If you have been following my Instagram, then you have probably noticed that I have recently begun working on a new digital painting. I have given the piece the working title Red Haired Bear because it was inspired by a character named Red Haired Bear in a book written by a Cheyenne warrior named Wooden Leg, whom the book is named after. I have not read the book, but I listened to episode #45 of Jocko Podcast in which he read large portions of the the book. One part featuring Wooden Leg’s interaction with the character Red Haired Bear.
During the reading, the concept of ”Medicine” as the Cheyenne interpreted the word stuck with me. As spirit or spiritual fortitude or Will. Red Haired Bear was a medicine man, my sense was that a more appropriate term for our understanding today would be a priest or preacher, and his role was prominent in the Cheyanne society. He was responsible, along with his daily pharmaceutical and healing duties, for guiding young men through rites of passage that led them to spiritual enlightenment in the most profound sense.
I am not going to get into the rites described in the book during the podcast so go listen here or read the book. I want to talk about inspiration. The why behind inspiration. Why did I feel an immediate and necessary urge to create a visible representation of the character Red Haired Bear? Well, first, the name Red Haired Bear conjured the image of a vivid and unique animal that I wanted to see. Second, the character was a medicine man associated with mysticism and sacred knowledge and all that stuff is just supremely interesting to me.
I had been looking for a catalyst to get me moving back toward a more pure, artist version of myself. With this new revival of energy and passion I am becoming prolific. I am born or reborn as the case may be. There is no longer a doubt in my mind.
I used to try to convince people that talent had nothing to do with artistic ability. So-called “non-creative” people would claim that I had some innate gift to manifest my thoughts into visual art. I would tell them how, when I was a child as young as 3 years old, my mother would ask me to sit and make still life drawings of my toys. I would tell them how I was exposed to my painter grandmother’s work my whole life. And how my father studied art as his minor in college and that I remembered viewing his portfolio when I was young. I would explain that talent is a myth and that circumstances and hard decisions had led me to where I am now. I do not believe that so fervently now. The idea of a "calling in life" has become understandable.
Now, I make my living as a creative professional. Graphic Design specifically. Tonight I was working on Red Haired Bear and found my self wanting to do nothing else. I had forgotten the purity and energy of authentic creation. Not something to sell or the product of professional creative services, but a true attempt at extracting meaning from the ether and giving it form. It may sound like some hippie bullshit to those that do not have access to the process, but I assure you, for myself as an artist, all else is Sin.
I am not sure if "Sin" it is the right word for my meaning. Denying a duty that feels like it was assigned by the divine is what I mean. What is it when I take pause, sit back from my work to view what has come into being and feel that I have done good? I call it awesome.