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!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Luring A Muse

Sunken Gardens Full Spread
Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook
11 x 8.5 inches
watercolor and ink
How To Lure Your Muse*
1. Purchase a toy your muse wants. The more she wants the toy, the better your chances of luring her back. This can be any kind of art supply—sketchbook, tube of paint or brush. Interactive toys seem to work best.
2. Go some place for fun and turn your muse loose. Note: the place must be some place your muse will have fun regardless of cost, convenience, appropriateness. If your muse is bored, it won't work.
3. Mix well and play! Engage, explore, set aside expectations of perfection, greatness, and just have as much fun as you and your muse know how to have.
Close up
If you've been around Painted Thoughts Blog very long you've heard me talk about Sam, my muse. Sam is a party girl. She likes to have fun. She's not interested in the day-to-day details. She refuses to do anything mundane unless she can find a way to make it fun. The funner the better.

Just because she's a party girl, don't mistake her for a lightweight. Her position is quite clear when it comes to having fun.

She is not in the least bit apologetic for this attitude. If it's not fun, she's not going to do. If she can't find a way to make it fun, she's gonna walk.

Sam walked out on me back in November. And I can't say as I blamed her.

She was sick of web sites, business management, and accountant stuff. It wasn't fun. I wouldn't let her draw in the margins or on any important papers. Solving problems in a methodical, linear style is the antithesis of having fun for Sam.
Close Up
She solves my problems on a daily basis, but through leaps of logic, jumps of intuition and swirls of magic. She's has a highly concentrated form of mojo that's extremely addictive so she uses it sparingly.

But when she's had enough of me not having fun, of saying no, of doing activities that bore her to death, she leaves. Goes on a walkabout. And she only comes back when she's damn good and ready and not a minute before.

However, I found over the years, that certain things make her more inclined to come back sooner. And one of them is a fun new art toy, like a new Stillman & Birn sketchbook, and going to someplace that offers her the chance to do something fun, learn something new and that challenges her in some way.

Then she smiles and lights my life up. It's a wondrous thing when your muse is happy. It means you're happy.
Close up
These are the first sketches I've done in a brand new Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook. I gotta tell you I LOVE IT!! I'll do a more complete review of it when I get more work done in it, but for now I'm having an absolute blast with it. Treat yourself—your muse will love you!!

These sketches were all done on location at Sunken Gardens, located in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Color was added later—there's too many fun things to do in St. Pete!) My partner in adventure, Kathy, from over at Catching Happiness, also did a post on our day. You can read about it here. It was a fabulous, fun day, and I think Sam just might be back to stay for a while!

*Does not work for all muses.