Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Artist Date

Ever had one of those days where you felt like your creativity was just a bit sluggish?  Or that everything had gone a bit stale, and you felt you couldn't really draw, or paint, or take photographs, or write, or any of the creative things you love to do?

And I'm not just speaking to those who consider themselves 'artists'.

It's taken me a long time to realise that not only am I an artist myself, but I am surrounded by other artists - they're everywhere. You're everywhere.

But in many ways, what we know as 'real life' begins to suck the creativity right out of us.

As Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
A few months ago, a friend of mine posted a quote from a book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

I liked the quote so much that I looked up the book, subsequently bought it, and now I'm engaged in what she calls a 'creativity course' (via book), and what I have found is a process of unblocking.  I don't want to be someone who is only creative on the days that I feel in the mood...if I'm to truly use the gifts God has given me, then they should flow out of a continual creativity, and it is actually possible for that to happen.

So, there are two aspects to this, two suggestions that Julia makes which I've taken on board enthusiastically.  One is to write - just write, anything, for 3 pages every morning.  The second is called an 'artist date', which is 2 hours of something creative just for yourself.  Something different from your usual creative outlet.  For some reason I avoided this artist date for a while.  Perhaps I was fearful that it wouldn't be 'good'.  But what I've read from The Artist's Way, one of the most important keys is to just splash away creatively without constantly judging it.  (My inner critic can be really helpful, but sometimes can be just plain discouraging.)

Last Friday therefore, I took two hours out for painting.  I haven't painted since I can't remember when.  I decided to paint an old brown belt I had lying around, and then since I had extra time, I just whipped out a few little mini-paintings.

I didn't intend to, but I ended up enjoying the results (and the process) so much that I documented it and the results.

Here they are, then, my new belt....

 ...and my mini paintings.

First, I started with something that was a big ol' mess and I eventually turned it into a cheerful sunflower.  Proving, perhaps, that even the ugliest of things can eventually bring joy and beauty?

Next, a few swishes with my brush and I suddenly had what felt to me like a wind woman, with a silvery-grey cloak, hair and flowing cloak waving in the winds and breezes.  It said 'hope' to me, though I'm not sure why.

Next a focused, almost too-bright sunshine.  Reminding me of South Africa (where I had hoped to go this month - but another time!), Cyprus (where I will be going this summer), and Arizona (going there in May).  Fierce, strong, hot, bright, and beautiful.

I played about with the gold and silver paints, and a Bible verse came to mind from Psalm 119, about how the Word of God gives more pleasure "than countless thousands of fine coins of silver and of gold." There's another one, too, that says "The laws of the Lord are perfect, converting the soul...more to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold...sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb." (Psalm 19)  So some of that gold, and silver, and honeycomb, came out in this painting.

And finally, a red love heart, perhaps left over from Valentine's Day?  It seems to have some bars across it, but they fade from a darker pink to an almost pale white...almost disappearing.  I could go long into detail on that one, but suffice to say I like it. 

I like them all.  I was amazed what came out of my hand in just two hours of a new kind of creativity.  And the total cost was £3.50 (the cost of the belt and the paintbrushes).  All this glory!

It's true - you can't pay money to get this kind of joy.  But I sure had it. 


Pin said...

Amazing how much joy can come from paint, paper, and time. :)

James said...

That's some lovely photos of some lovely painting. The belt looks particularly well done!

I once tried painting, just for the fun of it. The results are humiliating - One was supposed to be a sunrise, except some black got into the sun and messed it up, and the other was supposed to be a dragon, but in the end turned into a dragon facing off against a tank. I'll dig out the photos of them.

I think my real weakness lies in an inability to visualise, and I don't know how to fix it. I can see anything in my head that I've already seen, but to imagine an image in my head first, is next to impossible.

James said...

Heather L. said...

I LOVE your paintings!!! I'm so glad you took time to do this! Have checked the book out of the library and will read it. Have a project this month of writing something each morning -- just a page for a project and am amazed how good it is to do that each day and how the writing seems to flow the more you do it. I think I should have some sort of permanent project after this little one is done (letters that I'm writing).

Laura said...

Hey Karen.. I love the idea also.. and love your little paintings.. keep going.. I keep my sketch book and paints out all the time.. while I talk on the phone.. I can paint a tiny picture.. at the same time.. too fun.. thanks for sharing!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone! Yes, it's so amazing to discover that your creativity just pours out in other ways! @Heather, I think that's a wonderful idea, i've been doing it for a few months and it has made all the difference. You will LOVE it. We can compare notes when I come!