For me there is always an element of excitement, a sweet kernel of possibility in a dark day. The fact that rain cheers me like almost nothing else is rooted in a time when, growing up in Southern California, there was no such thing as a snow day. With even a sprinkle on the horizon, however, we were treated to “rainy day session” and dismissed early to confound our mother’s schedules and make us feel uniquely privileged. Rain, on what was essentially an irrigated desert landscape, was my ally, my infrequent friend, something to give variety to a long stretch of sunny days and to draw me into myself and those places in my mind where imagination churned. Rain on our tile roof lulled me to sleep and cushioned my dreams.
We all have associations that stimulate our creative lives, and they are added to over time. The smell of oil paint and the sight of new brushes anchor me; I have a visceral reaction to the beauty of rock formations; I sometimes come home from a long walk with a fully formed poem prompted not only by the wonders of nature but also by an increase of oxygen to the brain.
Though I have long been aware of these prompts, how I respond to them at this time of my life is more considered and less spontaneous. For a while I tried to scale down my visual art so that it would be easier to frame and handle. After some stabs at that, however, I have returned to a larger format that feels more natural to me. If I work on one piece at a time instead of indulging my former habit of having a number of paintings in process at once, it now seems doable. In my literary life, I thought short stories might be the way to go. There, too, I have found that the longer form of the novel is still more appealing.
When I ask my interviewees the question “Are your energy and creativity linked?” I am really looking for an answer for myself. Can I be as creative on the limited scale that my present energy and space allow? Can the work be as fulfilling and the product as exciting. It will be different for each one of us, it may change from day to day, but solving these challenges is now part of the process.