Friday, January 30, 2009

Not an Artist.

"Everything always passes, and everything is already okay. Stay in the place where you can see that, and nothing will resist you." - Martha Beck

(We are back from Grenada, but I will tell you all about it tomorrow. I haven't got my pictures ready yet, and a holiday needs to be illustrated! So today I am getting right back into the blogging book group.)

This week the chapter is about surrendering to your creative cycles. I had a hard time reading this bit of the book. It's not because it was too much or too hard (or because I am severely jet lagged) but because I feel that sometimes when we talk too much about the "darkness" or the "creative void" that it perpetuates the idea that if we don't have these dark creative blocks or if we don't feel like we are being tested for our art that somehow we are not artists.

For a long time I felt like I couldn't be an artist. It wasn't because of talent or about skill, it was because I didn't think I was full of enough angst. I wasn't carrying a sketchbook everywhere I went, or scribbling furiously in my diary every few minutes or lugging a guitar around with me like my 'artsy' friends were. Those people were artists. I was just me.

I wrote big colourful letters to friends and painted a sun on my ceiling. I scribbled in journals when I felt the need, and I doodled in the margins of my notebooks. I decorated my bedroom with beautiful things, and collected multi-coloured sunglasses. I acted in community theatre productions, ran the craft program at summer camp, and all the while I thought because I didn't feel the passion that these friends seemed to feel about art or music or drama, that I mustn't really be very artistic. What I now realize is that creativity isn't something that you can turn on or off or own or suffer through. It is how you live your life.

Please understand that I do completely agree with the concept of creative cycles. You can't force yourself to create a masterpiece every day. Everything and everyone needs to go through cycles of rest and renewal and growth and creation, but I think that getting lost in the drama of it all can be an enticing enemy. Using terms like "surviving the void" makes us feel like the creative cycles are scary and something to be overcome. I choose to believe that creative cycles are something to relish. Sometimes you show up and you can write pages, other times you only get three words onto a page before you realize that you actually want to be baking or painting or walking. Listening to these urges can bring out the most amazing things. I am going to tell you what I think: your art doesn't need angst to thrive. It just needs you living your life with all you've got, following your creative urges, and trusting that it will all make sense in the end. least that is what I believe.

"... women who have been intimate with the creative process and created pots or books or prints or whatever, have a confidence in the cycles and the inevitability of the emergence of the new. Creative passions have come and gone, and therefore there is faith that inspirations will once again emerge." - Gail McMeekin


Sacred Suzie said...

Art doesn't have to be dark or angsty. In fact, I think a lot of those people are posers. There is nothing wrong with joy in art. Having fun with art is the true artist's way.

Genie Sea said...

Welcome back Megg! :)

I agree 100%!

It's funny how we all buy into archetypes or stereotypes. Like an "artist" is only one kind of person. That's really silly, isn't it?

One has to be "serious", and "tortured" and recognized only after a long life of struggle and poverty.

Oh blah...

Creativity is a way of life!

You said what I was thinking, but held back because I don't want to dampen anyone else's experience. Kudos!

Tracy said...

Such a lovely post! I loved hearing about all the ways you were/are creative. :)

Lissa said...

"It just needs you living your life with all you've got, following your creative urges, and trusting that it will all make sense in the end."
Absolutely beautiful. Well said.

Shalet said...

I think art can be the opposite of angst. It can be uplifting and bring joy. Keep it up.

1,000 Faces of MotherHenna said...

I crown you ARTIST! :)
Love all you shared here... you know sometimes my fallow times are just that I need to go outside and do all my art in chalk on the sidewalk! The revolving cycles come in their own shapes and forms for each of us -- and it is ALL art! Thank you for sharing your art here with us -- and I bet your friends looooove those colorful letters!!!

CynthiaMarie said...

Just showing up to the page! that's the only magic secret trick! Thanks for reminding me! Also, the reminder that creative spirits come in all forms.

wonderful thought, very peaceful and moving.

blessings :)

Caroline said...

You are right - a lot of creative energy can go into that drama!

You clearly have made much better use of it.

Vivienne said...

wow meg...i'm kind of tripped out reading that 4th paragraph, as it sounds like my life! i too acted in community theatre, ran the craft program at summer camp, wrote big colourful letters to friends and drew in my page margins all the while thinking I wasn't an artist either.

this post is such a beautiful reminder to me that the choice is to life an artistic life, not just create an idenity as an artist!

p.s. you are lovely!

p.p.s. can't wait to hear/read about the vacay!

intothedawn said...

Oh, the angst and drama! Like Alanis Morrisette's first CD! LOL

You're right, art is about creating JOY.

Lisa said...

"enticing enemy." What a beautiful line.

I love some angsty art and I have even felt regret that I didn't "do" art back when I was more angsty. lol I am happy now so that is the kind of art I make. But I like it all. Dark,'s all art to me. :)

I have known creatives who kept themselves in that dark place intentionally. I think the most important thing is to acknowledge where we are, whether in a fallow place or a blooming rainforest and to surrender to it as a part of the process.

Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

Megg, What a breath of fresh air. I also get tired of this particular archetype, and I think it is beyond dangerous, especially since creativity is so often the antidote to depression.

I don't believe in this idea of feeding and coddling our gremlins; if it sounds violent, well, so be it -- I believe we need to murder those little bastards and then burn their bodies. :)

Why not feed our creativity with creativity? Feed our health with more health? Happiness with happiness? Why not decide THOSE are our cycles?

(Note: I have suffered from SEVERE depression in the past, so I am not oversimplifying here. I've learned all this the very hardest way.)

Kavindra said...

As an angsty person, I could not agree with you more. The quickest thing to kill creativity is depression and anxiety - people who were crazy artist created IN SPITE of the obstacle, never because of it.

I think this stereotype should die as soon as we get out of our high school goth outfits and start living real happy creative lives!

chest of drawers said...

You ARE an artist! I insist!