Creativity Reboot

“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

Last week I put one of my watercolor paintings in a local exhibition. I received many great comments from people and I have to say I was happy at the outcome after working with yupo paper and watercolor and lots of texture. Someone made a comment, “Awesome, you are really onto something.” I created three different works using this medium. Each had varied themes and painted from past memory.

This week I stood in my studio and looked at my work. My range of work goes from those loose watercolors on yupo paper to more traditional watercolor paintings of realistic birch trees, landscapes and studies of flora. If I include the collages and my mono prints I have quite a mix of work. I shrug my shoulders as I look at the work and ask myself,  “What am I trying to do? Is it even any good?”

Sometimes we stumble upon wisdom in interesting places and just when we need it. In my case it was a two minute video called  “Taste” by Ira Glass and Daniel Sax The premise is that in creativity there is a gap between one’s taste and one’s skills. In this case, taste is the ability to make discerning judgments about aesthetic and artistic work.

We enter into a world of creativity because we have taste but we also apply that lens to our own work. Oops, we realize our work does not match our taste! Glass’s insight is that this is where most people quit. The only way to “catch-up” to our taste is to do a volume of work and this takes a lot of time. Glass continues by advising “when in this phase it is important to fight your way through it..”  The encouragement in this video is that the gap phase is something we all go through.

So if I can stop myself from asking “Is the work good?” and instead focus on what I am learning from it then I can alter reasons why I choose to be creative in the first place. Not for approval but for personal breakthroughs and learning.

I have done many paintings, collages, mono prints that are all part of the process. It is okay to explore different media and art processes. I can only strive to view my endeavors as a potential and a curve by which to learn rather than creating something that will be considered great by someone else. If they sell I am delighted, but first the work should be regarded as important to learning.

Thanks for reading!