April 7, 2016

The Seasons of Creativity

It is disheartening when the fruits of your creative labour are misshapen, slightly off, or sometimes completely rotten. It sucks when your physical self isn't able to pull off the vision in your mind, or when your mind feels completely empty, and your creative juices run slow as molasses.

I guess we call this artist's block. The oh-so-dreaded artist's block. We talk about it, we feel it and we discuss in great length how to get past it and create again. Artist's block is the bane of a creative's existence.

I'd like to propose a new way of looking at what we call artist's block. Instead of a negative, a hurdle, or a hump, I believe it is one of several creative seasons. It is part of a cycle, a perpetual rotation of inspiration, creating, thinking, observing, sharing, searching. The same way that we have lulls and preferred seasons in terms of weather (these are winter and summer respectively, for me), there are creative seasons that come and go and change the way we create. Certainly as artists, each of our minds works in a different way., so I'm sure that we all also have our own creative seasons and our own cycles. I am curious to know if mine are the same as yours!

These are my creative seasons:

A Season of Creating
This is the creative season I liken to summer. My favourite season! Every creative person loves to create. Isn't that the whole point? The thrill of feeling endlessly inspired and capable of transferring that inspiration and passion to paper or clay, or textiles, or canvas! Whatever your medium may be, it is a wonderful season. It feels like the sun has come out and life is brought to every synapse of your brain. It challenging and frustrating to not be in a season of creating. Especially with the pressures we put on ourselves to constantly create - we are also told again and again that consistency and constancy is particularly important for marketing ourselves as creatives on social media. So, for obvious reasons, a season of creating is exciting and important both personally and for our creative careers.

A Season of Thinking and Questioning
Why am I making the art I am making? Why do I tend towards circles all the time, why do I do this art at all when no one is paying attention to it? Do I even like this art anymore? I begin to question my creative process and suddenly doubt what I've created just a week prior. I begin to analyze my creative practice and find it harder to engage in making new work when my mind is too full of the why's and the how's. I start to question whether it is a worthwhile pursuit and whether or not "I've got what it takes". This is GOOD. This is my creative winter, but it is necessary. This season is a reflection of an eagerness to grow and an unwillingness to stay stagnant in my art-making. I want to try harder to use this season constructively and be critical of my own work. I want to use it to grow as an artist and not succumb to the frustration of not being able to fluidly create. Not to fret, the creating season will come again.

A Season of Observing, Searching, and Sharing
For me, a season of thinking subsequently leads to a season of observing, searching, and sharing. This is somewhat along the lines of the usual "how to get out of artist's block" advice. Get out there, go to art galleries, scroll through art websites, read a book, read a magazine, watch some movies. Go for a walk, explore a new neighbourhood, talk with your friends, share what you like back and forth with them. Discuss. Keep an eye out for what tickles your fancy and what you are naturally drawn to. Also make note of what doesn't appeal to you. Go to some show openings and meet new artists. Look out for people doing similar things to you, and find people who do completely different work than you. Get out of your own head, and put yourself out there!

A Season of Inspiration
This is my creative spring. It is exciting, it is the prelude to my favourite season and I can smell it nearby in the air! This is a season full of inspiration and visual stimulation. The empty mid-day sky is beautiful, the light falling through a glass of water is beautiful, the buildings downtown are beautiful, the grungy sidewalk is beautiful; there is even beauty in the mouldy bread that was left on the counter for far too long. In this season I may not be ready to make things yet as there are often too many ideas in my head and too much inspiration to make sense of. But - it does feel like I'm coming alive again and that I'm collecting fuel for the Creating Season to come. Often, the season of inspiration can be just as fun and is certainly just as important as a season of creating.

Every season has its pros and cons, some more than others. Unlike our world's seasons, my creative seasons vary in length and often coincide with other life events. I have creative winters when I'm too busy and my mind is too full because of a specific job. Sometimes creative summers are brought on because of an incredible trip, or even just an inspiring museum visit.

I feel like I am just about to enter a season of creating, which is exciting! But, for maybe the first time, I've embraced the other seasons I just went through. It was time for things other than creating, and that's OK. It feels really good to accept each season for what it is.

What are your creative seasons, are they anything like mine?

No comments:

Post a Comment