Get Comfortable with Chaos

Some time ago, we experienced water damage and our wood floor had to be sanded down and re-stained as a result. All of the furniture had to be moved out of the room. The contents of the pantry, closet and some cabinets had to be emptied. To avoid potential toxic fumes, we had to stay elsewhere for the duration of the work.

When the work was completed, We returned to beautiful new floors and utter chaos.

My schedule kept me from being able to get everything back in order for several days, which for a person who loves order, is absolutely crazy-making. I was challenged to take care of my professional responsibilities while working anxiously amid the chaos. I find it exceedingly challenging to create art when my environment is topsy-turvy. Most of the artists I work with cite needing to do things around the house as the number one detriment to creating art. It is important to "sit" with the chaos without self-criticism and then push past it in order to grow and continue to create as an artist.

This paralyzing experience can happen in the midst of creating art, too. In the process of painting, for example, we reach the point where it all looks like a big mess.

Action: In your practice today, make peace with chaos. Instead of waiting to do your art until all the details of life are in order, make your art now. Instead of abandoning a work when it slips into chaos, work with the chaos until you break through to find order. Or, alternatively, make a chaotic work of art on purpose!

Full Fathom Five. Jackson Pollock. 1947. Oil on Canvas. 50-7/8" x 30-1/8". Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Whether you like the work of Pollock or not, there is an uncanny order to the chaos in his painting.

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