Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The backlash

This was unforeseen.  I don't want to do anything.  I have had two unplanned for snow days due to arctic weather.  Several times I have gotten out knitting needles, the sketchbook, a crochet hook, just to have my inner child stomp it's foot and say I don't want to!  Admittedly, the last three months or so I was forcing myself to be creative in some form.  I didn't want to, I'd lost interested and wasn't feeling fulfilled by the process anymore, but I made myself.  Now I am no longer staring down a "must do".  Now my creative self seems unwilling to cooperate.  I hold the knitting needles in my hands, poised to work on projects, and nothing.  The needles won't move.  I can't make them move.  Nor can I make the pencil move.  For years I did very little creatively thinking I was not a creative person.  I now have more confidence in myself and yet now I can't make myself create anything.  Have I tapped the well dry?  How does one replenish creative energy?  Over the past year I made creativity something that I had to do in the hopes that after that experience it would be something I want to do.  And I do want to do it.  At least a part of me does.  However there seems to be a larger part of me that is saying, "Enough!  Stop!  I won't do it and you can't make me!"  I have a temperamental toddler in my head who refuses to let me create anything.  It doesn't care how bored I am either.  How do you reason with your inner child?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

I have written and rewritten the beginning of this post several times.  It's difficult to pick a place to start.  I have a lot of thoughts about this past year and this endeavor and they all seem to want to be expressed at the same time.  I suppose we'll start with big picture and work our way to the smaller.

I have officially completed 365 creative projects.  Well, completed is a big word.  I suppose it's better to say that I have successfully worked on creative projects for 365 days.  Some, like paintings and sketches were finished in a day.  Others, like knitting and crocheting projects, are still incomplete and their chances of completion in the future is foggy at best.  I am very proud of myself for what I have done this year.  While it was a goal, I wasn't sure I actually had it in me.  I suppose putting it out here in the public eye made for a bit of ego issue.  I may not have been good about updating the blog regularly, but if I did not actually complete the project I assure you I would have deleted the blog to save face.  Failing to meet a goal is one thing, failing to meet that goal in front of a bunch of people is something else entirely.

What have I learned this year?  A lot.  If that's not a gloss over answer I don't know what is.  I have learned that being creative is not some mythical thing.  It's a part of who you are.  Whether or not you choose to tap into and develop that aspect of yourself is entirely up to you.    I have learned that Chicago has an amazing array of art classes available in far more venues than I ever knew about.  It is my goal in 2014 to continue to sample new forms that I haven't yet.  I have learned that I like acrylic paints, but am not a huge fan of watercolors.  I like sketching, but shouldn't force myself to do so quite as much.  I love weaving, knitting, and still love crochet.  I liked pottery and tried really hard to like mosaics but don't really.  I like oil pastels, but not enough to use them regularly and I am not a fan of chalk pastels.  I've learned that upon viewing what someone else has created, many people are likely to comment something to the effect of how talented the creator is and about their own inability to draw a straight line.  I've also learned that much of what I've done this year has had little to do with natural talent and much to do with skill building and determination.  There is a reason there are so many art tutorials on YouTube.  Simply speaking, like with anything else in life, if you want to get good at something you have to practice.  I have said many time that I have no gift for perspective and proportion in terms of drawing.  When I look at what I've produced this year I can see that it's less that I wasn't good at it and more I hadn't developed the eye or skill for it.

Despite all the things I've created this year, I still would not come close to considering myself an artist.  I will accept that I am a creative person, but calling oneself an artist is another thing entirely.  Let me explain.  Around September/October this project became really difficult.  I was admittedly depressed and therefore less likely to want to express myself creatively, but more than that I didn't feel like I was expressing myself.  Somewhere around this time, I didn't like a single thing I created.  Not because I couldn't see the growth in skills or because there was anything wrong with it, I just didn't feel like I was actually creating anything.  I was mimicking.  At that point, I was comfortable with the skill set I had been developing, and I was tired of scouring the internet to find pictures of scenes or things to recreate.  I didn't want to recreate things anymore, I wanted to create new things.  Essentially, I wanted to find my own creative voice.  Here is where the problem is.  There are any number of blogs and tutorials available to teach you skills.  You can learn how best to lay paint, methods of shading, the best way to make a tree, but no one is going to teach you how to manifest something new.  No one is going to tell you how to find your voice in a ten minute YouTube video.  What is interesting is that it took nine or ten months of creative endeavors for this feeling to develop.  It took months of exploring skills and different media before the exploration was no longer enough.  Having to create something everyday became extremely frustrating and it wasn't even something I wanted to do anymore.  I think that is why the blog became such a challenge.  If I got no satisfaction from the piece, why would I want to share it.  It is this feeling of dissatisfaction that I am looking to explore in the coming year.  I am doing what I do best, researching.  I have a couple of books now on the creative habit the building thereof.  In 2014 I am hoping to start finding my voice.

Last night my sister asked if I was planning on continuing the blog and I said I didn't know, because I didn't  Today I think I have decided to continue the blog, but in a far less militant sense.  My goal is not to create something everyday in 2014.  I also don't want to lose what I have developed over the past year.  It is now my goal to use the blog as a place to continue my journey into creativity informally.  I will keep creating and posting when I do.  For the most part I will be posting finished products (as opposed to pictures of the three rows I knitted that day). 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and offered words of encouragement and art supplies.  When I think that at the beginning of this year I had a sketch book, a set of pencils, and a small set of acrylics and I look at all the art supplies I have now either because someone got them for me to try or because someone recommended them and I tried them, it's amazing to see how the collection has grown.  Before this year I never filled up one sketchbook.  I'd never even filled half of one.  At the closing of this year I filled three and a third books.  I couldn't have done this without support.  Thank you.