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Art, like love, cannot be forced 31 May 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Art, Happiness, Life, Philosophy.
Tags: , ,

In the name of Phil Collins;

You can’t hurry love.

And I have come to realise that the same goes for art. I love art, and I often feel inspired to make something, create something. I have been a prolific drawer since I was a child, and I have taken drawing classes since the age of 7. My mum once told me that I used to sing, hum and whistle when happy, and I never used to sing more than while sitting quietly, drawing.

But since I have arrived in Vietnam, the will and the inspiration is just not there. For the past two years, my sum output has been two (average looking) paintings and maybe a handful of sketches. I have tried many a time to sit down with a canvas, but all I see is white. Nothing to create, nothing to paint. No possibilities.

It is a horrific feeling. I can imagine it is like writer’s block, when the muse is not there, you just feel empty.

Initially, I thought it was because there is so much art here everywhere – most of it cheap and nasty, some of it amazingly inventive, but soon to be copied by everyone. I thought I might feel like I couldn’t live up to it, that my surroundings were so prolific that it drowned out my little voice inside.

But being back in Australia, even just for a week and a half around Christmas, made me literally itch to draw, and I kicked myself for not bringing a sketch book. It had been so long since inspiration had struck, that it hadn’t even occurred to me that it might be something i would need! The moment I was back in Vietnam, though, all that inspiration vanished.

Soul searching last week on why I have been sick more often here in Vietnam than I ever used to be, I think I am starting to understand. I think my physical and mental health (the latter of which is contributing to me feeling uninspired) is intrinsically linked to this one pivot:

In my life in Vietnam, there is never a moment of serenity.

Have a think about that for one second.

There is constant noise. There are constant crowds.

There is constant self-awareness, about being different in so many ways. People always stare, and tell me I am fat and tall.

There is always something happening, people to see, parties to go to.

There is constant effort in trying to understand the language.

As exciting as Vietnam is, and as much as I love it, and as much fun as I am having here, I don’t think I am ever at peace here. I find myself having more road rage here than I have ever had in my life. The constant navigation (physically, mentally, culturally) is making me a very un-zen person. I try so hard to always smile and be understanding and culturally aware, politically correct. I try to do well at my job, and I like to please everyone.

But the closest I have been to being at peace was on the motorbike trip I did in the mountains last year, where there were large, open spaces, and the population was (relatively) sparse. Even with a urinary tract infection.

I think I will have to start making some serious changes to my down time, find a way to relax better to keep myself sane. First, I will need to stay away from the television more. Perhaps I need to improve my personal relationships, spending more time one on one with people I enjoy spending time with. Perhaps I need to find the right music to listen to. Second, I need to stop fretting so much. Or rather, being a natural worrier, I may have to find a way to block out my inner chatter.

And third, I need to rediscover a way to see the wonder in it all – like this blogger has. Maybe I need to head out with the camera, and see it all with new eyes. And perhaps then I will again find my muse to draw and paint and create. I certainly hope so.


1. allfinehere10 - 31 May 2010

Yes, stop fretting – you’re doing wonderfully! Hanoi is richer for having you here! And, despite the road rage, you’ll find (I’m sure) that you’ll be the richer for having been here. Make time for your artistic self – and don’t try to please everyone else. Just please yourself!

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