13. The Cottonwool Moth

Dear Sade,

People often say to me: "To be a full-time artist you must be an incredibly disciplined person." I reply: "No, not incredibly disciplined, just incredibly fulfilled." If you paint because you feel disciplined to do so, then you have a problem as you will be motivated by fear instead of faith.

When you paint to the Iron Rule of Discipline you invite a thing into your Art Walk that I call the 'Cottonwool Moth'. This ugly little apparition will send you up the proverbial creek without a paddle. It specialises in stunting your art by blocking your creative inlet system with its fibres. It will put iron in your brush handle and mud in your colours and if you let it settle in your may as well go out and buy yourself a Paint-by-Numbers set.

Sade, art does not respond well to discipline, in fact it will not flourish in 'disciplined' soil. Art thrives on spontaneity, freedom, illumination, pie-in-the-sky, originality, inventiveness, boldness, romanticism, life, passion, imagery, dreams, love, moonbeams, fertility, castles-in-the-sand, fantasy, myths, fun, chaos and inspiration... and this is just for starters!

When I was in the advertising business we had what were called 'Brainstorming Sessions' to assist us to collectively formulate creative campaigns. Out of these informal, no holds barred, fun sessions came some great, and often hilarious, ideas that gave birth to winning creative promotions. I sincerely believe that these ideas would not have seen the light of day in a serious, stiff-necked, formal and disciplined atrmosphere.

Sade, experience will show you that there is a vast difference between 'producing' and 'creating' art, When you paint to the disciplined 'Whirr-Whirr' of the Cottonwool Moth you will produce art, but believe me it will be lousy art. How do I know this? I've been there.

Love Gramps
March 1999