Thinking there is a right way to be creative or "do" art. Have you ever been told you're doing it wrong? That your art isn't art because you didn't do it the way someone else has done it? Have you ever told yourself something similar? Let me be perfectly clear.... there is no wrong way to "do" art. The act of the art is the only thing that matters, because your story matters, and in every piece of art is a piece of our story. Who is that person to control how you tell your story or diminish its important because it doesn't fit inside the paradigm of their own perceptions. Art is, and always will be, subjective. It's an indefinable way to express our own creative spirit. The expression matters, not the methods or techniques used.
Not taking risks. Oh, comfort zone, how we love thee. This is perhaps my biggest creative sin. I do what I know and I enjoy a place of confidence in my competency and the idea of failing at something new really, honestly, terrifies me. But one of the biggest ways to stifle creative flow and growth is by refusing to take risks. This doesn't mean you need the newest tool or the best supplies. This means it's important to flex the creative muscles any way you can, even when utilizing the materials already at your disposal. What matters is trying something new and sharing it with others. Because it's through the sharing of it that we realize our fears are misplaced.
Self-criticizing before the process is complete. Don't get me wrong, it's an important part of the creative process to be honest with ourselves about our work and the ways in which we can improve. But one of the quickest ways to derail progress is criticizing our work before we've even finished it. How many times have you scrapped a project and started over? By doing this, we are teaching ourselves that our story (here I go with the "story" metaphor again) is somehow flawed and, excuse me, but you... are.... not.... flawed. So I challenge you with this: the next time you want to scrap a project, fight the urge and push through. Use that mistake and build from it. Because what is a story without the mistakes from which we learn? And you might be surprised by the magic of your mistakes.
Inconsistent creative times. If you've followed my blog for five minutes, you'll know I'm a huge advocate for organization, planning and order. And while many creatives may fight this ideology and cling to the cliche that artists are inherently chaotic, there is an important role of consistency and order in the creative process. By this, I mean it's important to create daily. Every single day. It doesn't have to be gallery-worthy. It doesn't have to be wearable. It doesn't even have to be particularly pleasing to look at. It just has to be made, however small, however functional, however utterly UN-artistic it may seem. Create something every day, be it a sketch, a poem, collage, a journal entry, a prayer, a photograph. Even 100 ear wires or 5 feet of viking knit chain. All of these activities stimulate the creative muscle and it's through this daily stimulation that our imagination and creativity become habitual.
Consuming more information or skills than we have time to process. I see this one a lot. I want to learn bezel setting. I want to learn soldering, or metal clay or electroforming or acrylic paint pouring, knitting, pottery, crotchet! This may be hard to hear..... this may even be totally counter-intuitive to your nature..... but it's important to limit our creative endeavors to what we have time to really invest in and process. Learn something new, yes, but then do that thing for months and months. Do it until you don't have to think about it any more because your body knows what's required of it to tell your story effectively in your art. Then learn something new, and do that thing for a year. But, by consuming an endless library of skills, techniques or information, you're more likely to overwhelm and short-circuit your creative muscle than you are to flex it.
Believing there is nothing new to learn. You know that saying "there's nothing new under the sun"? You should, because I've mentioned a time or two how much I hate it. The confusion here is that we sometimes believe learning is limited to technique, but art and creativity is more than that. Our voice and heart and spirit (however woo-woo that may sound) is part of the process, perhaps the most important part, and there are always new ways to express that spirit. I challenge you to spend thirty days.... one whole month.... working with only one medium, and make something totally different with that medium each time you pick it up. If wire is your medium of choice, make a pendant one day, a brooch the next, a sculpture, then a candle holder or a wall hanging or a picture frame. Teach yourself (through risk, as mentioned above) that there are endless ways to tell a story and you'll never know them all.
Toxic comparison as a form of self-sabotage. Oh boy. This is a big one and perhaps the most damaging of them all. Because there is no quicker way to dampen our creative flow than by comparing ourselves to others. And we've all done it, I hazard a guess, because we're socially wired to see ourselves as less than. Our bodies are less than those in the ads. Our paintings are less than those in the galleries. Our jewelry is less than those in the magazines. But that's doing ourselves an immense disservice, because comparing our work to others is diminishing the heart and soul of our creative flow. My challenge to you: go to Pinterest or Google and find that artist and his or her work who sparks you to say "I'll never be that good." Go on... do it. We all have that artist to whom we have compared ourselves and found ourselves lacking. And look at their art. Admire it for the beauty and talent and dedication it took to complete it. There is purpose and meaning in surrounding ourselves with the art of others and finding beauty and inspiration from it. But then look at your own art and note all the ways, even if you have to physically write them down, your work is amazing. Did you utilize a new technique in your latest piece? Did that wire flow in just the right way to lead into the next and the next and create a whole? Did the combination of materials spark joy in your when you put them together and planned your work? Be proud of your accomplishments. You made something! And the next time you make something it will be better.
So tell me, have you committed any of these creative sins? Are there sins you've created that I haven't mentioned here? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
2/5/2019 07:31:55 pm
I have a family member in need of my full time care and do not have time for daily creative time. I have not given up. I do a bit here and there and make time weekly to look for inspiration for the future. There is always time to dream.
2/8/2019 08:30:27 am
Thank you. I will try some of your suggestions to get my creativity flowing again.
2/8/2019 03:30:25 pm
This is one of the most beneficial blogs, I have ever read and several points are so relevant to how I feel right now. I cringe, whenever I see people saying, there is nothing new...It is new to the person doing it and that is what matters. Thank you for this blog in entirety.
2/10/2019 12:54:07 pm
Just the article that I needed to read today. I have been feeling that I have used up all of my creative juices lately. I've found myself slightly panicky over this. For me, I also find that my perfectionism can also get in the way. Thank you for posting this. I will probably re-read many times.
2/11/2019 06:01:19 pm
I had to chuckle at this:
2/15/2019 11:16:08 am
omg, 1, 3,4 and 7. 7 was really getting to me this past month.. that no matter how hard i tried i just couldn't get to this next level i have been trying to get to.. it basically turned off my creativity and its been a bit of a dry spell.. i am trying to remind my self that it doesnt have to happen on anyones time line but my own, and that even though i want to level up i do not want to be a cookie cutter of those i admire anyway, so why do i constantly compare my designs to those designs.. they are not my style so why beat my self up for that.. still sucks though.. and although i am saying the right words in my head, my heart is not listening ... lol
2/16/2019 12:28:52 am
Thank you so much! Today was going to be "clear away the jetsam and the flotsam day" I got 2 square feet done and then a customer called and I took care of her repair before her vacation! So, flexibility is really important, because as a former engineer, I was as rigid as a train track rail! I'm proud of myself for shifting gears without grumbling.
2/19/2019 06:44:30 pm
That last one! Toxic comparison! Every time I see the works of people like Noetic Effect, I feel the urge to sell all my wire, stones, beads, etc., as a de-stash! I've gotten better about it and have accepted that at my age (62), my hands and wrists have limitations. I love doing wire work! I started out doing Viking knit chains and I truly can't say I know of a better meditation tool! Thanks so much for this excellent blog! Through your tutorials, YOU have pushed me further than I ever imagined!
3/10/2019 01:48:57 pm
I have done every one of them except thinking I know it all. Soooo many tutorials I'm going to try, dreaming about how to make designs I see in groups, not creating every day, etc . Thank-you for this list if sins. I will use it to focus my efforts to start creating again.
3/12/2019 04:31:23 pm
after my son died l was so lost it was hard to know how to find my creativity again. My older sister makes jewelry and she was the one who inspired me to walk the path and getting me to paint the dragon eyes. Needless to say my first ones were pretty bad but l like to think l have improved. To celebrate my sons life l did a art show of his photos which were awesome. This helped me not sink into depression along with watching your utube videos. Too many of what l did l thought were awful but at Christmas a friend brought 6 pieces that l never thought of selling because l did not think they were good enough. We look and see the mistakes and imperfections others just see something they love. Lessons in this mean to accept what we create has value, our tim, the love of working the wire, and the finished product
3/15/2019 07:07:06 am
Not creating every day is my major sin, we've inherited a Victorian house, which we were living in with ma in law which hasn't been worked on or maintained since the seventies except in our part and can only be done when time and money coincide so creating has been laid down as a treat for getting cleaning tidying or washing done, which though I didn't realise it at the time caused depression, which I didn't recognise, until I joined a mindfulness through arts and crafts group
6/4/2019 11:16:40 am
Consuming more information or skills than we have time to process! WOW! Why didn't somebody tell me that 50 years ago? I have corners (yes!) of my house devoted to different crafts. Here's enamel, here's the beads, metals are over there, and tools are all over. Some people graze on food. I graze on creativity as I move from room to room.
6/19/2019 11:03:54 pm
This touched me in all the "right" places. It really hit home and helped to clarify some things for me. The most essential for me is the part about being messy/unorganized. I continually try to get better with that because I find myself not finishing things because there is too much on my table. Also self sabotage and thinking "I'm/my stuff (is) not good enough". Thank you for writing this, I will come back to this again and again.
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