Origins of Ideas
Where do great ideas come from? As an artist this is one of my daily questions. For some reason we think we have to come up with something from nothing. Perhaps this is because we think of ideas as new. But actually they are recycled.
All of our ideas come from someplace within our subconscious. They come from who we are. At some point in our lives we have thought things, felt things, and experienced things. Everything is connected. The challenge is, how to connect those dots.
When I prepare to start a new painting, that blank paper can seem daunting. When I am in my head, my thoughts also feel blank. Where to begin? What to create? I often forget that great ideas come from my heart, not my head. I know I'm on the right track when I begin to experience synchronicity.
Synchronicity in Concept
Synchronicity is a phenomenon in which which one experiences separate and seemingly unrelated events as being meaningfully intertwined. These meaningful coincidences begin to happen when we are open to receiving their guidance.
The creation of Brother Earth, Sister Sea is one of the most memorable experiences I've had with synchronicity. I have always felt drawn to dolphins in a similar way to how I felt drawn to horses. I collected dolphin art and jewelry, but I didn't really know what I was seeking to understand.
Sometimes I search for synchronicity too hard by trying to jump the gun and create an experience, instead of waiting for it to happen. Which is sort of the point. In hopes of putting myself in the path of synchronicity about dolphins, I went on a dolphin watching tour of the Puget Sound. I hoped to experience profound encounters with dolphins swimming up to the boat in recognition of our affinity, but all I experienced on that cold, overcast day was being buffeted by the wind on a bumpy ride over grey water.
Without physical events to fuel my quest, I tucked my search for dolphins into a corner of my heart. Some time later I was talking on the phone with a fan of my art, and she mentioned that the horses hidden in the waves in my painting, “Night Run” reminded her of dolphins. She said that her daughter’s two favorite animals were dolphins and horses. My inner ears perked up as my imagination made the sudden connection I had never consciously explored. Perhaps my love for dolphins was somehow connected to my love for horses.
She mentioned that the horses hidden in the waves in my painting Night Run reminded her of dolphins.
Synchronicity in Action
The next morning, I was eating breakfast with my mother at a local diner, when suddenly in the middle of our conversation an inspiration for a work of art came to me. I scribbled the vision down on my napkin. Since most of my ideas don’t come as clear pictures, I payed particular attention to this one.
The horse I chose for the composition was a beautiful Arabian stallion named Caleyndar. I had met his owner years before in another series of meaningful coincidences which revolved around my connection with famous horse photographer Robert Vavra, but that is another story. Suffice it to say that Robert's photograph of Caley that I fell in love with, was of him running in the waves. So it was no surprise I thought of him as the ideal model for this painting.
I then searched for the type of dolphin that seemed most suited to the grace of the Arabian and I found the sleek form and varied color of the Common Dolphin to be the best match. My concept of the dolphin and horse being as one suited the light and shadows. The coloring of the dolphin aligned beautifully with the curve of the horse's neck, showing me how to create that elusive concept.
Synchronicity in Hindsight
Once I had created the art, it was time to see if my concept was understood by others. Yet even before exhibiting it I received a meaningful confirmation of my creative choices. I received a letter from a woman named Lisa from Sweden, also saying that Night Run had reminded her of dolphins, and she felt compelled to tell me that while she was traveling in Saudi Arabia, she had been told that the the ancient tribe of desert nomads, the Bedouins, believe that dolphins and horses share the same spirit. She had never seen Brother Earth, Sister Sea.
She said, the ancient tribe of desert nomads, the Bedouins, believe that dolphins and horses share the same spirit.
Soon after, while exhibiting the art at a horse training clinic, I coincidentally met a horse breeder who happened to be a marine biologist who worked with dolphins. Upon seeing my painting, she said she often thought of dolphins and horses as similar species in behavior, intelligence, and social dynamics and that she used these insights in her work. She asked me why I had chosen to paint the Common Dolphin instead of the Bottlenose. I said I felt the Common Dolphin’s face and body seemed elegant and refined like the Arabian horse, and she said, “Yes, I always thought of Bottlenoses as like Quarter Horses!”
A marine biologist said she often thought of dolphins and horses as similar species in behavior, intelligence, and social dynamics
Janice, a fan of my art from Australia, is a dolphin lover who spends much of her time tracking stories about their amazing spirits. She sent me this clipping from an Australian newspaper:
Perhaps this article will be a synchronicity for you in your own life. What messages of inspiration and meaning does it conjure up? How does the union of horse and dolphin, earth and sea, and synchronicity and flow inspire you today?
From these experiences I learned that when something is in knocking on the door of your heart, trying to get out, the only way you can hear it is through paying attention to signs. They don't always appear when we try to put ourselves in their clear path. Sometimes they appear only when we follow the trail less traveled .
“At some point, the individual’s actions must become synchronized with universal forces, a synchronization that eases life’s basic loneliness. You are enmeshed in a larger purpose. You are meant to be in a certain place and fill a particular role. You are being yourself, truly and entirely for the first time
– Jonathan Young, PhD, The Quest Magazine