Monday, February 26, 2007

More history, musings on "inspiration" and creativity in general

As my years flowed, I continued to create; in small ways, usually. Like breathing, it is not something in my control to stop permanently. I may well hold my breath for a time but I must then inhale deeply to compensate. So too, with my art—for a few years when my children were young and demanded constant attention, I held my artistic breath. This was as it should be, of course. As they grew older, art beckoned to me, gently at first and then insistently, to renew our sacred relationship.

Older, and perhaps a little wiser about the ways of the world and ways of my soul, I began the dance with art once more. I had learned, and continue to learn, that a suppression of my words, emotions and desires inevitably leads to a mortal wounding of my body, my sense of self-worth, my very soul and of course, my art.

As I became freer both internally and externally and I began to create art regularly once more, I began to meditate about the process of creation—what some people call “inspiration”. Ah…inspiration. A work is “inspired”, artists have a brilliant “inspiration”. Just as easily, artists lose their inspiration as a result of a rude interruption or merely an inopportune moment. Artists complain of being “blocked”; that is, something (what?) is literally stemming the flow of inspiration.

“Muse” is another word fraught with meaning for artists. Artists often term certain people or settings as their muse. Such a designation is usually deemed to be profoundly personal for the artist—only one artist per muse, please. The muse facilitates, eases or even increases the creative flow. Other artists create works or portrayals of their muse. Is this the same muse function?

I have often felt that a work is fully formed inside of me, much like a child in the womb that must be birthed by my skill and my actions. There is an exquisite urgency that I feel when this is the case, a burning fire to create—create now with little thought of worldly concerns or demands. It is truly a birthing process. At other times there is no fully formed work struggling for emergence from the internal universe, perhaps only a vague idea or a desire on my part to use the tools of creation that are so familiar and comforting to me. Magically, a work of power and significance is still born—how can this be so? If it was not already fully formed, how did it become so in the making, in the doing of it? How can both types of creation process yield the same result? Or are the works truly the same; is the work produced by the a priori process superior in some way? If so, how? Why is it sometimes one process and then the other? Is one process inherently “better” or superior to the other? Or are all creative processes equal?

I will not be coy and imply that all of my works are powerful and significant—all too often a work results that is not successful in some way. Most often such a work is the product of the latter type of process, a kind of psychic and artistic “garbage in, garbage out”.

This was not a new concept for me to cogitate upon—I had often mused about it and its nature for me and others during earlier years while taking art classes as an undergraduate and working on various narrowly defined assignments with a varying degree of success. I came to no conclusion at the time. I had a vague perception that I was perhaps not considering all of the variables or issues involved but could make no headway in identifying those variables. Thus, I finally left my musings as unsolvable and ultimately unprofitable. But the questions remained; the curiosity did not kill the cat, the cat just curled up and took a nap as cats so often do.