Friday, December 3, 2010

Creativity and Artist's Block

I have been struggling so so much with "artist's block" lately and have tried more times that I can count to cure myself of it. I've tried disciplining myself, making myself paint everyday. I've tried looking at other work by artists that I admire. I've tried reading inspiring words and passages, quotes and books.  I have tried looking through images I find inspiring. I have tried forcing compositions. I have tried talking with other artists. I have tried doing nothing, in hopes of letting creativity "naturally flow." All of this to no avail. I am in an artistic rut. I will be honest and admit it. A friend and I really delved into this issue last night, trying to figure out why it is that I am in this place. The best that I have been able to do to get out of said rut is to paint (or at least begin paintings...) that I know I could never sell or do anything with because the images aren't mine. Practice pieces if you will. And they've turned out really so much better than all the others I've recently started. And overall, they are not bad. I'm still a little frozen when it comes to finishing them, but they are way beyond my other "messes," and I still have a somewhat interest in them (good sign). But still. something paralyzes me.

I told my friend that in the past, I have always felt like it is God who creates my artwork. I honestly feel that I start painting, and then a few hours later, I "wake up" and find this piece....  I'm just like wow... who did that? I used to call it "happy accidents" because I had no idea how they happened. Now I know that it's God. I feel like my painting, my creativity, is the moment where God meets me. And he takes over, and does amazing things.

Which is why when I can't seem to have these "moments," I feel a little abandoned by God. I don't understand why nothing is happening.

Then my friend hit on something quite interesting. Recently, I have posted none of the pieces I have been working on, here or on facebook or anywhere. I have barely let my family see what I've been working on. And I feel that the result is much better paintings and the fact that I am still somewhat interested in finishing them. My friend, as a result, noted that I base a lot of my talent on the opinions of others. I measure myself against my old pieces because I know those are already accepted. I fear failing now. I fear being a bad artist in front of others. I fear that in their eyes, somehow, I became worse instead of getting better. As I think of myself (and by default, my art) so shall others see me.

I read this post by Donald Miller today, and I thought it so relevant that I really needed to share....

The Great Stumbling Block of the Creative Mind

The great stumbling block of the creative mind is the awareness of self from the perspective of others. Self awareness isn’t the enemy, because we are in fact masterworks of God, but rather the overemphasis regarding what others think of us. When we think too much about the opinions of others, we are letting them edit a book God has written.
In his introduction to C.S. Lewis’ sermon The Weight of Glory, Walter Hooper says Lewis was not capable of writing a great work until he converted to Christianity, not because only Christians create great work (obviously) but because his conversion marked an inner change in which he ceased to take much interest in himself.
In an age in which we can project an image and score that image based on immediate Facebook and Twitter feedback, thus making a video game of life and a false-reality composed of lies, what gets lost is a joyful obsession with the work we create from the purest of motives, a sheer joy in the act of creation itself that causes us to lose ourselves in something else, and in a way die to ourselves over the absolute love of a thing we are breathing into life.

You can find Donald's original post here:



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