I was told once by a friend who is a successful therapist that most artists he worked with needed to keep creating or they had a tendency to slip into depression. While I’m not usually a depressive type and don’t mind spending long periods of time alone I notice I feel generally better if I’m working on a painting that has some meaning for me. I am not so concerned with whether it’s going to appeal to others.

For example, my most recent large project titled, at this point, “Utila Tortuga” will be a photo realist painting of a sea turtle I saw recently while diving near Utila Island in Honduras. Spotting this beautiful, ancient (they’ve been around since before the dinosaurs), graceful creature as it slowly glided past, a few feet from me, was an epiphany. All thought fled my mind. I wasn’t even thinking “Turtle” or “Beautiful.” It was a  pure Zen moment, one I’ll never forget. I saw all the brilliant sunsplash markings, the elegant movement of the flippers, the purposeful, beaked head with its symmetrical markings all in a total gestalt. I tried to follow it but it quickly picked up speed and disappeared over the reef wall, plunging into the dark depths.  So it is important to me to try and reproduce this moment in photorealist detail.  I’ve been studying photos of turtles and reefs in the Caribbean and the quality of light underwater is very interesting.  If objects are near the surface, as my turtle was, surfaces that slope away from the observer take on a blue green tinge, obscuring the natural color.  I will do this as a final spray once the body is completed.

So I am quite happy to be working on this project even though it is a slow and very painstaking process.  Yesterday I put in 3 hours on the dark patterning on the right flipper.  It was almost finished when my Corel Painter program developed a hiccup.  All work lost into the Void!  Whaaaat the &%#@!  Now that’s depressing, and its always hard to redo stuff you’ve already done.  So today I started to do some work on another part of the body, just to keep going.  Maybe tomorrow I will revive the lost flipper. 

So my advice to all you artists out there is keep working, even if its just a doodle, or a sketch or whatever.  It’s Important to You to keep the creative flow happening.  If you run into a snag, try something else, perhaps another project.  Also you may find meditation helpful to your artistic life.  I certainly do. 

One of the things I try to be aware of is my process when painting.  Obviously, I am experiencing thoughts going through the mind, and I’m moving the digital pen on the tablet, and I’m making decisions about shape and color, zooming in and out, etc.  However, the best moments are when the mind is very quiet and there’s just the act of painting, no self here doing anything.  That’s known in Zen as a samadhi state, with the mind intensely aware, yet peaceful and silent.  That state comes more often when I am doing regular zazen meditation at the local Zen Center.  Then the art truly comes from the best possible place and the work is deeply satisfying. 

The lost flipper

The lost flipper

I’m thinking of selling this, once completed, as a digital image, suitable for large  HDTV monitors.  Stay tuned to www.artbyinglis.com  New Works galllery for details.