I’m an Artist. Great, congratulations to me.
That means I should be flowing with new and ground breaking ideas, basking in the creative garden of Eden within my own imagination, right? Sure maybe one day, but right now? No. It’s more like a treacherous climb to the top of a jagged mountain promising new, glistening ideas that are just out of reach. Basically, sometimes it’s really exhausting to come up with that new idea. You can see its there, but you can’t quite make it out or know what it means.
Sometimes, I just don’t feel creative.
By not “feeling creative” I don’t mean that I can’t come up with any ideas at all (though that happens). I mean that I struggle to create an idea that I actually like. One that I can stand behind and actually project. An idea I believe in. The other night was one of those nights and it was the first in a long time. It was as if every single idea I came up with was just some half baked nonsense including the materials I usually like to use. Don’t get me wrong, they did look like beautiful pieces, but they meant nothing to me. And I can’t make a piece of art and have it mean nothing. The concept behind the work is just as important as the craft, and in some cases it means more. At least, regarding my own feelings towards my own work.
The reason why I felt so compelled to come up with more ideas for future work is because of my pending graduating from my bachelors program in May. And till May, I have less than 5 months to utilize my departments facilities to bust out a new body of work and then some to tide me over till grad school. Till then, it’s going to be a while till I’ll have access to a studio that has a wood shop, metal shop, foundry, casting materials etc.
(Just fyi, I’m taking the year off after graduation to do some artistic research out of the country.)
So anyway, I found myself pacing around my apartment, computer screen covered in X amount of windows from various articles of interest I’ve saved. Sketchbook flipped through dozens of times, rechecking old ideas scribbled down. And one book with multiple dog-eared pages to reference led me down the right path. But it didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere. I could feel the idea right on the tip of my tung but I couldn’t see what it was. It was quite frustrating, I can assure you. And also, just a little scary. Though I shouldn’t have been scared, because this happens sometimes. Though it had been such a long time since my last creative drought.
In retrospect all I had to do was think and focus. But for me, that is easier said than done. Especially at home. Most of the time, my ideas come to me at the studio. I had a professor once that told me how she would deal with her own creative/ work related issues. She told me that she would bake cookies and leave them at home. And force herself to work in her studio for a few hours, knowing she would reward herself with cookies later.
Since her advice I’ve done the same with various foods or entertainment. But even more so, the motivation is not having to stress about getting something finished. Or feeling the weight of self doubt as an artist. That little voice that nags you.
“why aren’t you working?”
“How can you not have any ideas? You can’t let yourself regress creatively. Might as well give up.”
“If you would have spent your free time this afternoon in the studio you would have been so far a head.”
So with all that in mind, I just kept thinking and mentally balling up and tossing the ideas that lacked the power in the meaning. But each idea lead me closer to the one I was looking for. Like the fable of the crow and the pitcher of water. Each scrapped idea brought the ones I really wanted closer and closer to me till I could finally seize it.
Now the hard part is over. Now I just have the make the thing.