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Creative Process - Dance of Muses

A painting of two masked figures dancing in the shadows
Danse of Muses

In the course of making this painting, like it often happens, my mind wandered places that are quite strange and interesting; one could say, meta. The unconscious mind seems to be so free when our attention is focused on a task like art-making, that it starts to reflect upon that very activity in novel ways.I began to realize I am animated by two sources of creative inspiration at opposite ends of a spectrum.

One is light in all senses of the words; life-giving, playful, almost angelic. It is like the muses of the Greeks, or the Anima in psychological terms. A counterpart to my psyche that is somehow wiser than me, and feeds me ideas in a mist of loving images. It is also the part of the artist, I believe, that is enriched by the deep relationships in their life. To feel love for another human is like a call to this source of creative light to emerge. It engenders the desire to create things in honor of these loved ones, and as gifts for them .

The other side of inspiration, just as powerful, is a demon muse: the dark friend at the bottom of my gut that pushes the more chaotic side of art, and feeds on self-destruction. This is the ever-present death drive, as Freud identified it. The siren call to drown into a trance of desperate creation, no matter how much it may decay the body and mind afterward.

These dual sources both inform my art and I have kept them separate, because I was afraid of letting them touch each other. Now I feel like I am finally able to let them merge, in a way that is potent… to let them entwine. As the dance of acceptance between the light and shadow muses unfolds, I get the sense that this marriage of opposites is the path to the most interesting and true art.

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