Lessons from Kandinsky

This is one of the images that surfaced yesterday when I was trying to decide what to post.  It's a photo of the newsprint I always put down when I'm painting; I found I liked the paint leftovers as much or more than I liked the actual paintings I was creating.

So yesterday I looked at it and smiled, and then rejected it; too rough, too odd.  But then last night we were watching the Olympics and there was an ad on TV that briefly displayed the website for the Guggenheim Museum in New York.  And right there on the front page was this image by Kandinsky:

Well, HELLO!  If Kandinsky can do it -- the same Kandinsky who said "the duty of the artist is to bring light into men's souls" -- I shouldn't be ashamed to post this, right?  Although -- why do I need permission?  Why do I not just have the courage of my own convictions?  And of course, Kandinsky spoke to that as well: “The artist must be blind to distinction between 'recognized' or 'unrecognized' conventions of form, deaf to the transitory teaching and demands of his particular age.”

Yup.  and immediately I hear echoes of what Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird: "The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole.  The light they shine on this hole, this pit, helps us cut away or step around the brush and brambles; then we can dance around the rim of the abyss, holler into it, measure it, throw rocks in it, and still not fall in.  It can no longer swallow us up."

But, she goes on to say, "You can't do this without discovering your own true voice, and you can't find your true voice and peer behind the door and report honestly and clearly to us if your parents are reading over your shoulder....So you have to breathe or pray or do therapy to send them away.  Write as if your parents are dead....You can't get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief.  Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth.

-- which echoes something I read in Soul Making just yesterday:

"Doesn't God reveal himself in the areas of our greatest weakness -- in our questioning, our probing, our suffering, and our anger?  I believe he does.  This is why the questions are important.  They stretch and enlarge the heart so that it is capable of receiving a deeper revelation.  They expand our horizons.  It would be strange if we didn't find this enlarging and expanding process deeply disturbing."

And that's always the struggle, isn't it -- to write, to paint, to photograph out of your own unique vision of the world; to follow your own instincts, even if they lead you down into a pit; to trust that whatever is calling to you, however different it may be from what you understood to be "normal," has validity, has meaning, has a gift to offer someone, somewhere, through you. 

Which means that it makes perfect sense that we would struggle when something wants to reveal itself through us that is gritty, imperfect; that speaks of life and its challenges, or triggers our deepest insecurities.  That doesn't mean we don't still offer it to the world.  But it DOES mean we are careful about what we share and how and where we share it... 


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