Creative process is a birth. Births are hard work. Blood, sweat, and tears are involved – sometimes accompanied with a lot of shouting. Take a little time to remember this and celebrating the process. Take today to congratulate your inner mother for persevering.
By recognising ways to Mother your creativity, new and better work will evolve. All mothers nurture, encourage, challenge, protect then release their young. Artist should be no different.
The word nurture means to care for. How do you care for your creativity? Feed it. Give yourself the time to appreciate what inspires you. It doesn’t matter what the inspiration is, it can be something different every hour, what matters is giving it the attention it deserves.
Have a favourite view? Take a walk. Like to visit galleries? Make a plan to go. If you can’t go in person, take a virtual tour online. If it’s music, set aside a few minutes to listen to an inspiring piece every day. Whatever your spark is, recognise it and let your child mind savour the moment.
Encouragement can be hard. The inner critic is quick to jump up, shouting about mismatched seams, garish colours, poor shape or bad word choice. I like to give this critic a name- the bully. That’s what it is. Let it shout but don’t believe what it has to say.
Tell your inner child you won’t let the bully stop play time. Carry one with your work. Carry on with pushing out the best you can do right now. There might be better technical artist, but no one has your ideas, your vision, your passion. Believe in them, let the child know you respect and appreciate them. It is what gives the piece the life it needs to be successful.
Let the piece rest. Take a short break, then challenge it. Make observations only though, no judgements. This should not be a harsh or emotional review. Simply ask questions. Where is there room for improvement? Does this piece say what you wanted to say? If not, why not?
Keep in mind this is your baby your reviewing. It wants to make you proud, but babies need to grow and learn. Maybe the tone is too dark and the painting would be snappier with a brighter sky. That’s a constructive observation. That’s something you can be mindful of with the next piece or make the adjustments with this one.
Do not let the bully into the room when challenging your work. Words like – “it sucks, it’s awful, why do I bother?” are bully tactics. You are the Mamma of this little critter. No decent Mamma lets a bully beat up their baby. Send those judgments to sit in the corner until they can behave.
Now it’s time to let your baby walk. Art lives and breathes by influencing human hearts and minds. It is very difficult to do this wrapped in a box under the bed.
You could enter it in a show or put it up for sale, but there are other ways to let it go. Think how to let the work interact with the world. Could it brighten a wall in your home? Would a friend love a new bracelet? Could you leave a beautiful marble for a fortunate passerby to find?
There are of course those pieces that simply do not say what you wanted. Weather by lack of technical skill or a vision that needed more refinement, keeping these too long clutters up a studio and can block new ideas. You could say they were stillborn. It’s OK to be sad for the time spent, the visions unfulfilled, the materials used but in the end the piece needs to be sent to rest. Some artist burn old drawing or manuscripts. Once a year, I fill a box with glassware, wrap it up in tape and say goodbye. Sometimes it take me two or three weeks to actually take it to the tip but I know it must be laid to rest so I can move on.
So be a good mamma, love your creativity and encourage it to grow. No one know what wonders will blossom until you do. Now go forth and create.