Friday, January 19, 2007

Musings on the nature of creativity

The creative process is unique to each artist—as unique as the artist herself and each and every work that she brings into being. In its purest sense, creating a work of art is truly akin to giving birth to a child--it is no coincidence that both are termed “acts of creation”. Despite a penchant for introspection, my own creativity remained relatively unexplored until I reconfirmed creativity and art as central to my life and well-being.

I have wondered long about the creative process. At times it flows so freely and easily and you are on fire to record what is passing through your mind and spirit though the flesh may be tired, hungry or otherwise weak. At other times, a beautiful, fully formed but dimly recognized idea is present, but it seems to be a breech presentation and so refuses to be birthed on its own. Such an idea may very well die for want of skilled intervention, either on the part of the artist or her mentor. The artist and her mentor must work to gently turn the unseen idea this way and that until it is unstuck and ready to be seen in this world. For me, these unborn ideas often need to gestate longer than others—perhaps waiting for a key image or concept that is yet to come and be united with the embryonic art as yet to be . At times, the unborn ideas--my spiritual children, after all--will be reabsorbed into my consciousness, my spirit, my soul , to be reborn as other ideas, other works of art, other children of my spirit , whether recognized or not.

But what about this process, this conduit that the idea flows through on its multi-dimensional path to earthly manifestation? This has long appeared both mysterious and mystical to me. A miracle every time it happens, not to be discounted. Almost, I thought, the very act of examining it too closely could kill it; leading to the destruction of the precious conduit forever. And what a loss that would be—how could I be other than what I am now and always have been: creative, eager to make, to touch, to feel this or that be built from lesser materials, from nothing from this magical idea within me. But I now think that examining and understanding this process can do no harm, indeed, can only make the process less tenuous, less haphazard and more secure, vibrant and full-bodied. Truly, some artists have achieved this strengthening of the creative conduit with the result that their work often seems effortless to the uninitiated.

When I was younger, I read the writings of Carlos Castaneda as he attempted to record and learn the ways of the brujo from his mentor, Don Juan. So much of the way was lost to Carlos who did not initially have the ears to hear or the eyes to see. Gradually he developed those ears and eyes under the ever-patient tutelage of Don Juan.

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