Creative Lessons

Over the past month, I feel like I’ve learned a whole lot about my own creativity. Probably because for the first time, I’ve been paying attention to how I’m creative.

Lesson #1

If I only do art that I’m supposed to be doing and don’t experiment or play at all, I’m going to be one really cranky girly by the end of the day.

The other day, I worked only on a commissioned piece. That’s it. I took a 15 minute break, checked in interally, and discovered my inner artist throwing a full on temper tantrum. At first, I was confused – we painted didn’t we? We made time for art. Shouldn’t you be happy?

But then it hit me that I had made time for art for other people. But not for myself. Did we play with the inks like she wanted? Did we experiment with the oils? Did we doodle and sketch and scribble and play? Nope. We were very business like and we got a lot done. But did we enjoy it? That’s a tricky question. I didn’t hate it. I enjoy custom work. But did I also work on it to the exclusion of my own needs? Yep. And that’s what made me cranky.

Lesson: Schedule at least 45 minutes of “Just for me” art before diving into bigger projects. It doesn’t matter what I end up doing – it’s the intention and spirit behind it that’s important.

Lesson #2

If I’m not in the studio by 2pm, I’m practically having a nervous breakdown. I’m so antsy, I’d make ants look calm.

Noticed this yesterday, after somehow my morning completely disappeared under the weight of a website redesign, email and blogging. Next thing I knew, it was 1pm and I needed to get away from the computer. I decided to get a shower, do some yoga, eat some lunch.

Next thing I knew, it was 2:30pm, and I was half going up the wall I was so desperate to get in the studio. Part of this is my relationship to time and just how crappy that is, but the other half? My artist feeling ignored and ready to do something about it. Ever seen a toddler gearing up to have a screaming fit? Yeah, that’s my artist when she thinks I’m going to make no time for her.

I still ended up spending 3-4 hours in the studio, but it was a close one.

Lesson: Must be off the computer by noon. Must have the afternoon to moodle and create. Otherwise, my artist puts her crankypants on.

Lesson #3

If I stop experimenting, I stop creating. The end.

I stopped experimenting and making art just for me for over a year. Art became this painful, awful process, somewhat akin to hacking your own leg off with a spoon – long, drawn out, and probably close to impossible.

And I knew that you were supposed to give yourself time to play and experiment but I never really took it seriously. “Real” artist don’t play (yes, I am eating my own words now, thanks for asking). I’m learning to try different mediums, try different styles and papers and colours, or maybe no colour at all. It’s brought the joy back into my art. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Lesson: You’re never too old to play. You’re never too professional to play. You’re never too smart to play. So play. It’s important.

Lesson #4

Listen to myself. Do it for me. Follow my instincts. Follow my love.

At the end of the day, I make my art for me, or rather, for my own purposes – to share with people. I don’t do it to be hip, to be cool, to be marketable, to fit in a genre. I am not edgy. I am not intellectual. I don’t have that many interesting ideas. I’m pretty much just interested in emotions, soul stirring and the intangibles of this crazy thing called life. One could even call me maudlin.

But am I happy being that? You betcha. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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