Over the years I have read books by authors or artists about their process, about their working style and sense of creativity in their life. I read them over and over hoping to be more creative myself.
Currently I am reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is not the greatest book and gets a bit tedious at times but she makes really good points.
Each short chapter covers an aspect of a creative life.
- Avoid perfectionism: nothing is perfect – do the best you can and release it out into the world. Just try – don’t be someone who waits to create until they can do it perfectly – it just isn’t going to happen. There is always someone who will say you should have done this or that – draw, write, make music to the best of your ability. Just do it!
- Keep working no matter what: the need to be producing something all the time is important – otherwise creative people tend to be actively destroying something – themselves, a relationship, your own peace of mind.
- Persistence: Have an affair with your art – the idea being when people are having an affair they make time no matter what to see this person. They squeeze in a few minutes here and there but they always find time. They make things happen – so have an affair with your art – make things happen.
- Create because you want to: Don’t give up your day job – yes a few people make lots of money from a creative life, writing, painting, music but there are more who just create because they want to and need to express themselves in a creative way – they may never get money for it or become famous but they live a full filled life creating.
This list goes on and on with many examples from her life or others. I must say although I am skipping a few stories here and there and it is a bit long I am finding it helpful on these long, dark and cold winter days. These days when I am at the beginning stages of learning a new art form and feel often like throwing everything away. As a beginner is it easy to want to quit. It is easy to see those around you who have been working for years doing really great work and think – I can’t do that.
Taking steps to learn a new creative skill is hard. I have ventured into learning how to do botanical drawing and watercolors. I am learning about color theory and mixing paints, I am learning to draw and paint from real life subjects – leaves, flowers, fruits, veggies and more. I have a long ways to go and it takes way more time than I could have imaged. (image to the left is an oak leave in graphite – I will share watercolors later this spring I hope.)
I am learning:
- to look closely
- to understand what colors are mixed from the primary colors – have you ever tried to mix a brown purple and a purple brown. They are hard and very different colors (amazing)
- to slow down and work with care
- to be still and be kind to myself as I work
- to not expect to be perfect when you just start or ever
- to have fun and not to be over critical of myself
- to think
- to not be afraid to try new things
I am learning how to be a student again but this time it is a student who has fun and enjoys the learning instead of being fearful and over critical.
I guess I need to thank Elizabeth Gilbert for giving me a gift that is not perfect but has pushed me a long ways into keeping my creative life alive and well.
Thanks Elizabeth G!
What are you doing to help keep your creative life alive and well?
Painting by P. J. Redoute (1759-1840)- a master at Botanical watercolors