“Painting is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess
This doctor gives great advice! Why do some of us ( Um, me ) have a tendency to shrink ourselves for the sake of being concerned what others will think ? I love it when I meet people that have moved on from the opinions of “others,” they are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to be around.
“What do I want to express? The subject means little. The arrangement, the design, colour, shape, depth, light, space, mood, movement, balance, not one or all of these fits the bill. There is something additional, a breath that draws you into its breathing, a heartbeat that pounds on yours, a recognition of the oneness of all things.” – Emily Carr
It’s the unknowable knowing, that “something” that speaks to us with a volition of its own and completes the dialogue between muse and recipient. Emily’s words capture this eloquently.
“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Just do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
The work is important in that it isn’t “Important.” It’s all in the doing. Watch a toddler with paper and paint. She creates like it’s the most natural thing to do, and isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is and of course it doesn’t matter how it “Looks.” A toddler doesn’t care, she is absorbed in the moment, and as adults looking on we don’t care either. It’s beautiful, whatever it is they’ve made, it’s genius. Let’s be that!
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’keeffe is one of my favourite artists. And I also admire her character, she was so much her own person. And I love this quote for its forthright grounding in reality. Drop the pretence, the striving, and contortions to grab the proverbial gold ring, it’s only a mirage. Simply make your unknown known. Then take a long solitary walk in the foot hills of Taos. (ah, if only)
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso
So much depends on just showing up to the canvas, the page, the wheel. Picking up the instrument. Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has a great quote by the playwright Somerset Maugham that nails it.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Even if it means sitting and staring at the canvas, the page, etc, for an hour and a half, you show up. This is such an important key to tapping into the creative process, not to wait for inspiration or the right “mood,” but to show up, ready and open. Even it’s to stare into space for an hour, I’m here and ready. And If I become tired of staring then I start, make some move, to engage, and even if it’s crap, something may very well come out of it. If not, that’s ok, tomorrow I’ll be back at the “desk”. Same time same place.
“To be a creator is to invite others to load their slingshots with rocks of disparagement and try to shoot you down,”
Grant Faulkner from his article, Overcoming Creative Wounds
Everyone’s got an opinion. We are hard wired for critical thinking, judging, assessing. It’s part of our survival mechanism, part of our Fight or Flight response. Reactions and judgements to something new or different that saved our skin, prehistoric and modern. Will this hurt me? Can I use/eat this? What the hell is that!? But in some cases it’s just jealously. Some don’t want to see you do something innovative or unique- because they didn’t think of it first!
Of course the antidote is to push through, deflecting the slings and arrows and to carry on. Easier said than done though ~
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
I think this is one of my favourite quotes, and what I struggle with constantly. Being self- conscious, over-thinking, when I really want abandon. Abandon at the canvas, abandon at the page, abandon in singing. I recognize when I’m hesitating, when self consciousness tightens its strangle hold. And I recognize the antidote: To act! No matter the outcome! Have the courage to suck, and suck some more! Dare to be lousy!
But then I get self conscious. Sigh.
“Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh
Those lightening bolts of inspiration, the creative energy that can burst out like a broken water main to land on a page, or a canvas, or an instrument has had its long formation from a series of tiny elements of thoughts, and experience and observations collected; steeped and layered over a time.
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
This Monday prompt is a quote from Erich Fromm, a social psychologist, a psychoanalyst and philosopher.
Why do I feel apprehensive when faced with a blank page in a sketchbook, or a blank canvas, but have no such apprehension when facing a blank page waiting to be written on?
Not letting go and to allow myself to make a mark on a fresh surface feels different than writing. I can write with abandon, but the other I hesitate. Do I worry that I’ll waste material? There’s an issue right there- the word worry. Not conducive to creative endeavours.
In writing on a laptop I can delete and begin again without concern about the paper I’d be going through. But paint, canvas, brushes and good drawing paper is expensive. Can I be exploratory and playful with the medium; can I justify the cost when I can’t be certain anything will come of the work? So I become tentative.