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Filling the Well

November 16, 2013

Since I have been working full-time at a job where the primary motivation is to make a profit, I have found my creative well consistently running dry. When I dive down into the blackness of the well, I come back empty-handed, parched and disappointed. Then, I begin to question my vocational identity. Am I an artist afterall? I feel nothing. I have nothing to say. I want nothing. I am tired. bored. and cranky.

But there is a remedy.

As Julia Cameron recommends in her book, The Artist Way, an artist must fill her well by taking herself out on “artist dates.”

In the past month, I have taken myself out on two such dates. The first date was to The ContemporAry Museum in downtown Austin where I saw an exhibition by Marianne Vitale.


And an experimental film by Liam Gillick. The film was broken up into smaller films and my favorite one was projected upside down. So the cars were upside and moving in the top part of the screen and the sky filled most of the middle and bottom parts. It was like watching a sci-fi film – the cars looked like space ships. And what was eye-opening for me was how the sky filled the frame. We don’t notice the sky when we see a film projected right side up. We look at the familiar objects that we can identify and ignore the expansive, all pervasive sky.

This is not the film, but I went to YouTube and found this clip when I typed in “Upside Down Cars”

An upside down movie clip

The second artist date was to a Culture-mapping meet-up event where painting stations were set up and attendees could have wine and paint a small canvas. I painted this in the dark in about 10 minutes. (The canvas photographed on my kitchen counter.)


So, I filled my well. Now, in the place of depression, I have hope. I feel more alive and happy. But just like water in a well, these feelings will diminish. I must continue to fill my well.

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