Pauses - Part I

Pauses - Part I

Pauses mark the inevitable gaps in between: the gathering of thoughts separating one phrase spoken from the next; huddling with strangers under an awning between jogs down a city block when the rain ceases for a few minutes; the space in between breaths.

I say inevitable because pauses always occur; at times they are within our control, other times not; at times they are brief and at others, extended. Sometimes they feel like awkward silence and at others they create moments of suspense between what has happened and what will happen next. Pauses punctuate space in varying ways such as creating a space for the eye to rest within the negative shapes of a composition. Or they break up the space of time, for instance, in between studio working sessions. The pauses between studio sessions can be the jolt that sparks an unexpected shift in the work.

It is this last example that occupies my mind recently.  It is fall and I am more than a couple of months into my eighteenth semester of teaching. My studio has largely been dormant since August. It is Saturday morning and on mornings such as this, my head tells me to go to the studio and start some work. But as I drink coffee and skim through a book, I instead feel compelled to write. Harnessing this urge is then what I do and results in what you are reading here. This pause has yielded some fruit.

I have learned that pauses are important to creativity and to artistic practice. I am learning acceptance of this.  Resentment towards pauses only breeds frustration and frustration is counterproductive.  I have been working long enough to know that creating art has seasons; there are ebbs and flows. Embracing the gaps of space in between and appreciation of the time outside the studio is something I work to actively cultivate. I say “work” because it takes conscious effort to direct my thoughts towards this acceptance and surrendering to the gaps.

I acknowledge that while consistent practice painting is highly beneficial and necessary, I also acknowledge that the gaps of time in between are equally important. Pauses in both exploration and production are vital for the continued growth and flourishing of whatever creative practice one does: be it painting, sculpture, writing, etc.

I’ll leave you with this thought and will pause yet again to shift gears (quite literally) and go out for a bike ride on this sunny and cool Saturday. Visit my blog next week for part II where I discuss the book that sparked this post. Until then, how do pauses operate fruitfully in your life?

Erin McIntoshComment