Although it’s an exhilarating experience to work at high creative speed and energy, there are times when making art can be painstakingly slow. During creative recovery, art making can be cautious due to overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. However, there are clear advantages to a slowed-down art making process.
In Greek mythology, Oedipus’s father pins his son’s ankles together and leaves him to die on a mountain. (He does this to prevent that Oedipus will unwittingly kill his father and marry his own mother.) In his book Labyrinth, Peter Pesic explores the idea of ‘the wounded seeker’, the seeker of truth in the search for the hidden meaning in Science. The seeker, who like Oedipus is ‘wounded in his feet’ and is lame, has an advantage in seeking a new kind of knowledge. Pesic explains the relation between lameness and insight:
Rather than crippling disabilities, these wounds are the very means through which he finds the solution to the riddle: his lameness slows him down and lets him grasp what others hurry past.
When I restarted in my studio after many years I felt paralyzed to create. To cope with this complexity I needed to defragment and deconstruct my thought processes. I imagined that my environment purely rested on the binary of circles and lines and nothing else. In other words, this was all there was to draw and interpret.
I started simply in this way – drawing circles and lines – as this was all there supposedly was to draw. I reckoned that even if I managed to draw even one circle a day I had made art for that day. Although I was perturbed by the minimal amount of work I had to show at the end of a working day, there was a definitive, growing sense of creative self-worth. By the end of the first week I was able to explore slightly deeper.
Like Oedipus, my wound (my slow art making process) becomes my path to a new kind of knowledge.