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Friday, August 24, 2007

Committed to Creativity

Two day ago, I spent several hours working on a digital collage. It can be a very time-consuming, nit-picky process to take disparate elements and blend them together well and somehow tell a story as well. After approximately two hours of work, I got the message "Photoshop has experienced an error and must shut down. Any unsaved work may be lost."

Humph. It set me back a little bit, to say the least.

My artistic recovery was to spend time (maybe a lot of time? I'm not even sure) playing with my Peerless watercolors. I dribbled them onto photos, I dribbled them onto wet watercolor paper, I dribbled them onto paper towels--you name it, I dribbled on it.

So much fun! Now I'm not saying this is great art--I can't paint like Elizabeth or Jessie or Leah, and I haven't written a book like Olivia's doing--but oh, to just play with no expectation of anything other than fun! This is what children do, ALL THE TIME, and it always makes me so sad that we squeeze this right out of them in school.

Not only did Mrs. Bacon tell me not to waste Elmer's glue, but she also told me not to just dribble water colors on my notebook paper. I guess I was just wasteful in many ways... But Mrs. Bacon was a good teacher, one of my favorites, and I was a very good and dutiful student, so I quit playing with my art supplies. And now, I wonder, isn't that exactly what art supplies are for? WASTING your watercolors would be locking them up in a cupboard, saving them for a day when you could paint a great masterpiece. Ahem.

I think that the luckiest, happiest adults are the ones who retain this ability to play and be completely in the moment. I include myself as one of the lucky ones; I've consciously cultivated this ability (first with gardening and now with art) to be completely involved in what I'm doing. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely involved in all I do. Take cleaning my house, for example--if I were totally involved in THAT I'd be up there right now, scrubbing and vacuuming and dusting, all of which it surely needs. I'm only completely involved when I'm doing fun stuff. Like sitting out here in the studio drinking iced tea. But I digress.)

So I think that's what committing to creativity for a month is all about--promising yourself and the universe that you will practice having fun EVERY DAY. So, yes, I do count my yummy crabcakes as creative, just like I count sitting with Joel and Katie last night, coloring posters Katie had drawn to say 'vote for Katie for School Council Treasurer'. She drew them, she lettered them, and then the three of us sat and COLORED, together. Time joyfully spent. (Joel would snort if he heard that I said that, so shhh! promise you won't tell him!)

So here's some of my 'play'. And may you all spend time today, not making some THING, but MAKING something.

Go play.


Leah said...

don't be putting yourself down, girly. you are an amazingly talented artist!!

and you're so right. being creative can come out in all sorts of places (like addressing my wedding invitations for example! :-)).

hooray for the practice of diving into fun!

mcewen said...

I'm a great believer is 'messy ' creativity and always encouraged my lot to get busy.
However my oldest daughter took a few art supplies to Mozambique with her [teaching for a year] She hasn't the heart to use her coloured pencils as no-one else has any and she doesn't have enough to give one to everyone who is there. It gave me pause for thought.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

You go, woman! This is so true, not only for the visual arts, but for music and literature, too. To be told "that's not the right way" by a parent or teacher is the ultimate kill joy to arts.

tammy vitale said...

oh good for you! play!

and don't you hate it when the computer does that - I cannot tell you how many blogs I have erased...but I'm getting better now.

I love the story and piece above this one - you really got that mini story form isn't easy!

Elizabeth said...

Major bummer with the computer, and well done for not throwing it out of the window but going off to play instead!
Thanks for the timely reminder of what art is really all about, play. I forget this nearly every day and definatley needed reminding...
Meanwhile I am finding that I am not getting much ART done, 'proper ART' that is with capital letters, but I am getting lots of sketching done... which is fun and I like it. (I'll scan it all as soon as poss to put up on the blog).
Can I just reiterate that you are a VERY TALENTED ARTIST please.
And you write a neat blog too :-) E

Mercer's Daughter said...

I'm a tad late in commenting on this post but I gotta tell ya when you said it's a waste to put our watercolors away until we are ready to paint a masterpiece really hit home with me.
Thanks so much for the encouragement!!!!!!!!!!
I'm on my way to my studio as soon as I post this!!!