About tension and balance
A blind canvas is a neutral space that holds endless tension.
This is the space where endless possibilities are allowed. The dawn that holds the new day. And as soon as an object is placed here, a pole is created. Life is created on earth. A force field. A gravity.
The balance is broken.
Now, every single new object that enters the force field will either be pulled towards a pole—if its own gravity is weaker than the former—or creates a new pole stronger—if its gravity is stronger instead. (In the former case, the object obeys the dominant trend within the field, and in the latter, it creates a new trend that overpowers the existing forces.)
A tension is created.
This push and pull between objects continue until a state of balance is achieved, which is an extremely rare state that is present for no longer than a brief moment in time. This state is somehow similar to a stationary moment, or maybe a snapshot in time. I would even argue that balance is never something we can achieve, but rather only aspire to. It’s such an ultimate idea that this intention itself it is often the sole hint of a balance. The duality of Yin and Yang, which is an ideal equilibrium within the micro- and macrocosms is omnipresent and flowing towards its alteration. As life is always moving, the composition is always evolving, balance is always broken to be recreated over and over again.
So the perception of balance as a moment of inertia might be a paradox.
However, this also means that we can only speak of balance in presence of, not necessarily two, but definitely multiple objects (or elements or things or flavours or sounds or colours or movements or any other artistic ingredient). So balance is a relationship. The astrological sign Libra, which has the scales as its symbol, rules relationships. In particular, it rules relationships of one-to-one, where a precise fairness has to be maintained by a constant equal give and take.
Hence balance is a constant equal give and takes, the flirt between the female and male.
It’s a peaceful tension, where you feel at ease. The more tension there is, the closer we are to quietude. Or Balance. Like the moment before a rubber band snaps. Or tip of a rollercoaster. Or orgasm.
Aesthetically, balance can create immense pleasure to senses and that’s why we’re drawn towards it as creators.
A balanced face is a beautiful symmetrical face, which every feature is counterpoised by an opposite one; where your eyes can rest as long as they want to. It feels like the artist’s job is done. To the outside gaze, it can look perplexing to analyse the meticulous calculations that were put into the construction of the piece. Because there is not a single extra grain that tips the scale. A perfect nothing. The lack of tension. It is perfectly decluttered. Not in the sense that it is minimalistic. Not necessarily. But rather, it’s crystal clear that every single element in the composition exists to fulfil a noble purpose in the exactly right place. Like the way, God created each of us with a special purpose that no-one else but us can fulfil that in the whole contributes to a complex system. It’s without a doubt impossible to substitute any single object with another.
Nothing is redundant, or arbitrary.
I love Hemingway’s quote “Write drunk, edit sober”. It may take courage to start the creative process, so losing your head over it might certainly help. But equally, it takes a sharp mind, a steady hand and a strong will to refine the outcome and to take things out. And the latter is what makes the work great. Getting rid of the unnecessary and stripping the work down is what makes mastery. And in my own experience, and according to others like Hemingway, this is the hardest part. Artists ultimately manifest a human nature, which more often than not holds onto overstatement.
I have a personal story about this.
I recently went to a shaman, because, like everyone, I have issues that I can’t solve with a sharp mind, a steady hand and a strong will. I show addictive behaviour and am drawn to extremes. I’ve been looking for a long time to find my state of balance. This shaman told me that my soul wasn’t willing to let go of the soul of a long passed loved one, even though he wanted to let me go already. She said that our souls finally separated peacefully through her guidance and that when two souls do separate, they always do so with love. I was so so so mad to hear this. Like, so mad. I could not believe that I was being dumped on the soul level. I was just so so so mad. I clearly wasn’t willing to let go of the past and or to be in balance whatsoever. And then I was so so so sad. After the experience, I cried for days, which felt like a fresh grief. But in an ironic way, this started a healing in me.
Finding balance can be dramatic.
You might have to be very brave to let of things, that you know bring you (or your work) harm. It’s quite heartbreaking to “killing your darlings.” It might feel like cutting your own limb off. But in fact, the more you dare to lose things, the more you (or your work) get stronger.
So indeed, balance can only be achieved by letting go, in that as an artist, we tip the scale by creating anything in the first place.
This post was inspired by the Notebook for Creatives | BALANCE, in our shop. On its back cover balance is described as "an equilibrium, an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, that allows nothing to be taken away"