Last night’s conversation among four artists, each working in a different discipline (painting, film, fiber, pottery) touched on how the artist’s ego plays a part both in the creative process as well as the post-creative life of the completed work of art. For the most part I am not attached to my paintings once they are completed. I am happy for them to find their way into the lives of others. If I have done my job well, the painting will continue to open the mind and heart of the viewer to new thoughts, emotions, memories and ideas through a balance of beauty, movement and the tension sparked by shapes, lines and color.

Perhaps it is the manner in which I paint that prevents my ego from getting involved during the creative process. My ego must step aside and allow my anima to direct the brush strokes and the splattering of paint. The anima is defined in Jungian philosphy as the inner self, the soul of an individual, not the external persona or the ego. If I do not shut off my ego, the painting does not reach the critical point at which I begin to have a sense of direction. From that point I become extremely focused on the needs of the painting. It is not a question of what I want the painting to be but what the painting has the potential of being.

Ego may be defined as the self, distinct from the world and other selves. When I am painting well I feel as if the work I am creating is a collaborative work and I do not have a sense of ownership. Joy and the euphoria of creativity is experienced during the process of balancing the chaos with which I begin the painting and while coaxing the painting into a form that conveys a universal message. The message might be profound and it might be rather superficial, it is not something I attempt to control.

For more than twenty years, I produced art without experiencing creativity. I struggled to express something meaningful and to produce what I thought to be quality art. It amazes me that I continued to paint. I felt like I was on the right path going the wrong direction. Now I feel as if I’ve stepped off the path to explore the unknown. I love every minute of the adventure and the increasing difficulty of the challenge.