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Author Topic: Disassociation and Artistic Creation  (Read 605 times)

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Offline HrairooTopic starter

Disassociation and Artistic Creation
« on: June 15, 2020, 06:57:56 PM »
Disassociation and Artistic Creation
Accessing the Visionary Eye


I've tried to explain this to several people over the years and people look at me like I'm crazy. So, I'm going to try to explain it here and see if it doesn't ring true for other creators, just in case someone out there knows what it is I am talking about.

Growing up, I was a bit of a spacey kid, often losing myself in fantasy and daydreaming. Ride in the car for more than 5 minutes? You’d’ve lost me to some grand adventure story that I was playing out in my head. In adulthood, I check out every chance I get; doing dishes, folding clothes, mowing the lawn. Any menial task that is repetitive or takes little thought, alright, see ya! I'm off in the clouds telling myself stories. On occasion, you'll need to say my name a couple times to get me back.

This kind of mental check out is very familiar ground to me and I can turn it on and off at will. One area where this has become particularly useful, is while I am painting. I like to paint and although I can come up with artwork that is original, my comfort zone is hyper realism. I feel safe in looking at a photo and letting my focus zoom into it deeply and recreating it exactly. If it doesn't "look right," I can find the flaw quickly because that part does not match the photo.

Sometimes the paint is a struggle and I have to fight with it and it is usually when I am very aware of the painting and the image. The times when it has been the easiest to get it to do what I want, is when I have disassociated from the task. Music will be playing( it doesn't matter what; I'm trash and I like pop rock and alternative soft rock ) and I will let my mind wander to my stories, my fantasies. It's just like normal when I'm doing the dishes or driving the mower. A part of me sees the paint or the canvas but the images in my head slip like a veil in front of my face and a very big part of me is not here right now. I am internally writing a story with characters and dialogue and drama and adventure and sex.

On occasion, after hours of working like this, I will "wake up" and become aware of myself again and will look at the current progress of the painting. And I am stunned and shocked over the lost time and the sudden revelation of a painting that I don't quite remember seeing before. Part of this is being lost in fantasy but it's also partly due to how close I sit to the canvas, working on one section at a time as my eyes zoom in and focus on minute details. When I get a chance to sit back and stop seeing the colors as blocks and shapes and strokes, it looks different to me. I feel a slight alienation from the work at these moments, like, I start tracing back over my memories of the time lost, almost as if a part of me believes there is the slight chance that I fell asleep or was drugged and someone else swooped in and did the painting for me. I remember thinking about painting and making choices regarding the painting but a lot of it is made with an airy amusement, a detached watchfulness.

I do not disassociate for any other creative endeavor. Only art. When I am writing a post, there is some fantasy involved as the scene plays out in my head but I am very focused on and aware of the writing. I cannot have any distractions while writing. Not even wordless music. I also refinish certain wood pieces and furniture and during that, I can have music playing but I am very present in whatever it is I am doing. I cannot simply go onto autopilot and lose myself.

It's only the art part of my brain that can access this beautiful freedom from the self, where I can get out of my own way. In school and occasionally during work when I used to have a desk job, I could access a part of this. Where there is something in front of me, usually someone I have to listen to and pay attention to, like a lecture or a client, and my hand will doodle. Whatever I am half-focused on becomes background noise but it is crucial that I am on some level listening and attentive. And on the page, usually using a ballpoint pen, I doodle cartoon characters and busty cheesecake ladies. Depending upon the balance between being distracted by someone in front of me and paying attention to the drawing, the artwork will be successful or not.

I call this disassociation but really, it's like some form of daydreaming wherein I can access the ability to paint or draw at the same time. I am not sure if it is the nature of the artwork, being a painted copy of a photographed subject, so, it doesn't require occupation of my creative mind. I am not sure if this is something only I do or if other creators also access this space of autopilot and fantasy. I just wanted to attempt yet again to get this subject down and describe it.

**all artwork linked here was created by me.

Offline Wistful Dream

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Re: Disassociation and Artistic Creation
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2020, 08:07:58 PM »
I absolutely love seeing some of your talented work, and the question you pose is fascinating. I'm not sure that I get to the point of total zen like you describe when I'm painting, I might for a few short periods of time, or if I am just playing with color and have no goal in mind. When I am focused on an end goal though I often end up having the clarity of focus for twenty to thirty minutes before stepping back and half the time hating where a piece is. I think that might have to do with my perfectionist streak though, which I am working on. The nearest I get to what you describe comes to me when I'm coloring - I typically choose intricate things, like mandalas or art nouveau style work, and then just sink into using whatever chosen medium and bringing color to life.

Which I suppose now might be similar to how you aim for realism. When I'm painting typically I'm not copying a photo, I'm making something up as I go, I might borrow from reference but it's more than that. Coloring though is simply letting myself move through the piece, feeling out what needs to be applied. I love it, and it might be why I have a hope to one day own the largest Prisma-color set.

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Re: Disassociation and Artistic Creation
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2020, 05:02:57 PM »
That mural is rocking!  Sorry you won't see this for a bit, as I see you're on Hiatus, but when you get back...I love it!

I'm also glad you raise this entire topic.  A musician and composer (and frustrated visual artist :D) myself, I experience some of the same things, though my dissociation is more widespread, and, alas, doesn't usually seem to assist in any artistic endeavor- which raises the question of which event is the 'symptom', creativity or dissociation.

I know often that word is used to describe what was once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and now seems most often to be titled Dissociative Identity Disorder.

I don't have any alts that I'm aware of- other than the hundreds I create in my writing and role-playing.  But I lose time and focus on the real world. I have deja vu frequently enough I often question my location in space.  I've made 1/2-hour-long drives with little awareness of them other than departure and arrival. And I find that when listening to music- as opposed to playing it (where one can often find 'the zone', a specific form of enhanced-performance near-dissociation) or writing it- I can often drop off entirely. I'm aware of what I'm listening to, but nothing else, really.

It's often said, a  little facilely, I think, that creativity is closely linked to various degrees of mental illness, or at the very least altered function. Certainly Picasso didn't see the world as most of the rest of us do. It's good to hear someone else speak of their experiences.