How Just Making a Mark Can Set Our Creativity Free
The Start of Something How Just Making a Mark Can Set Our Creativity Free
As I was walking into my kitchen today, I passed by an old favorite painting of mine called “Anticipation”. It’s a painting that I’ve actually been asked to sell a few times but will likely never let it go. It’s packed with all kinds of memories, revelations, bits and pieces of my mind (and heart).
But, today, what caught my eye was the center of the painting where some thumbprints lie and stamped letters that read “The Start of Something”. I looked at the date, also stamped, which reads Jan 28, 2003. I am shocked that thirteen years have passed since that moment.
I remember it as if it was yesterday.
Standing in front of the dreaded blank panel, I was so stuck and frozen in that creative space of “making the first mark” that I wanted to cry.
The start of something can be paralyzing. And for some reason, my creativity had screeched to a halt.
My work process has always ebbed and flowed. I’ve always had dry spells where nothing was there. I’d learned to put my energy into reading and other sources of inspiration while I waited for the moment to break through.
But this time, it was different. It was an extremely raw time in my life. Usually, emotional upheaval fed my work and kept me sane. But this time, I physically felt sick in my gut at the thought of making art and it went on for months and month.
On that particular January day, a friend and fellow artist had stopped by and as he listened to my creativity woes, how paralyzed I was at starting something, he put his thumb in some black paint and made some marks. “There,” he said, “Now it’s started.”
Of course, I could have made that same first mark myself, but somehow his action was enough to nudge me forward and out of my paralysis.
Those simple thumbprints led me to make one of my favorite paintings and several others, as well.
So much has transpired during those thirteen years. Somewhere along the way, my creativity switched gears and I started to paint less and less and write more and more. In a million years, I never saw that coming.
Where my creativity is concerned, I’ve learned to honor how I feel each morning and go with whatever is inspiring me.
When I’m stuck, I get physical – I dance or ride my bike and without fail, the “Voice” checks in and tells me what to do. Sometimes I have to ask it to slow down because the inspiration is coming at me faster than I can handle. I’m not complaining, though, because it sure feels better than being stranded in the desert.
And I’m lucky that I have “Anticipation” to remind me that all it takes is to sit down and make a mark, start typing, or pick up my camera and go for a walk.
As everyone knows, there are few moments in life more satisfying than expressing creativity. And I’m not just speaking to artists. We’re all meant to create something in this lifetime – the key is to figure out what that is.
I’m wondering how you handle time spent in the creative abyss. Please share!