This morning a new friend and I were talking about our belief that engaging in art is important and necessary for personal development. This led us to the art forms that we initially chose to start us on this road. For her, it's calligraphy; for me, book arts. Each of us admitted that much of our lives have been governed by left-brain activity. I wondered whether that wasn't what first drew me to bookmaking. The craft of making books was, in fact, what attracted me first: My interest in artists' books -- my knowledge of artists' books, frankly) -- and in creating content, came later. Making forms is, in effect, a left-brain activity. It has specific rules -- and at least until you start creating forms that ARE content in themselves -- fairly standardized approaches. It's as you move from creating a standard structure to making artistic decisions, starting simply with choosing papers for blank books, then moving to content as a starting place and then weaving together content and form, that the right brain kicks into gear. So it seems I took my artistic plunge in a relative safe pond.
Which is not to say that I didn't fall passionately in love with book arts; just that, as my new friend said, interests tend to pick us, not us them. And if starting "safely" helps us transition to the less "safe" (the more right-brained), all the better.
I realize, I told her, that my way of "doing art" in the past has consisted of reading all I could about it, then doing nothing. So very very left-brain, no? She responded by telling me about Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun, who says --and I'm paraphrasing wildly-- that we should use the time spent reading about meditation, meditating instead. Sound advice.