the many colors of the storms.
People came and found the place good; food was plentiful and the hills rose above the waters when they rose in flood, fish idled in them when they gently flowed. Transient camps with quickly erected shelters were perched on the hillside, fires glowed at night. Children and hunters, women gathering food crossed the place on the rocks above the waters.
The place by the stream took in the life, the energy, the light of the sun and the rage of the rain, and slowly became imbued with power.
Years passed and war came to the people who had settled there and to a nearby village where hats were made and sold to provide a living for the villagers. A huge conflict between two nations had risen in the affairs of man, and soldiers marched by with their weapons, camped by the stream to rest at night and on their way to battles. The village was the unhappy host of a grand conflict, and lives were lost, perhaps the stream took their blood into its flow.
The war ended, the victors had their own rule and time passed on. New families came and built homes by the stream. A small house was completed atop the hill, and others joined it. The people of the small community sought the place to build a bridge to join the sides together so that they could pass over the waters on their daily pursuits.
They found the place where the stream gave a rare charge; the energy of the years had concentrated there and it felt special. The bridge was built, fine and sturdy and many passed over it in its time.
When the rain times came and the waters rose, they gathered on the bridge, umbrellas in hand, to see the rise of the waters, feel the energy of the floods charge through. Laughter and excitement from witnessing the drama of nature rang through the roar of the waters. Those who built too near the stream found the waters inside their home; the bridge was strong though and withstood the flood times.
Time passed, new families came, some houses were taken down and bigger ones on divided land were built. And the bridge was taken down. The new people did not know of the energy, the special history of the place, nor did they cross the waters on their daily paths. The waters were now crossed by car on the service bridge of the road.
But the bridge has its memories, its own power that it has gathered, and it stays by the stream and dreams in sun, shadow and falling rain.
She is a guardian. She is a fairy. She has blue hair and flies around my head.
No, I can’t see her, but two of my friends who are more “in touch” with their psychic side have told me of their thoughts on the matter. And that she is my guardian.
But she certainly makes herself known.
Over the years I have worked and taught in my home studio, I have had many, many artists and students create art in the room with me. Hundreds of people have worked there, and so many times I have heard, “I do my very best work here, in this room. When I go home, it just isn’t as good”.
And “Where did the time go? I just got here!”
When the muse is there she creates an amazing thing- inspired silence. Energy flows through the room, crackles the atmosphere. Everyone in the room is bent over their work, art flowing through their hands. If I inquire if anyone wants help I am met by silence.
And that session’s work is wonderful.
When the muse is absent, it is apparent to all; tortured doubts, inertia, much sighing and many requests for guidance are heard. All progress made is fought for like climbing a steep hillside. Nothing about the art feels perfect that day.
But the muse- when she is there is so capricious! She craftily steals hours away from me, and I don’t even mind. She gives a glow, a magic to my work, flows her energy through my insides and outward to my hands. A dab here, a splash of color there, it is just perfect. All artwork is fought for, but when the muse is there the battle is stacked in my favor.
She is a trickster, this muse. She has dropped a little piece of paper from the ceiling onto a student’s work. Splashed drops of water onto several people’s faces and necks on days when only pencils were being used. Stolen paint brushes, visuals, artwork, only to replace them later in unlikely places. Or not at all.
I make jokes about the “brownie” of the studio.
Imagination is a tool, a gift, a force of nature. My imagination is fed through reading, seeing, fantasizing, playing, people, animals, music… It makes me very curious about most everything. I am rarely bored in my life with it for company.
I hope for all you artists of all artistic disciplines that you too know the joy of a muse in your studio~
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“Most of the time I feel every year of my age,” said the retired adult art student, “but when I am here doing art, I feel like I am sixteen again.”
“Is it time to go already?! I can’t believe and hour and a half have passed!”
Life has a way of wearing down your edges. Some edges are well gone; the wisdom gained over years can increase your kindness and and tolerance toward others.
But the fresh perceptions and excitement of youth and new experience are truly a sad loss. And the dreams you had and allowed to drift away can take with them your passion for living and make you feel old and tired.
But the act of learning new skills, processes, and using them to create ideas unique to yourself, ah, seems to be magic. Time stands still, your aches and cares can disappear, and you become immersed in your own creative world.
How did you actually get into this place where time stands still and the real world goes elsewhere?
“…Brain studies on creativity reveal what goes on at that “Aha!” moment, when we get a sudden insight. If you measure EEG brain waves during a creative moment, it turns out there is very high gamma activity that spikes 300 milliseconds before the answer comes to us. Gamma activity indicates the binding together of neurons, as far-flung brain cells connect in a new neural network – as when a new association emerges. Immediately after that gamma spike, the new idea enters our consciousness.
This heightened activity focuses on the temporal area, a center on the side of the right neocortex. This is the same brain area that interprets metaphor and “gets” jokes. It understands the language of the unconscious, what Freud called the “primary process”: the language of poems, of art, of myth. It’s the logic of dreams, where anything goes and the impossible is possible.
That high gamma spike signals that the brain has a new insight. At that moment, right hemisphere cells are using these longer branches and connections to other parts of the brain. They’ve collected more information and put it together in a novel organization. What’s the best way to mobilize this brain ability? It’s first to concentrate intently on the goal or problem, and then relax into stage three: let go. The converse of letting go – trying to force an insight – can inadvertently stifle creative breakthrough. If you’re thinking and thinking about it, you may just be getting more tense and not coming up with fresh ways of seeing things, let alone a truly creative insight.
So to get to the next stage, you just let go. Unlike the intense focus of grappling with a problem head-on, the third stage is characterized by a high alpha rhythm, which signals mental relaxation, a state of openness, of daydreaming and drifting, where we’re more receptive to new ideas. This sets the stage for the novel connections that occur during the gamma spike….”
Cool. The place where the Muse lives.
When a person is sixteen, their physical state may be at a peak. Many feel healthy and strong, fearless and invulnerable. But they may also have feelings of personal inadequacy as they navigate the turmoil of adolescence.
With years of living can come development of self, of faith in what you have done and know how to do.
A creative activity that can transport a person to the state of feeling young and excited and capable of depicting something beautiful on paper is a wonderful activity indeed!
And when the activity time has drawn to a close, a person can rise slowly, stiff in muscle and joyous and full of wonder at how the time that stood still for hours has indeed passed on the clock. And that they feel so good about how that time was spent.
So – yes- art can be a fountain of youth, an insular time capsule that transports, stops time and feeds the spirit.
And can make you feel sixteen again.
Hope you have a creative week, to all!