Chapter 7

"Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.'
Konstantin Stanislavsky


John Daido Loori lays out in detail the problems many artists have with creative blocks. And he defines some possible blocks that the artist might encounter:

-Originality: So often we want to make a statement with our work that is so unique that we trip ourselves up just with this unreachable goal. This is certainly a problem Iíve experienced in my career. And its always resolved by just doing what my heart wants to do, not my mind.

-Repetitive practice: in order to become an artist, we need to practice our craft. Over and over. Whether its in the visual arts, music or writing. As JDL says Ď Originality is born of craftsmanship, skill and diligent practiceÖí

-We might study with or be so influenced by an artist whose work we love and respect that we, sometime unconsciously copy their art. This happens over and over in school situations. You see the artwork from a popular instructorís class, and it all looks like amateur copies of their teacherís work. I happen to think this is not a bad place to begin and assume that the truly creative students will eventually find their own voice, but in the meantime learn techniques and skills necessary to free them to do so.

-Attachments to our work. We have discussed this before. It can be crippling to hang onto the product. Once a work of art is complete it should be released out into the world so we can be free to continue our creative path.

Now Iím going to add 2 more barriers that JDL doesnít mention.
-A huge barrier is our own mind. How we can sabotage our creativity, how we can convince ourselves that our work is worthless. This is a barrier that has been mentioned over and over in this forum. Iím guilty of this, although Iíve been an artist for many decades there are times still that I think of myself as a fraud.

-There is some research that suggests we donít have free will as Jundo discusses in his most recent podcast (at 12:20). If we are botanical robots what would that imply as far as barriers go? What does that mean for our creativity, our choices in making art? are there choices?

ĎSit with the barrier. Be it. Sit with the question, not its solution.
Back to JDL. He speaks of making our barriers into koans. This is something I do often with problems in my studio. I reach a point where I donít know how to proceed. I find its best to just name the issue in words and drop it into my mind and then forget about it. .. as you would a koan. eventually a solution will pop into my mind. It has never worked to try to resolve the problem head on.

He mentions our emotions as barriers. JDL uses the example of seeing the skinny dippers before photographing, what turn out to be sensuous photos of rocks. I personally donít see the problem with that, but he wanted his mind perfectly clear before shooting the images. Is that ever possible? I cannot nor do I want to deny my emotions and life experiences. I love the idea that his images reflected the sensuousness of the afternoon. And to see and capture the sensuality in rocks is a win as far as Iím concerned. What do you think?

Any thoughts on barriers, what blocks you and how do you deal with these bumps in the road?


Hello everyone and welcome to the prompt for Chapter 7.

This week's prompt : The only way through the barrier is to be the barrier.

JDL talks about getting through creative blocks by working with art koans. But what is an art koan?
As koans are so subjective, can you formulate a particular art koan that would help you?

What is the strongest feeling that you experience when you are unable to move forward creatively- it may well be the frustration caused by your inability to make progress. But what causes that paralysis in the first place? Is it fear of failing? Lack of confidence in your ability? Fear of judgement? Procrastination? All of these concepts can come into play during the creative process Ė they pull at us, hinder us. How can we work with them and convert that energy into something positive?

One of the things that often stops me from expressing myself through painting or drawing is being confronted with that naked expanse of white paper or canvas. I ask myself why this is and find that it's wrapped up in a fear of making mistakes, of wasting resources Ė it always comes back to harsh expectations and judgement of myself.

How can I become that barrier in this exercise? Where can I find the courage to make a leap of faith and make marks on my paper with confidence, before thinking sets in. If I pass through the barrier this time, will I need to do this work again, every time I'm confronted with that emptiness? What if I just jump in and make all the marks even though I'm feeling that I can't? Even writing this down has been cathartic - I already have a sense of what I might do.

Can you make/write/photograph something which expresses your barriers? If you've identified what blocks you, what hinders you, what clouds your clarity, can you take your pen or camera and lean right into it, work with it and bring something positive out of it?

This might be our hardest challenge yet. Have fun with it!


Anne and Meitou

we both sat today