Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fear and Creativity

The sun is shining bright and my mood is looking up. It is amazing how the sun can make everything seem better. I even feel the creative juices in me stirring trying to get out! I love Spring!

I finally picked up a canvas and started mixing colors and painting. It was so nice to have the familiar feeling of a brush in my hand. I even went out and bought a bigger canvas. I have a few ideas brewing in my head. I just have to work up the courage to put them onto the canvas. Don't worry I will eventually post a picture of what I am working on, but right now it is too soon. I am still getting into the rhythm of using oils.

I spoke to two of my creative friends this week. It was ironic that in both conversations we talked about the fear of creativity. Trying to grow as an artist and illustrator but not knowing how to step out of our comfort zone. I found this blog entry by Anahata Katkin awhile ago and have it posted right next to my desk. It is a reminder that I am not alone in this stage of "creative resistance". So for my two lovely friends Zaara and Josephine (and anyone else who is experiencing creative resistance)...this is for you.

*THE CREATIVE PROCESS: Working with the 5 stages to overcome Creative Resistance
by Anahata Katkin

I believe the resistance is part of the natural creative expansion. Creative expansion is the juicy stuff artwork is made of. Some artists display a faster process and can work more fluidly. I believe this is due to how they react when they hit the edge of a creative expansion.

Artwork is made up of steps and mental landscapes. Like a good music soundtrack there are moods and different stages of fluidity and grit. Learning to navigate our creative process is about how our individual minds & emotions operate. The good news is it does'nt require a lot of mental activity as much as a gentle awareness while working.

Stage One: BLOOM
I generally have a BLOOM stage where I can easily get engaged and enjoy the process immensely. I feel impulsive and guided to an extent and at this point my mind gets excited and interested in the project. It’s a time of gathering, contemplating, enjoyment and play. Materials come easily and there is a general well being about the artwork.

Then suddenly I hit a place where I have maximized that stage and I hit that RESISTANCE. Remember resistance will occur naturally in the first third of the project. Learn to expect it. Do not be surprised when you suddenly hit the edge of your process. It is Real for every-one. The voice of reason is loud, convincing and intense. It can show up in the form of boredom, disinterest, frustration, tiredness comparing & exaggerated mental chatter about your artwork. Now I have recognized the value and realize that I have to work in spite of that voice. It is crucial during the resistance phase that you keep on working! The more you pause and stop working the more power and habit you provide to the
resistance. Most people stop right here and don’t usually push further. This defines an artist from another person. Artist will work through this piece. At this point try your best to observe the critic without reacting to it. Your critic will have some good ideas if you ask yourself questions like: How can I solve this visual question? What is it I don’t like and what flashes into my mind as solutions? That should be the extent of the power you offer your resistance. The resistance only signals that you have hit the edge of your creative breath. And when this happens it simply shows you that it is time for a new strategy or another creative inhalation.

Stage Three PING PONG:
And that? when I like to PING PONG between materials. Being that I am focusing on mixed media artwork and that is primarily how I like to create we have an added advantage.When I reach my resistance phase or in a sense a place of critical mass, I bounce to a new material and a new perspective. Drop your current medium and pick up a new one. The trick seems to be to move even more quickly and impulsively at this point. Remember your critic will b e trying to grow but by using your impulsive instincts you learn to tame the critic faster. With Ping Ponging you can gain a real momentum in the artwork and trick your brain into a new place. Change your focus from the main image perhaps to the broader. Lay down some charcoal in border areas, switch to fine pointed pen details or doodling for a little bit. Anything that will hone your intuitive creative eye and switch your perspective. Practice step two and step three. EVERY TIME you create anything. It is a lifelong skill that will serve your creativity every time.

My high school art teacher told me once that the moments when you return to a piece of artwork after a period of struggle is the most supreme moment in the creative process. I have never forgotten that and it has been a great discovery every day. During the resistance part of your process I believe it creates a kind of artistic vacuum. A puddle of skill and life force builds up behind all of that resistance. Because while you are resisting you are also asking from within yourself to be able to fully express yourself. And once the resistance is released all of that good stuff comes shooting in with a rocket of ability and artistic expression. And this place generally feels good and easy. Music sounds sweeter, the project seems to be coming together. Your body is able to move along with the brush. It? the cream of the process and it? what we all look for as artists.

I often find that I might experience the first couple stages again before I am ready for completion. Depending on the scope of the project this can happen many times. But at some point there will be a refining, a detail time. I find at this
point I have an pen dialogue between myself and the artwork. I understand the piece more and the direction of it. I work on the details of colors and patterns. Pen designs and finishing touches. I generally know I am there by the slowing down quality. The desire to fuss over it like a christmas tree and fresh tinsel. I keep wanting to see the piece through fresh eyes. That's when I know it's finished.


What do you think? Do you relate to any of the stages? What do you do to work through creative resistance?

Before I sign out I thought I would let you know that my shows last week were a great success! Both shows were very informal and a lot of fun! And the cards were a huge hit! I am going to search for a printer to see if I can bring my cost down. Right now I am printing them from my printer at home. They look really nice. The colors are bright and crisp, but the cost of ink is insane!
NAWA General Meeting
Setting up at the American International School's "International Festival"


Josephine said...

Thanks so much for posting this Diane!! It's totally been helping me out a lot : ) I've been jumping from project to project when I start to feel stuck, and it's keeping my creativity flowing. YAY! Thanks for your encouragement and support. And by the way, your stuff looks SOOOO FAB!!! LOVE your cards!! Congrats on everything going so wonderfully well!! YAY!

Diane Kappa said...

Thanks Josephine for your support! We artists need to stick together and send encouragement to each other when needed! Big Hugs to you my friend!!