I recently finished a commission. Several actually, but this one was a bit different. It was based on an actual place, a metal incarnation of someone’s lived experience. A different sort of challenge. A lot of artists get asked to do commissions that amount to can you make this match my couch? I get asked, can you make this match my memory?
I love this kind of work. Truly, deeply, love it.
But for me, it’s a creative challenge unmatched by any other. I was trying to put it into words the other day and settled on this:
It’s like trying to catch a butterfly.
It requires the lightest touch. Too little, and it escapes your grasp. Too much, and you crush it.
You have this in your own creative work, no? The painting you simply must walk away from at just the right time? The poem with just enough left unsaid? The photo with the full day of set up and the shutter clicked at precisely the right moment?
The dance that when performed in this space by these dancers in this moment creates an unmatched level of magic?
It’s a privilege when it all works out perfectly. The butterfly has landed on your open palm for the briefest of moments.
But it never stays for long. And once it’s gone, we’re left to create the old fashioned way, with clumsy sputterings of paint and words and steps
that hopefully someday
just might take flight
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