This post should have been out a several days ago, but as you know, I am a procrastinator. Here it is, however late. 🙂
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Miss Renee, an artist and art teacher, and had an insightful conversation about inspiration and her creative process. While this approach doesn’t work for everyone (as with many things) I’ve been able to apply these principles to my own practice with fabulous results.
Miss Renee says that for her to be creative, she has to have organization. A few ways that she puts things in order is to makes lists. It was funny: she said that she makes lists of her lists since she has so many. Organizing her workplace is paramount for creative success for her, and this is one of the things that I’ve applied to my own creative work. I took apart most of my studio (read: my bedroom) and put my belongings in order. The result is that I can focus on the task at hand and I don’t have half the distractions I faced before. Outer order creates inner calm.
Although it is temping to get into organization so much that we try to schedule out every single minute in our day, Renee only organizes the big picture, allowing for spontaneity and unexpected things that she may come across in the day. The priority for her is to get creativity done, even if she has a particularly long list and has to abandon it. She tries to keep her goals realistic; unrealistic goals hamper creativity.
When I asked what inspired her, she said that she gathers inspiration from needs, making utilitarian things aesthetically pleasing. She also looks at what tools or supplies she has when she isn’t particularly motivated as another source of inspiration.
As a part of her creative process, after she gets inspired, she asks herself, “What are my limitations? Can I learn this if I need to?” She’s a sculptor and painter, so a big thing for her is to do research on what she’s creating so that she can portray it accurately. She sketches and then does a sort of test-run. If the project then fails, she emphasized not to give up. “It’s okay to make mistakes,” was something that she said a few times during our conversation. “Be willing to have something go wrong; it isn’t a failure if you learned something.”
If she realizes that an idea won’t work, she’s learned (through much trial and error) to be willing to accept it. “The more creative you are, the more mistakes you might face.” It’s a risk that we have to take. We can’t trade creativity for living under a rock for fear that we won’t make it perfect the first time, or even perfect at all. Exploring, testing, and learning is key to expanding as an artist or creative person, and was something that was reinforced in my mind when I talked to Miss Renee.
Thank you, Miss Renee! I had so much fun talking to you and I learned so much!
(This conversation may be released as an actual audio recording; please say tuned and tell me if that is something that interests you.)