"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...I wanted to live deep..."
There is an abundance of information about the mechanics of being an artist ( and yes, I write my own share of it), but at times I want to get back to the idea of creating deliberately...to create deeply. I started wondering if a concept like living off the grid might help me return to those quiet moments where I find insight into what it means to create art.
When I first thought about taking my art off the grid I imagined shutting down my blog, my website, closing my facebook account, refusing to enter shows...definitely not something my creative side would allow the pragmatic side to do. Was I thinking in terms of myths here? Could I hypothetically take my art off the grid without literally doing it?
Perhaps I was complicating my thinking.
Myth #1 Off the Grid means retreating from all aspects of the Art World.
And yet both Agnes Martin and Georgia O'Keefe found strength by retreating from outside influences, while the Artist Retreat has a long and valued history. So an argument could be made that there are times when the artist will benefit by retreating from daily activities, finding space to synthesize privately what she has learned, and to understand from a more deliberate and personal perspective.
Myth #2 Off the Grid means slipping into obscurity.
This was a huge myth for me - I had to really think about what I was fearing - the idea of not actively participating in "being an artist" and all that means - galleries, shows, websites, on-line networking - if there is an artistic equivalent of jumping off the bridge I was sure this was it.
But I changed the way I interpreted the idea of "obscurity" by thinking in terms of "personal expression." Moving off the grid of current popular taste could be a huge step toward strengthening the conviction in my own work. By mentally freeing myself from the temptation of comparison, I am not stepping into obscurity. I am actually reinforcing the expression of deeper ideas that resonate with viewers looking for the same insights.
Myth #3 Off the Grid means trying to become that embarrassing relative dressed in macrame and peace beads.
This seemed like another expression of fear to me. I remember when we moved from California to Oregon during the early 70's craze of "getting back to self-sufficiency." That meant subscribing to The Farmer's Almanac, buying chicks at the local Farmer's Co-Op, and herding escaped cows with your car (don't ask). So this myth seemed firmly embedded.
But stepping back from actively seeking acceptance for your artwork does not consign you to the fringe unless you step so far back you are now spending your time playing golf.
Again it is a question of re-framing the idea. Refusing to follow the trends -if only for a short period of time - gives you the freedom to explore what living deeply and creating deeply might mean to you. Maybe it's an opportunity to make space for growth and understanding, to bring insight back and apply it with fresh energy and momentum.
Do you think getting off the grid might be a useful idea? How would you take your work off the grid? As someone who is always looking for that philosophical angle, I am curious about your thoughts regarding this idea.