An Artist’s Perspective On Making Art
I LOVE being inspired.
Feeling inspired sends a pulse of golden energy through my body. And with it comes a buzz of flittering excitement.
Like a wave, this inspired energy brings with it a notion of hope, creativity, optimism, imagination, endless possibilities, and purpose. With this inspiration, I feel like my own King Midas, with the ability to effortlessly alter just about anything into pure gold with just a breath of my enthusiasm. Inspiration makes me feel invincible and aligned with my purpose for being on this planet. When I feel inspired, I feel like a super-hero.
However, like one of those schmarmy infomercials that promotes an uncomfortable sense of urgency, there is a sense of timeliness that comes along with my inspiration; as if this creative effort NEEDS to be done NOW or else I might lose it. Or worse: someone else might get this idea and publicize it first.
And, if life went exactly as I wanted it to, I would drop everything and respond to this call of creativity.
But, often when I schedule some time to create, it goes less like my ideal and a little more like this:
Regardless, my creative drive is strong so once the distractions are dealt with, I can manage to get in a few minutes of creativity.
But like stubborn dog, inspiration doesn’t always come when I want it to.
Sometimes it comes at 3am rudely waking me from a comfortable slumber with a confused pomp and circumstance. I toss and turn with thoughts as equally restless as I am, wondering what was sooooo important to steal me from my dreams of gold and glory. After about an hour or so, I may get a hint of something glorious that needs to be manifested into this world.
Or sometimes it will come in the middle of the day, at work, when I really, really, really need to get projects completed.
But, at some point, when inspiration comes knocking at my door so loudly that the only option I have is to answer it, I make time to create… I have to. If not, I get edgy, resentful, and throw some artful adult temper tantrums.
So, after my pity parties and tantrums subside, I allocate some time to create either after my daughter goes to bed, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, or even 15 minutes in between projects during the day. And, if I don’t, I’m fortunate enough that my incredible husband will see the signs of my emotional distress and will take our daughter on an outing so I can have some quiet time to myself.
And then, just when all is quiet and in place, and nothing else needs my attention and is absolutely perfect… just then when I think all will go my way… just then, my own thoughts can sometimes backfire.
Sometimes, instead of optimizing my precious time, I start feeling those waves of guilt that kept me from creating in the first place because I am not sure if I REALLY should create or if I should be a responsible mom/wife/friend/business owner instead.
But, like I said before, if I don’t honor my creative spirit, I get cranky… super cranky. So I do some self-talk to justify taking a little bit of time during the day for me. And yes, though I still feel some of the guilt when I start creating, it always feels so worth it when I am done.
And, if my internal judge shows up and decides to start criticizing that what I am making is utter crap, (which she does quite often), I sometimes make a practice to completely embrace it by creating the absolute ugliest thing possible. I choose the ugliest colors and just go, pushing paint, spreading paint, scraping paint, sometimes even smearing or removing paint. I get free in the expectation of what I am painting and just embrace the process. Or if drawing, I work heavily in pencil with that handy kneaded eraser nearby, knowing that in the end, Photoshop can help me remove those little horrors if need be.
When I settle into it, just creating something can help me as a form of meditation and helps me feel creatively free. But no, the initial product is nothing I want to show anyone. In fact, it can be terribly embarrassing when someone comes over to see something in this stage.
I used to get worried that they will think that my art is crap and is all I can do or that I have lost my marbles and am officially crazy. And though that is really frightening, I’ve found a lot of freedom in this process. So I push through the fear and embrace that the “ugly” stuff is just a representation of some of my more flavorful parts of me (like my anger, frustration, etc.) and these layers of “ugly” are just part of this whole process. All I can do is just accept it.
I’m sure that after I get through the layers of psychoanalysis and am able to remove my deep dark issues of unworthiness, abandonment, repressed anger, etc., that my process will go smoother. But for now, this is just one part of my creative process and part of me. So, as uncomfortable as it is, I choose to embrace it, and just paint and create. And, despite the icky-ness and frustration, in the end, it feels amazingly freeing.
And, though all of those processes seem sometimes so crazy and complex, once in awhile, when I just surrender to the will of the world, the trifecta of a beautiful meeting of time, inspiration, and effort will occur for me.
I don’t know when it will happen and can’t force it. Yet, when it occurs, I feel so blessed, like I have won the lottery.
It may be only 5 minutes, it may be 5 hours, but when the three come together: time, inspiration and energy, that is the circumstance where truly insightful creations can be manifested.
I have made it a priority for me to have creation time in my life because creating is a integral part of who I am. I have the blessed opportunity to create for my job and for myself, whether it be through painting, comics, or graphic and web design. But the time I allocate for my inspiration doesn’t always procure masterpieces.
So I have to just take it when I can and realize that though I have a thousand ideas, some inspiration doesn’t need to be acted on. I can choose to revel in the yumminess of the times when I can create, free of true judgement of the outcome of the piece and self-criticism, even if it is only 3 minutes of creation. When I allow those hints of inspiration to come through, free of all the “should’s,” it is the best feeling in the world.