I’m Making Art Right Now


The Long View

On Thursday, after 2 weeks off, I hit the Whiskeag Trail in Bath for a 25 minute run with Oliver (a very happy post-run Ollie is pictured above). My hip was stiff but the run felt great. On Saturday, I made the misstep of running 40 minutes on the road. My hip started aching a few miles in, and it’s been sore ever since. Looking ahead, I’m eager to do speed work and begin training for my first half marathon, but I know I can’t pick up the pace or distance too rapidly. I’m taking the long view–or trying to. The plan: run easy; work out the kinks with the foam roller and tennis ball; and cross train several days a week. The long view: take it easy now and enjoy fantastic future adventures and years of growth as a runner.

I’m Making Art Right Now

Several years ago, the artist, writer, and AIDS activist, Gregg Bordowitz gave a lecture at the Maine College of Art in conjunction with the publication of his book, The Aids Crisis is Ridiculous. I knew Gregg from my time as an MFA student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I was eager to reconnect and hear his thoughts. One of the subjects of the evening was the busy nature of Gregg’s life and practice. During the post-talk QnA, someone in the room expressed judgment about what he saw as Gregg’s missing commitment to “actual studio practice.” Gregg responded, “I’m making art right now.” This response has stayed with me over the years. Most artists and writers feel they never have enough PURE studio time. Gregg’s view was that in the midst of a lecture circuit, he was fully engaged in his creative practice. This resonates for me. I often speak about “the studio in my head,” which, when I’m busy and tuned in, I’m drawing, painting, and problem solving even as I’m giving lectures, running, or chopping vegetables. Sometimes it would be just plain slippery to claim that I’m Making Art Right Now; sometimes there’s just too much mental clutter, but I know that when I’m engaged and present, I am producing ideas and images–my creative work is underway. In a wonderful moment of congruity, an artist friend gave me a copy of  “The Art of Being Still,” by Silas House (NY Times, 12-2-12). The author describes himself as someone who is “nearly always in motion,” which I can relate to. House goes on to say that,

…those who know me best realize that I am being still even in my most active moments. This is because I’m not talking about the kind of stillness that involves locking yourself in a room with a laptop, while you wait for the words to come. We writers must learn how to become still in our heads, to achieve the sort of stillness that allows our senses to become heightened. The wonderful non-fiction writer Joyce Dyer refers to this as seeing like an animal. (9)

As I think about stillness in action, and “seeing like an animal,” it occurs to me that I am most still when I am running, which is probably why running almost always fires up my art brain.

About lucindasrunningblog

Lucinda is an artist and teacher whose work focused on landscape and place. Bliss currently serves as Dean of Graduate Studies at Massachusetts College of Art and Design
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4 Responses to I’m Making Art Right Now

  1. mmwm says:

    Ollie! ❤
    I know what you mean about being still when you are doing something. Synthesis happens.
    Running on pavement … hard. Even walking on pavement. Glad you're running again, anyway.

    • Ollie is especially pleased that I’m back on the trails! And I should have known better than to run on the road my second day back. It’s been really hard taking a break (lots of chatter and not so much stillness in action). I was overeager. Back to the woods tomorrow!

  2. I understand the long view idea- as this is the view to sustaining our bodies and all else. I walked 9 miles on T-Giving with my sticks and my ankle paid- even though I did not twist or injure it. I ACCEPT and work with it. I hear this in your words. It hasn’t stopped me from walking either.
    I relate the animal aliveness you mention to feeling what’s in my body rather than any conceptual inner conversation. What is my body telling me? as it knows before my mind does. I have always found that walking and being outside is part of my process- (makes me think of Richard Long) sometimes visions or solutions arrive sudenly:with the movement. Leaving in the morning for my 30 day retreat where I will be living with my inner animal.

  3. Lovely to find you here, Cynthia. I hope that you find new ways to access your animal aliveness and creative visions on your retreat. Can’t wait to hear about it on your return or via snail mail! No technology will bring another way to ponder the long view.

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