Under pressure

I ran over to Pagoda Arts this week and picked up all my new little wooden people.

I’m really happy with how they turned out, but wow, it’s a lot to get my head around. Or even my eyes around.

Have you heard about how David Bowie would write songs by jotting down words on paper, throwing them on the floor, and then picking them up at random and putting them together?

He would refine it from there, but that randomness was the foundation the song grew from.

Bowie was always a bit hit or miss for me, but I don’t think anyone can deny his creative chutzpah. I know I can’t.

1973 bowie

And I thought this little system of his was a great way to start from a place of wildness that resists the pressure (insane for him, I’m sure) to repeat, repeat, repeat your previous formula that led you to success. Or even just the pressure to be clever.

I was reminded of all this as I sorted these people, because after that I will be letting randomness take over.

The process I found while doing Cultivate was to grab a bunch of the people at random, fit them together, move them around, and then see what the group wanted: more people, or a change of one character.

Over time I realized I sensed what was needed by the shape first: someone standing, someone reaching out, someone sitting. And then usually I knew I wanted a girl or a boy, a man or a woman. A baby.

So I’m now presorting them by shape and by gender, the same way I would set up a palette by color.

As I worked on the paintings this week I found myself engaged in a very similar process. See the little slips of paper?

They’re indicating what color comes next, and the paintings are arranged in groups by color. I was making myself crazy digging through the 13 pieces trying to find which ones needed pink next, etc.

Having it organized gives me all that great energy back to relax and focus on the piece in front of me and feel where the colors go.

So this week, here’s to finding the systems that give you space for wildness. Even under pressure.

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