Finding and Losing and Finding
Years ago, I met a painter who shared with me her understanding of what it means to be an artist. She described the creative process as one of 'finding and losing and finding.' This notion has stuck with me over the years through my exploration of materials, techniques, and concepts as I continue to develop my artistic voice. The ebb and flow of the process of creating and recreating is what draws me in and motivates me as an artist. It is a process marked by struggle, surrender, frustration, anticipation, excitement, isolation, connection (the list goes on...) It is a process of finding and losing and finding.
As any maker has experienced for themselves, there are good days and bad days. There are days when we feel particularly lost, discouraged, or uninspired. Though it’s an inevitable part of the process, there are steps we can take to help us get back on track. I’d like to share a few things that have helped me find my way again and again:
Get some fresh air.
Literally and figuratively. Stepping outside or taking a deep breath can be a quick and simple way to clear your mind and hit the reset button. In a different way, seeking 'fresh air' can mean returning to your source of inspiration. Whether it’s a leaf on a tree, the ocean, a person, a pet, a song, a quote, take some time to breathe it in and remind yourself why you create.
Mix it up.
As a painter, I spend a lot of time using the same materials and, to be completely honest, sometimes I get tired of it. Experimenting with different materials and techniques is a great way to recharge. Spending 15 minutes knitting on the couch or rearranging collage pieces is all it takes for me to return to my paintings with new energy and a fresh perspective.
Listen to the masters.
I find comfort in knowing that there are countless artists who have traveled this road before. I count on their words of wisdom for encouragement and inspiration. Here are just a few of my favorites:
“Creativity takes courage.”-Henri Matisse
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head almost nothing.” Marc Chagall
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
Tapping into a creative community (thanks CYL Collective!) provides an outlet for connecting with others who can relate to your experience and serve as a reminder that we’re all in this together.
I’ll be the first to admit that at times my artistic process has been fueled by external factors--What will people like? What is trendy? What will sell? This preoccupation with external validation distracts me from making art that is true to who I am. I have found that my most successful pieces are the ones that are most personally meaningful. Within them exists a depth that cannot be forced but occurs naturally as a result of authentic inspiration, investment, and self-expression. Be true to yourself and the rest will follow.
Make, make, make, and then make some more!
We’ve all heard it before, some of the greatest discoveries have come from accidents, mistakes, or missteps. In order to arrive at these breakthrough moments and continue to grow, we need to do the work and make mistakes--lots of them--along the way.
I wish you all the best on your creative journey. May it be a process of finding and losing and, ultimately, finding.