While much of the population is dealing with a world of social isolation and surreality, I go about the days much as usual. As an artist, write and now, composer, I really spend most hours alone, usually with my faithful Great Dane Montague. None of what I do is teamwork, although I have always enjoyed tasks and projects that require that. Every day’s challenge is to extract from the wide range of inspiration that I live in, none of which is boxed or prioritized, and distill that into “art.”
Sometimes it would seem that art is human invention. I have never known that, nor believed that is the case. There is no earthly way I can tell you how my hands and fingers move over the keyboard to play unique pieces each day. Some days there is an eastern European folk element, other days Celtic resonances, or “western” equestrian strains, and sometimes pure vaudeville burlesque rhythms. Same with the painting. There’s an exciting substrate just waiting…for what? There may be an idea lurking in a remote area of my consciousness, but it is unborn and seems to have no existence whatever. Yet, when I start working, in a sometimes almost terrifying focus and frenzy, it is as if everything was there before I started. Accidents are rare, and if something even mildly catastrophic occurs, it always leads to discovery and greater accomplishment.
Because this flow of inspiration goes on 24/7, I seem to need a great deal of “space” to think and listen. Even in the car, I rarely listen to music, because I need the quiet. The vintage Rolls-Royces engines were music enough for me, and there are so many things to think about! And it does take intense concentration to defensively drive today on roads of up to five lanes.
But back to being “shuttered.” Sometimes I feel I live an almost monastic life, but of course I have the delightful company of the family. We are all quite independent, so home is like a harbor where we regard each other from our individual anchorages. It is a house that never “sleeps” and everyone eats at different times. And yet we stay within the confines of the house and garden, the immediate neighborhood in an “Emerald Forest” in Florida and the Schoodic Peninsula in Maine. So in a sense, we live both sheltered and shuttered lives. But our prayers and healing thoughts encircle the globe, unknown, but hopefully felt. I started using a phrase, “We are all in this together,” two or more years ago. Now it is bandied about universally, and that is a good thing. We all need a safe and protected harbor, though, and there is infinite gratitude for that!
Peter Stilton Tampa April 7, 2020