Skip to main content

How do you keep the creative fire burning?


I find the creative process to be a fragile place between the conscious and the unconscious. Sometimes I have intensely creative periods and then periods of lower energy, where I still love painting, but the energy behind a series of paintings begins to dissipate.

The composer John Adams said in an interview on CBC radio that he doesn't wait for the Muse to come to him, he improvises and then inspiration comes to him.

My process is similar and yet my own. I keep working even when I find the energy is letting go of a series I've been working on. But there comes a time, as I keep working, when I get a flash of a new idea, maybe in a dream, or just as a clear thought.

I have artist friends who seem to work steadily at their painting with no diminution of their energy. As an outsider looking on, it appears that they have consistent energy in their work from one year to the next. Part of me envies this consistency. Part of me knows that I am not like that and I need to work in my own way.

Besides continuing to work, or 'improvise', when I am in an in-between cycle, I find I am more open to receiving inspiration around me.
Here are a few ways I try to open to inspiration.
Mostly I find if I can quiet my mind, a space is opened.

1.Go for long walks in nature or go and sit in the woods. I am lucky to have woods behind my house so I can sit there often.

2.Meditate. I learned a form of active visual meditation many years ago that really works well for me.

3.Swim. That's my favorite activity and I find, like walking it calms my mind so that new light can come in.

4. I mow my lawn on my riding lawnmower. No kidding. This is one of the best ways to zone out. My earplugs are in, I can't answer emails or phone calls, and I have to focus but not. I guess it's like doing dishes by hand or washing the floor. Mundane repetitive tasks are really excellent for quieting the mind.

5. Tai Chi. I started Tai Chi a year ago and still can't do the 108 moves by myself. So I keep attending classes and following the others. But it is phenomenal at making me focus.

6. Listen to CBC radio, especially Tapestry with Mary Hines, the Sunday program that focuses on the spiritual. Or, "Writers and Company", with Eleanor Wachtel. Listening to such inspirational interviews is good for the heart and the mind.

7. I love reading poetry from time to time, most especially Mary Oliver. But I also love and continue to read Rumi and Rilke.

8. I also love the occasional inspirational quote, which I then write down and keep in my file of ...you guessed it, "Inspirational Quotes".

Here is the quote which I have been rereading lately:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." Martha Graham

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Vulnerability in Art and Life

I taught a cold wax painting workshop in abstraction this past week at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario. I've never had so many beginners in one class before. Two had never ever painted. One hadn't painted in 4 years. Three made art using other media. Only two painted regularly in landscape and abstraction. What a challenge! In our morning discussions, I gradually came to understand that the main challenge each artist had to face, was their vulnerability. Of course this is the case in every class. I suppose I was more clearly made aware of it though in this workshop. 

As an artist, you come up against yourself all the time. There's no way to hide who we really are. "I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straitening shyness that assail one." John Steinbeck

I've written many times before about vulnerabilityHere, and here. Yet it still comes back into my life, not only in…

About Place: A painting workshop on the Camino

Rebecca Crowell and I are staying in a gorgeous retreat centre on the Camino de Santiago called Flores del Camino. It's in the small stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares with a population of 100.  Voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, the streets are cobblestone and each of the unique earth-coloured stone houses is joined to the next in rows that wind through the town.



There are no yellow arrows or brass shells embedded in the village road marking the way of the Camino, as there are in larger cities. It basically consists of one-street and the  Camino resumes at the edge of town.  Paying attention to the moment doesn't stop though when you come into the village because walking the uneven cobblestone streets is an exercise in mindfulness itself!



The owners of this retreat centre, Bertrand Gamrowski and Basia Goodwin are committed to supporting pilgrims who are walking the Camino, offering them a place to stay as well as offering dinners (payment by donatio…

A Case for Coming to Art Late in Life-Part 1

There are a lot of us out there who have come to art later in life. My workshops are filled with women (mostly) who are between the ages of 50 and 75 (The baby boom generation). Probably most are between 60 and 75. And what interesting people they are! They bring their life experiences with them to their art––their heartaches, joys, achievements, worries, and gratitude. And they are, for the most part, committed artists. They are embracing art like it's finally their time. It's what they've been waiting their whole lives to do. They come with their souls on fire.

"and there was a new voice 
which you slowly
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do––
determined to save
the only life you could save." The Journey by Mary Oliver

 It doesn't matter how old you are if you have passion for life.

That passion can carry us a long way. And while recognition is important in the way…