We've all been through it. It's normal to have breaks in our creativity.
I think the biggest fear that comes up when I acknowledge and embrace the lull is: can I go back and paint at the level I was at when I stopped? Will I be able to do it again?
Welcome to the uncertainty of being an artist. There is no answer to this, only to go forth and stay committed to the path.
At the beginning of the long weekend, still not accepting the fact that I needed to take a break and I went back to the studio thinking I could force myself into some painting...I did a short meditation and asked this new series of work what it needed. I was still pushing.
The work told me loud and clear; "Give us space, trust the process, have some patience, we're coming in our own time, you have all the time you need to bring us to completion - we'll get there in our own good time!" Yes, this message appeared in large cursive writing in my studio journal, loud and clear.
Closing up my studio, I decided I would read a new book in the area of creativity. I packed up my daughter, the stroller, beach towel, chairs, buckets, snacks, water, and sunscreen off to the beach . Yes, this is the delights of living in Southern California in November - you can go to the beach!
Fifteen minutes of play a day, this is the gift I received from the first chapter of Creating a Life Worth Living - a practical course in career design for artists by Carol Lloyd. Carol asks the reader to commit to a ritual at the same time each day – to do something playful every day. By play she means something that there is no product or goal associated with. Something that is pretty much mindless, that you could do just as easily ten years from now. Something FUN!
Some examples of 15 minute play dates with your inner artist child could be banging on bongo drums, doodling in a journal, dancing, sitting on your rooftop watching the sun rise, drawing mandalas, walking a labyrinth, singing improvisational melodies (remember like when you were a kid?) meditation, walking, journal writing, yoga, and gardening.
Why play? Why take the time to be non-productive, have fun? First off, Carol says first that committing to a small ritual like this every morning teaches us to be commitment to our creativity. The empty space created by ‘being’ in the moment opens up our minds to new ideas, inspiration. It’s this act of committing a seemingly mindless action that creates empty space for our imagination to blossom and grow. By doing it daily, It also provides us with structure and self –discipline which will strengthen our imagination by instituting emptiness into each day.
I think David Lloyd puts it best in his interview in the first chapter of Creating a Life Worth Living when he says:
“Adults have a hard time making art, and kids don’t. You give a kid a bunch of coloring books, construction paper, and all crap kids love to screw around with, and they just start making things. Adults go in their studio and they have all this horseshit in their heads about what it’s like to be an artist, whether artists have a big skylight and a fancy studio or whether they live in a little crummy place: whether it’s okay t to have a cappuccino in the middle of the day or they should be smoking a cigarettes and drinking beer; whether they should have a show or shouldn’t have a show…it just pile on so thick it’s no wonder so many people get stuck.”
Why not give it a try? Lately I'm so cranky from producing, producing, and more producing (writing a marketing plan, worrying about what the heck I'm gonna blog about next week, re-writing my artist statement, updating my website, organizing a workshop for another artist... ) why not remember what it's like to create without expectations? Do something just for the fun of it?
I’ll keep you posted…
I would Love to hear about what you do to play - how about those Kaizen Muse Coaches - what are you recommending to burned out artists such as myself?
The “comment lines" are always open ! Can’t wait to hear how YOU play.
You do play, don't you? :-)