After a few days distracted by a not-so-common cold and travel, I am back Dear Reader, to write about Creative Energy. I am currently working through the following book by Danielle Krysa, who also writes The Jealous Curator a real gem of a blog, let me tell you.
This book interviews some of her favorite ‘successful’ artists – whatever that means, I mean we all know what that means, but really, what does that mean, know what I mean!? Anyway, I digress. At the end of most interviews, there are activities to jog your creativity and help unblock you. These are activities we’ve all done before – creating work, cutting it up and recreating it sort of things – but they are good activities and it can be good to be reminded of these ways to get out of your own narrow box. This is a thoughtful book. It’s beautiful, fun to work through, I really like it. As I do some of these activities I may occasionally post them here.
I’m not however, reading this book because I am particularly ‘blocked’, more that it’s interesting to me to tap into other artists’ experiences with their processes – what this book focuses on – and because I thought it might be a way to rev up my creative energy now that it’s starting to return.
A few words about my experience with creative energy:
In my normal state, my process is abundant with creativity and ideas for individual works or series. In the past I’ve often kept a moleskin handy with me whatever I am doing/wherever I am so that I can jot down ideas that come to me when I’m, you know, grocery shopping or in the bathtub or something – because that’s almost always when the ideas come, when you’re doing mundane and everyday tasks.
After the birth of my first child I was so overwhelmed by the amount of energy it took to be the type of parent I wanted to be, I had no creative energy for about 18 months (1.5 years) – then it came back like a flood and I was having a million ideas, creating a multitude of things, like this mural:
That mural was so fun to design and create!
This time around it only took nine months after my son’s birth before I started to have that itching to create. The problem this time has been finding the time to create. Or having the energy to create during the short snippets of time I find that I have – early in the morning, late at night, during a nap time, or when my spouse or a babysitter are #occupying the kids.
The positive side of that triage of time, is that in some ways I am learning to focus and triage my process. No longer do I indulge in the before art making rituals of brewing coffee, laying out supplies/materials just so, doing a few stretches “to get the blood going”, staring at the blank canvas or page or screen.
Not to say, there aren’t still aspects of my process that take their long and leisurely time. Thinking about an idea or concept, turning it around in my mind, creating some sketches or exploratory images and then turning those around in my mind until the right particle sifts out – and I know where I’m going. Now this mulling usually happens during mundane sessions of rocking to sleep, nursing, cooking macaroni and cheese and yes even changing diapers. Once I know where I’m going it flows and that’s when I head to my studio.
There are only a few things I would not trade in this world for that feeling of being in the ‘flow zone’.
Perhaps because of this new kind of mulling, I recently realized that it has been years since I just painted something for no purpose, for a reason not based on a commission or what someone wanted to buy – just painted something to paint, to explore, to actively, in a most committed way, put that mulling process down on a surface. Painting rather than designing. A lot of my background training comes from the field of design and I love to design and I design wildly but painting is yet a wilder form of art-making for me. When I design I am reigned in by the strictures of good taste and functionality and thinking of other people’s feelings – all good things really – but when I paint, Oh! When I paint, that’s for me.
I’ve come to realize with my penchant for designing images combined with those ebbs and flows of creativity, energy, and the activity of mothering, I am not totally sure what my style of painting or subject matter of painting is anymore. I can affect numerous styles and I can see how they are all products of my hand and conceptual ability, but I can’t say what is really MY style.
So, here I am trying to discover myself as an artist all over again.
And it’s wonderfully exciting.