Many times in my life, I’ve had to stop and wonder which of two truths is the truth? Especially when both seem equally real and valid. How can I be devoted to and invested in two opposite truths? Isn’t truth subjective, contextual, and ever evolving? Sometimes, even contradictory? When it comes to creativity, the following three paradoxes have helped me navigate the complex nature of a creative life.
Paradox #1- Create when you’re inspired AND Create when you’re uninspired
It always feels exciting to create when I’m inspired. Those moments need to be captured, lived, and expressed! I feel a compelling need to release my creative energy when inspiration visits me. It’s like a good friend appearing at my doorstep. Of course I want to invite them in and dedicate time to visiting together. Creating when I’m inspired is an effortless effort. The tank is full of good juju and so the journey begins. But what about when the tank is empty? Zero inspiration. ZERO. Feeling uninspired sometimes is a natural part of living a creative life. But this is when making an effort to create is most important.
Athletes don’t just train when they “feel” like it. They train every day. That’s how they grow and become amazing athletes. When I am short on ideas, low on energy, emotionally blank, or distracted by the busy details of life…this is when it’s time to take out my supplies, show up to the canvas, and move my hands. These are the moments when my creative muscle is strengthening most. I believe every creative effort (big or small) is rewarded. But, the efforts that build character and deep roots are the ones I make when I’m uninspired. Because I’m strengthening my commitment to my relationship with my MUSE. Making her top priority. Golden nugget: Create anything, just create. Inspired or not…CREATE. That simple.
Paradox #2- Don’t be influenced by other’s work AND Seek influence from other creatives
As an artist, expression of my unique creative voice is the most important part of my creative journey. I dig deep, stay aware of what inspires me in my environment, and tuned in to what moves me in life. Usually I feel it’s best to limit external influence. While I appreciate my soul digging and creativity-mining process, I know it’s foolish to think I’m not influenced by others or worse yet, to be resistant to influence. “There’s nothing new under the sun….” How true is that? I’ve grown to appreciate the influence of artists that I respect and with whom I share a synchronous vibe. For example, experimenting with Flora Bowley’s “intuitive painting” is a healing and rich influence. Embracing the fearless use of bold colors like Laura Hollick does totally inspires me! Capturing women’s expressions as subject matter is what I admire about Anahata Katkin’s art. Allowing other artists’ work to inform, guide, or influence our creative work is not only ok. It’s necessary. It’s expansive. Downright OK. Golden Nugget: Seek and express your creative voice. Allow the talent of others inform your work.
Paradox #3- Don’t settle AND Good enough is good enough
We live in a culture that tells us not to settle. Reach higher, dig deeper, and strive farther. These are compelling goals for the creative because it moves us beyond our comfort zone and into a greater one. There are times I work, rework, and then rework a piece again. Why? Because I don’t want to settle for an artwork that isn’t enlivening and fully released. It’s essential to my growth not to settle. That said, there are times when good enough, IS good ENOUGH. A critical mind can inhibit a peaceful conclusion to a creative work. No amount of time, effort, or technique is going to make it greater than the moment I realize it is good enough. Period. Golden Nugget: Trust your intuition when it tells you “don’t settle” or when it let’s you know that your work IS good enough.
I love the complexity of the human experience. Things make sense and they don’t make sense simultaneously. We are layers upon layers of perception, experience, and understanding. It seems that while it’s important to live by creative guiding principles, it’s equally important not to be defined by beliefs and to be open to change. Because what works in one creative moment, may not work in another. Creativity is about hanging on tight and absolutely letting go!!! The jewel is in knowing when to choose either.
What paradoxes influence your creative expression? How do you keep your creative flame lit up? Please comment below and share your tips, insights, and wisdom with us.