Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mixing It Up Down Under: Creativity Unblocked

I've always been interested in the subject of creativity and read a lot about it. I don't write much about it at all. Why is that I wonder? I think it is because I leave it up to the experts.

I am reading this post over at Pikaland about creativity blocks. Amy has put together advice from 40 artists on how they deal with the problem. In reading through I realised (again! why do I keep forgetting!?) that we are all experts on ourselves! I am an expert on me! (Actually, I'm glad it's me. I'd hate it if someone else had got the job of being an expert on me.)

I haven't got through the 40 pieces of advice yet, and I don't know if I'm just going to repeat something that is already there, but I thought I'd write about my technique I have to break through creative blocks.

When I can't begin or when I can't progress it is usually my inner perfectionist raising her ugly-but-well-maintained head. I have become too precious about the project, sometimes it is just an idea but already I see it as sooooo wonderful that I could not possibly do it justice. I become blocked. I can't do a thing. My inner procrastinator (actually, it is rarely 'inner' - it is usually my outer coating!) is remarkably skilled at getting me to the computer to spend hours looking at the work others are NOT blocked doing. Or to the bookshop where I'm sure there MUST be a book that tells me exactly what to do. (There never is.) I waste so much time that I have had to come up with a technique to un-precious-ise my idea.

My solution is volume. Instead of beginning the one perfect work, I begin 7. Or 52. Or 3 if I'm being a bit lazy. How can you be precious about 7 paintings!? Well, you can, but to a much lesser extent. I can even convince myself sometimes that it is OK to have, say 2 of those as just pure experimentation. As I progress on my array of works, some naturally slip into the 'later' basket and others I become obsessed with, working at them until they are done. Ahh. Now that is what I was after all along - a little obsession to drag me to the canvas again and again.

If this technique doesn't work I know why. Again it has to do with volume. I NEED a quantity of art materials waiting in my studio. If I'm using up my last canvases, or the 2nd last sheet of my favourite paper, I can't work. I need an abundance waiting on my shelves. This too is a preciousness. If it is the last squeeze of paint from the tube, then I must do it justice, I can't waste it by making a mistake. I find that with a draw of paint tubes I can 'waste' any quantity of paint. And of course it has not been 'wasted' but has gone into something I loved making.

So I go shopping. When I prioritise I often have trouble putting studio time up high on my list of things to do, but I don't allow myself the sabotage of stopping myself from spending money on my supplies. I know from grim experience that there will be no point in putting studio time anywhere on my list if I'm not well supplied.

Now, one of the reasons I'm mentioning this here is purely selfish. I wanted to remind myself of this. How is it I keep forgetting?

This post also appears on my personal blog.

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