Thursday, May 10, 2012

Creativity - Some Thoughts

The weird thing about creativity? It really is like a muscle. It can atrophy from disuse, it can be strengthened, and sometimes a little cross-training or even a break can be good for its development. For many more years than I care to admit, I completely abandoned the fine or visual arts. I didn't make any art of my own, visited no galleries or museums, read no articles. I gave away my large and treasured collection of art history books. That one hurts the most to say.

I can't even explain why I did it, exactly, but I think I had a broken heart. In the all-or-nothing mindset typical of a fairly dramatic 20-something, I hit a particularly high wall of resistance and, tired of choosing between gas and groceries on my museum employee's salary, I quit. I left my beloved MFA,H and my hometown, and got a job at an oil company in Dallas. I sold out. To the suits. I couldn't cut it on my own and I had too much pride to try and find the middle ground. Sigh.

Water under the bridge and all that. Before long I met and married a wonderful, artistic, gainfully employed man and have been busy raising kids with him ever since. But I never went back to art. I felt I had failed. I did other creative things, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, of course. I have a very wise sister who says I was "exploring other media." But not paint, canvas, paper. When my husband would beg me to make art again, I would tell him it would be an obstacle to having food, clean dishes and laundry on a regular basis. (It has been, by the way.) But the truth is, I was scared. What if there was nothing there anymore. What if there was a whole lot of stuff in my heart and head and stirring it up would be more than I could handle? But all the while I was making excuses, I was painting in my mind. What colors would I mix to make that? What shape mark would show the form of that object? Remember how awesome it is to walk into an art supply store? To buy a canvas? To paint?

Then a little over a year ago I reconnected with an old friend and he asked me if I still painted. Ouch. It was not fun to hear myself say no. I can't explain why, but that conversation was the one that brought me to my senses and away from my excuses. I started to make art again and haven't slowed down yet. And I've been amazed by the speed of the learning curve! I'll never be finished learning and growing, but I have truly loved making nearly everything I've made over the past 12 months or so, primarily because I quit beating myself up for perceived failure and just did something. Some of the books and resources that have helped me in this journey are Twyla Tharp's "The Creative Habit," Margaret Peot's "Successful Artist's Career Guide", etc,  and Rice Freeman-Zachery's "Creative Time and Space."

I guess the bottom line is, don't assume you aren't creative or that you used to be but it's gone or worst of all that you don't have anything to add. Or that it isn't a necessary piece of the life puzzle. It is. Even if you only do it for yourself.

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