Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When The Muse Leads You Astray

Garden Fresh Tomatoes
Grown by Me!
Watercolor and Graphite
Stillman & Birn Sketchbook
11 x 8.5 inches
Since we've been discussing our muses, I would like to continue down that path as my muse is very dear to me. Over time, I've had a number of interesting comments around muses that makes me think this is a subject that is deserving of a bit more attention.

I've spent a good deal of time developing my muse into a separate entity from me, but make no mistake she is me and I am her. We are one in the same. I like to think that she is all of what I am not, wish to be, aspire to be. She's the best of me times 10.

When I discuss my muse going on a walkabout, it's usually because I've allowed life to become uninteresting, dull, bogged down in the tedious. If I pay attention to her, she glows, blooms, twirls and inspires me.

But occasionally, it appears that my muse wants to lead me astray. She wants to do something that appears counterintuitive to what I think we should be doing. I've already mentioned the rough year I had last year and how I was buried in technical BS, websites, and such. I've talked about why Sam left.

What I didn't mention was that when Sam came back she had very little interest in art.

She didn't want to splash in the paint. She wasn't crazy about color. She didn't want to sketch, draw or pick up a sketchbook. It worried me. I was scared. Had I lost my passion for art? Had I let the love of art die while I wrestled with the demons of business? I wasn't sure.

Instead, Sam was pushing me to write.

Write?

Write what?

I've dabbled with writing longer than I've held a paint brush. I've never taken it seriously. It was just another way to express my creativity. Oh, a thought about creativity…when I think about creativity, I don't think about how someone might be a creative writer, a creative dancer, a creative sculptor or a creative cook. For me, creativity comes from the some source and is directed into various pursuits by the individual.

In other words, you are creative person and you direct your creativity to ___________ activity and it can be anything from decorating a home to writing a play to arranging a garden. Creativity affects every part of our lives, some more than others.

So…back to Sam. Sam wanted me to write. In early January, I sat down in front of my computer and let the words pour forth. To date, I've written one full length story of about 150 pages that has inspired a second story that I am currently working on.

I have no illusions or delusions about my skill level. I've never been to school to be a writer and I am seriously doubt that the stories will go any further than my laptop and that's okay.

Their purpose was and is to lead me back to using my creativity, to feel my creative well, to allow me to feel like the creative being I am.

When I first started to write, I kept stumbling with the words. I was worried about doing it wrong and not getting right. I was concerned if it would be "good enough."

Meh.

First lesson Sam was teaching me…if it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly until you get better. Kind of like art and learning to draw.

Second lesson…get out of the way and just have fun. I was my own worst enemy being worried about the rules and whether or not it was good enough. When I set all the rules and worries and judgements aside, I started having fun. Lots of fun. And the words flowed.

Third lesson…allow the creativity to happen. Stop resisting because it doesn't fit with where you think it should go or how it should be. The story started overflowing into other parts of my life and before I knew it, the creative fount was evident in all areas of my life (well, except maybe my laundry room). It feels good and that brings me to the last lesson Sam had for me:

Trust.

I had to trust my muse. I had to trust myself…to be creative—in whatever way it felt right to be creative. I had put myself in the box of artist. And I am an artist, but I am more than just an artist. I had to trust that the creativity had not dried up and died.
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I'm curious to know if you're struggling with your muse, with being creative. If so, I challenge you to look at the following three questions and answer the one that resonates with you the most:

  • I am creative, but lately I haven't felt like participating in my regular creative activity. Instead, I want to do _________.
  • I think my muse has gone away and is never coming back. Is there a way that I can be creative in my life that might spark my creativity again?
  • I have defined myself as _________ (artist, writer, gardener, teacher) and I don't as much creativity in other areas of my life, but I've always wanted to try _______________ (new creative pursuit.)

After reflecting on the questions, I encourage you to follow through with your pursuits of creativity. Besides, what do you have to lose? Please share with me what your thoughts are on your muse, your creativity and what challenges you most.
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Happy Mardi Gras 2013!! Wish we were all in NOLA, watching the parades go by, sipping Sazerac cocktails and catching beads!

9 comments:

  1. I haven't been sketching or painting much lately either - I've been sewing a lot instead. I've never really identified my "muse" the way you have with Sam, but I was glad to read that you know that Sam is you and you are Sam.

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  2. The third question resonated with me: I've identified myself as a writer, and I don't think of myself as using creativity (or being able to use creativity) in other areas of my life. I don't think of myself as an artist, even though I sketch and paint sometimes. I think what that has done is put too much pressure on the writing to fulfill all my creative needs, and that's simply too much pressure for it! You've encouraged me to actively seek mores outlets for creativity--and that sounds like a whole lot of fun.

    Great post!

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  3. You are able to express yourself so well with words. I have no doubt that writing would come easily to you. I can't wait to read some of your stories, if you decide to share them of course. Have fun.

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  4. You want to know how low the feeling of a leaving creativity can feel? Nine years ago I folk-art painted some stools for my dad's birthday present (a Minnesota farm on one and the lighthouse at Point Loma on the other). Well dad is gone, I have the stools but the green base color no longer goes in the new house we have so yesterday I bought some black enamel paint and today I decided was the day to simply paint black where the green had been, leaving the painted tops alone. Easy, peasy right? I panicked! What if I dribbled some paint where it didn't belong? What if the brush flicked out of my hand and landed on my new rug? I was AFRAID to paint even a base color. My eyes are giving me fits and it was hard to see where I'd hit or I'd missed. Talk about feeling like my creativity had gone walk-about! So far nothing bad has happened and tonight I'll turn the stools right side up to take care of the edge near the picture portion and any missed spots. Being away from painting and other crafts is leaving me feeling like I can't do any of them so doing these stools was really good for me even though it did cause me to panic.

    I am decorating my house so I am being somewhat creative but it isn't helping me keep my skills going and that makes me feel bad. That's what I need to work on (not sure which of your questions this all fits best).

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  5. Interesting hearing you speak of enjoying a bit of writing lately. I too started getting interested in writing for pleasure last fall. I even signed up for a one month online writing class - w/short prompts. My recent blog post about my broken spatula was an attempt to lighten up my writing a bit more. I've got another idea for a sketch and opportunity for a bit of writing in my head. Maybe this week...

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  6. I think you already know, Laure, that my muse does its darndest to pull me this way and that. When I was young I had too many muses .. serious painting, painting on old bark and dried mushrooms, knitting, sewing, even leatherwork. Finally I slapped my hands and said to myself I'll never get good at one if I try to do everything. .... so I concentrated on serious art and a little knitting. Only writing has also somehow slipped in.

    I think creativity leads to creativity ... and often a change is what we need to freshen up life. ... as long as it is good change and not technology wars or some such thing.

    So have fun writing. Your blog tell me that you have a way with words. It sounds as though you are tackling some writing very different from your blog. .... Should that wear thin, you have a lot to say about art ... thinking about art ... muses .... inspiration .... I'm sure you have a book about that tucked in there somewhere should Sam want to let it out.

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  7. Wow great "thought provoking" post! I need identify my muse (if I have one!). Based on this post, I'm sure I do because she's abandoned me since I got back from vacation! I believe she hates the stresses of my job and would prefer spending her time being creative too! I say go for keeping your muse happy...look how far you got when you did the first time around!

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  8. I, too, have not painted in about a year. In 2011 I took every online class Laure offered. The painting helped me so much with dealing with the stress of caring for my mother in her long decline.

    Unfortunately when the classes stopped, I stopped. Then when they started up again in 2012, I was not able to start up with them.

    I have started writing though. Not the kind where you sit down and write and write. More the recording of thoughts, ideas, memories and feelings. Helps to get the flow going. I hope I do more as time goes on.

    I have been doing a lot of sewing, quilting, silk ribbon embroidery and working with lots of new materials. But I miss the painting. I hope Laure starts up classes again and that I can start up again, too.

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  9. For almost two years my muse seemed to have left me. I hate it when that happens!! But, slowly the desire to paint has returned but not self confidence.

    I began to draw and paint on 5 X 7 pieces of watercolor paper, no big deal if I mess up, and slowly but surely, I've finished my first painting since last year.

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