There are many artists I know that enjoy a second artistic discipline as a way to assist or add a creative burst to their primary art career. For instance, author Natalie Goldberg, who lives in New Mexico (best known for her book “Writing Down the Bones”) mostly writes. She has written a ton of books by now, (I count 14 on her website, but I am sure there are many more) and teaches writing. She also, according to some of her audios I have listened to, paints. She even wrote a book about her painting, and how it helps her write. Some of my friends who paint like to write, dance, play an instrument. By taking a creative break from our primary medium – one that we strive to master, make a living from, and/or turn our career into – we get a different perspective.
My career or profession is painting. And once I chose that primary profession, I am then even more specifically labeled; by a certain style of painting, and often by the use of certain mediums – acrylic for now. And all that labeling can sometimes feel a bit confining. While cramming to produce enough work for my galleries who represent me, and my clients, I crave ways to expand my thinking. My “affair” or art on the side, is ballet. Often it is while doing ballet that I get my new inspiration. In ballet, there is a constant striving for a certain ideal or perfection, that is impossible to reach due to the limitations of our own human body. But yet, in ballet class everyone, no matter what level of expertise still strives to get better. And unlike an aerobics class, in ballet you need to use EVERY part of your body, brain, spirit. My teacher, who is excellent at taking each person to their next step, will comment on where my eyes are focused, while I am struggling to keep balanced on one leg with my arms in the correct position. Sometimes its annoying but it does keep me in gear.
I have found that even cooking in the kitchen, and creating a new dish can improve my painting.
Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty that I am taking “time off” from what I SHOULD be doing (painting) as I am heading towards my ballet class. But every time I get myself to that ballet barre I am glad. My painting sessions afterwards run smoother, I feel better, and much more expanded in my thinking. I guess the word “should” is a clue. Let’s stop feeling guilty and do what we LOVE – and let that freedom take on a wide variety of forms. One of my teacher’s David True, once commented that we only have 4 good painting hours in us each day. If we keep painting after that we just ruin the work, or go backwards on our progress. I think about that often, and it helps me get over the guilt of taking precious time during our day to “have an affair”.