February 7, 2011

The Ebb...and Ever More Ebb...of Creativity

Creativity can be capricious, haphazardly wandering in and out of my life.  Thankfully, the periods in between satisfying artistic productivity - let's call it creative hibernation - has evolved over the course of the last two years.  I no longer experience weeks or even months without the need to create something, a sign that creativity and acting upon it have progressively become a regular part of my life.  This is a blessing but also a curse, since the burning internal plea to be creative is more often extinguished by fear or fatigue.  (Must remind myself to resurrect my copy of Art and Fear.)

I envy the artists and craftspeople (craftswomen, if you prefer the less politically-correct idiom) who have the opportunity to create on a daily basis.  They seem to always have the time, the means, and the energy to put things into action.  These days, I consider creativity a fickle friend, similar to, say, sexual desire:  it's always there in the background to some varying degree, but can be particularly insatiable at involuntary moments - and seemingly dormant at others.  But, you know what THEY say about the grass being greener, having to force "creativity" out of necessity could also take the fun out of it.  Or at least that's the excuse I am using.

The small town I grew up in had one small high school.  It also had, among others, one chemistry teacher, one girls' gym coach, and one art teacher.  Mr. Raposa taught the art classes during my freshman year before retiring that following summer.  He was also my mother's art teacher, revealing not only his general age but his goodly experience as an artist and educator.  He was the kind of man that had a deep, raspy voice (I think he might have been a smoker), silvering black hair - grown to a more carefree length than most teachers - and an obvious artistic bent that made him seem cool and young for his age.  A man of his tenure and laid back nature was just what we young endeavoring artists needed, but he gave enough direction to really teach us some new things:  integrating classical poetry and art, "seeing" something as opposed to merely "looking", and experimenting with various art media and styles (paint versus pen and ink versus pointillism versus expressionism).  What I liked the most about him was that when he looked at you, almost through you, it seemed he could see you for all of your artistic potential.  It felt kindred in some ways.  It was encouraging and it felt good. 

He also taught us something else:  If you don't feel artistically inspired, it's okay if you take a day off every once in a while.  We certainly weren't hearing mantras such as this from other teachers!  What I believe this instilled in us, though, was not a sense that we could get out of doing work, but that inspiration is so much a part of the process of making art and being creative.  It was a concise, but enlightening, lesson.

I find it particularly difficult to be inspired and creative during the winter months.  A day off from art every once in a while is rather a long, bitter season lacking in creative motivation, perforated by brief encounters of almost creating.  The coldness of these winter months has turned my formerly sultry relationship with art into a frigid one.  Frustration begets more frustration and the cycle of the ebb continues without a reciprocating flow.

This is the time when I look forward to spring and all of its resultant renewed senses and vigor for life.  The memories of melting earth and smells of soil and warm spring rain are buried deep in my psyche.  The growth that spring carries with it offers a sense of rebirth that no other time of the year can evoke.  For me, spring re-establishes a world of possibilities and catalyzes new goals, and often times, refreshes previous ones.  And so it goes, the cycle of intention.  Consistency makes perfect, right?  Or is that practice?  I could use some of both - and a little flow.


  1. I am amazed by your accuracy in describing such abstract concepts. I mean, I felt I knew exactly what you wanted to describe and imply in this post. Thanks.

  2. Simone, Thank you for following the blog and thanks so much for your lovely comments!