Resetting to Play…

So the task I have set myself, for it is indeed a task, is to play.

I know of the value of play. I can even give you theories if that is what you need to back up the reasons, the seriousness of the matter. For four decades or thereabouts, I have played with children, learned about children, taught other people about children and creativity and play…I can quote you all the famous ones: Piaget’s symbols, schemata and process; Montessori’s play being the work of the child; Erikson’s mastery; Vygostsky’s zones of proximal development; Froebel’s nature table and free expression… all trying to make sense of the world through the eyes of the child, and also, one might argue, the eyes of the artist.

After the Arts Council project, ending in the performance, exhibition, publication, recordings… all showing a level of mastery, I now find myself yet again, floundering around looking for the zone of proximal development. So I instruct myself to play, allow myself to play. INSIST I play!

At the moment it is frustrating to say the least. It appears I am no longer able to draw or sing. I need to find the place that is the point of balance… I need to have in my sights that which I was successful at, while simultaneously pushing ahead with something new. I need the confidence lent to me by previous success, while I also need the challenges of the new, to enable me to move forward and learn more. But that’s a very linear way of looking at things, and we all know that creative thinking doesn’t happen that way. I must trust the process that I’ve done before.

So today I play. I chop up old drawings, chuck a bit of ink around. I try some new materials: bamboo paper, walnut ink, masking fluid… and I sigh at the sight of it all. I’m not sure how long this period will last (if only I had a useful chart courtesy of one of those theorists). But I must let it happen and not worry about it too much. It’s a serious business, play. 

It is, and yet it’s not. I have to let go of all the theory, let go of the seriousness, just let it happen. I should not be worried about judging the quality of what I make. Indeed, maybe I should destroy all I make for a little while, so I actually DON’T take myself too seriously. 

Dammit woman, just relax a bit.

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