Art as Magic- Musings on art & crreativity
Musings on Art & Creativity... Some thoughts, random and otherwise, on art making and the creative process and the importance of filling our intuitive wells and the cyclic nature of the creative process.
The Conversation that is You
There is no doubt that I am a particular intersection of circumstances, experiences, culturally inherited values, personal aesthetics, and so on which all meet in me and me alone. No one else ever has lived my journey, coming from my background and has my particular way of engaging with that particular journey at this particular time in all of history. All of that makes me unique just as you are. So my unique voice arises from this particular intersection of so many things which make me me. If my work comes from engagement with that intersection, from a dialogue with my life then it follows that it hasn’t all been said and done before, that my particular conversation is unique, as is yours.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique... It is not your business to determine how good it is; not how valuable it is; not how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”- Martha Graham
Love what you love- Follow your own curiosity
Begin in Wonder- Socrates
When you follow the threads of your own curiosity, that is instead of the threads of the prescribed canon, you are honing in on what is going to speak the most to you and nourish your own conversation with life. There is both an energy and a truth in that which will shine through what is produced as a result.
Learning from the Masters
“The Artist always has the masters in his eyes.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Discerning Eye vs Critical Eye
“No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Martha Grahamn
Excellence vs Perfection. Perfection is arrogant, it assumes that you know how a thing should be, that you know the destination, it dismisses journey/process and transformation. Excellence allows us to give our whole heart to something, our best in that moment. It asks us to show up fully. Not too mention perfection is an impossibility- we are all perfectly imperfect and as a result imperfectly perfect as we are.
Are you asking yourself about what’s not working?
What would it be like if instead you focused on what was working? What if you followed that thread? What if you went deeper with that and explored where that could take you?
By all means examine what’s not working, look at it, remedy it if you can- paint over it, use it in some way to take you somewhere else, see it as an opportunity for a new creative solution. Just don’t let it become the focus much less the barrier.
Flow vs Critiquing- The creative the flow, otherwise known as being in the zone, dancing with the muses, channeling or whatever it is you wish to call it, is that creative space when it all comes together and the work seems to just pour out of you outside of time and without forcing- you can feel In*Spiration at play and all that is inhabiting your intuitive well just bubbles up magically. When we are in this state the frontal cortex of our brain, that part of our brain which controls rational thinking and critiquing, has loosened its grip and is operating at a diminished capacity. While critiquing might be a useful step in the process, it has no place in the actual production of work. In fact, this part of the brain needs to be inactive in order for us to reach that ever so desirable to state- flow.
A word or two on failure:
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” - C.S. Lewis
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” - Stephen McCranie
"If you don’t fail it’s because you did not risk enough, and if you didn’t risk enough it’s because you didn’t put your whole self out there." - Carlos Barrabes
'Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’-Pablo Picasso
The cyclic nature of creativityWhile the muses may like to find you at work when they come to sprinkle their magic upon you don’t underestimate the amount of work you are doing when it seems you are doing none. The creative process moves in cycles, just as all living things do. For me the cycles include:
"I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room."- May Sarton