The C Word
What's the view along the path?
You're an artist. Or an art lover? Or the friend of one? Or a wanna be? Or you're reading this because your name ended up on it by mistake, but it's a good mistake, right? And you must be interested in creativity.
Creative is my middle name. I own it, that C word. My classes, my teaching mission, even my own wonky improvisational style of work owe its energy to deeply held, and early adopted beliefs about creativity. I just found out that creativity wasn't even a word until 1926!! 1926, when Alfred North Whitehead made a noun from a verb. I just learned this from Kevin Ashton's book How to Fly a Horse, a book that debunks once and for the mythology that holds that creativity is a gift to the few, the geniuses, the aha innovators who take us on great leaps into the unknown.
Nope, creativity, as I have always known (thanks to early indoctrination from my teachers Paul Baker, Kitty Baker and Jearnine Wagner) is our humanity's best and most defining characteristic. Our brains are built for creative work. Yes, some people are better at it, just as some people are better athletes and some are better musicians, but, nevertheless, all of us can be better at it and none of us start with none. So don't give me that "I'm just not creative" plea,
Creativity is a path, a journey, and like all journeys, the work produced at the end is just the icing on the cake. One destination leads to the next adventure and if you pay attention to the roadblocks, the stumbles as well as the scenery, one's life is enriched and perhaps even justified.
I'm in that midpoint of a journey right now, not so sure where it's leading me. I'm working on several pieces, each of which looks like it came from a different set of hands and eyes. I'm a bit wigged out with the baggage I'm carrying -- I do after all have a LARGE solo show due in Temple November 2016, and I want to take advantage of the expansive tall-ceiling gallery space and the generous exposure during the Christmas season of performing arts in the same art center.
But, right now, I see nothing else to do but put one foot in front of the next, explore and invent, wander a bit.
If you are in the middle, like me, here are a few suggestions. (Notice how I give myself good advice when I sit down to write this monthly epistle? -- that's the magic of the creative process.)
1. Start where you are. Don't try to go back to the beginning or race ahead to the end. Tidy up your backpack of tools and take off at the crossroads. You can always double back if need be.
2. It will never be perfect. You'll never have the right set of tools, the perfect studio, the endless time that you imagine. Use what you have. Use it ALL up.
3. Deep six the inner critic. It's easy to go ballistic on yourself when you aren't sure your direction. I turn on mindless reality TV and HGTV shows while I work in the studio because it keeps my toxic critic under the radar. You may prefer Mozart or MoTown. I need Fixer Upper.
4. Be gratefully analytic. Each night write down three things that happened that were good and why they were good. (This exercise is clinically proven to reduce depression and anxiety. Really, experimentally sound!) I use the Day One app for this these days.
5. Do something you've never done before. Don't let the past completely determine your future. Yep, we artists want to have our "style," our signature, but maybe it's time (even if just in the privacy of your studio) to try something new on the wall. Or maybe you need to take on a new tool -- hint, hint, nudge nudge, my online Art on the iPad course starts tomorrow!
6. Keep your eyes open. Feed your creative self with images, words and sounds.
P.S. This works for all fields of creative effort, not just visual arts, by the way.
International Quilt Festival
Coming up soon:
I'll be teaching at the International Quilt Festival in Houston -- Creativity courses, a lecture on how to write a newsletter, several iPad design courses and too much more to mention! See the schedule and check out my classes (numbers int he box to the right) and those taught by 200 plus other faculty members here.
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