On the surface, it may seem that I’m having a dry spell. It’s true that lately I’ve not been producing work that I want to show. But there’s been quite a bit of busy stuff going on down below in the nether regions.
That’s the thing about creativity, and particularly I’m talking about making art because that’s what I do. But these things apply to various areas of life. If you’re like me, art IS life, the two cannot be separated. And I have a very holistic approach to art, which is something I’ll talk about more another time. Sometimes you can’t knuckle down to work. Maybe physically, emotionally or mentally you’re just not in the right place, not ‘feeling it’ Or maybe your life just isn’t giving you the actual space and/or time you need.
Can I please use my river as a metaphor, again? Thanks ;)
Sometimes it flows beautifully clean and clear, brimming with life, things bubbling happily as the light dances. It’s utter magic. Then there are times – coincidentally these often happen after a period of torrential rain – that the debris brought downstream clogs the river. The fallen logs, rocks and stones build up at the edges and create contained pools. As the water level drops the algae, sludge and ick build up. It gets smelly and stagnant.
It’s similar with my art if I don’t keep moving. I can’t budge the muck and get back to the sparkling joyous place of activity. I too get icky.
Recently I’ve had a breakthrough. I’ve learnt that creativity, like most living things, is cyclical or at the very least non-linear. And the shift to quieter days are not inherently a bad thing. They are a necessary part of the process, and process is the quaffle rather than the golden snitch, which is where the fun lies.
As I see it now, pauses are essential. They allow for idea germination, resting and relaxation, other creative work or projects away from art, pondering the next move, or simply just taking a big step back helps me to look at the entire forest instead of focusing on a particular tree. The key is to just keep the energy softly flowing, in whatever way works for you, until it circles back around to the exciting making art bit.
I’d been a bit untethered since coming back from Madrid. It was a great source of inspiration but it also took a lot out of me and longer to recover than I thought it would. I’m still struggling with issues in my body, my movement and my emotions post cancer remission that I hadn’t banked on being so difficult. So I’ve been doing a lot of me-work, trying to get stable. An unexpected blessing came with a visit from a friend, that marked the start of an extended period of commitments that will take me away sporadically from my art practice for a few weeks yet.
I acknowledge these interruptions and instead of getting annoyed by them, just accept them. With my friend here (and luckily she’s a very like-minded one) I found I was able to cultivate an ‘inner’ practice, and find other ways to keep my brain-radio tuned in to the Suzie Art Station. We visited art exhibitions – the fantastic Eduardo Chillida in Toulouse and the annual Artistes à Suivre; pottered around exploring my local area, viewing through her eyes was fun and refreshing. Of course, there were many walks in the hills and forest, or by lake and river. And above all, talking – swapping ideas, seeing things from a different perspective. With my friend’s insight I’ve gained some clarity on a goal of mine.
During this phase, you are often absorbing all sorts of information that will be of use at some future point, percolating ideas or just giving yourself a chance to be still. I’m going to allow this ebb and flow to happen, without force or strain. My new yoga instructor gently reminds me to not dwell on the past or ponder the future, but to keep prompting myself to remain in the present when I catch my thoughts drifting in either of those directions. And as I said earlier life=art, art=life. The interconnectedness of everything.
“It will come and go, and you must let it come and go” – Elizabeth Gilbert
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