On Moths and purpose and creative process

Metamorphosis  is  a profound change, from one stage to the next, in the life of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the moth.

I think I am in my moth stage right now. After months as a pupa, I am emerging  from my cocoon and ready to be something more, do something more, but, instead, I am flitting around crashing into the walls.  Is this what all that hanging upside down in my lonely cocoon was for?

Welcome to the moth stage. This is the part of the creative process where the artist asks herself,  “What the hell am I doing? Where am I going with this?” “Why did I think this was a good idea, she says, pulling on hair.

Have you ever asked yourself what the hell a moth is doing? No? I ask those kind of questions.

Well they do have a purpose. It’s a biologically determined drive to accomplish an essential task.

But it’s not always obvious, especially when you have to chase one around your room at two in the morning. Poor misguided moth is just trying to fulfill  it’s destiny and achieve its purpose.

What about me?   I am pretty sure marking up a surface with this charcoal and ink and paint , is my biologically determined purpose. Focusing for hours on a  canvas with a brush in my hand.  What do I think I am doing? Who knows. It’s my purpose.

Moths aren’t supposed to be in your house. They are like butterflies–and are supposed to be outside in the natural world, pollinating various night blooming vegetation. Yet they some how manage inadvertently to end up in your closets– making meals out of your favourite cashmere sweaters. Poor moth. She’s just trying to fulfill her purpose. Moths and the nocturnal plants they feed on– like the Honeysuckle flower or the Red Valerian–can’t live without each other. Miraculous nature has provided the moth with dextrous long thin tongues– an attribute completely wasted on wool sweaters, but very important in pollinating night blooming flowers. The moth is always looking for the flowers. The flowers are always waiting for the Moth.

See what I mean about destiny?

So what in the world am I talking about?  Maybe this metaphor has lost its way. And what does it have to do with me in my studio making art?

Well, the moth stage of the creative process is when the creator, that would be me in this case–is madly searching for the flower but can not find it. I’m madly flying up at that light bulb and singeing my wings. The flower is the essence or the meaning– or the soul of the work. It ‘s the inexplicable thing that blooms in the mind of the audience It’s the truth of the work. I need to find it. It can’t bloom without me.  The Moth stage  can drive you mad and you can end up with your novel in a drawer or your paintings on a shelf.  Your art  is always looking for  its  honeysuckle, and it will only find it if you stand in front of that easel with a brush in your hand.  Don’t put your art in drawer to let it  pollinate  your socksI. Now it’s dusk and that’s when Moths get busy. Hopefully I will find the thing that is waiting to bloom in my  painting.

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