“The unexamined life is not worth living” ~ Socrates
For one whole year I did not eat anything I did not cook or prepare myself, or that someone else did not cook at home for me. For another whole year I did not buy any new clothes (except shoes and undies). Instead, I used what I already had, or made all my wearables myself, or bought secondhand and adjusted these items to suit me. And for yet another whole year, I made my own soap and body care products. I mixed my own cosmetics, and produced my own household cleaners and bought not one of these ready made items from the store.
Why am I mentioning the above, and what does it have to do with art and creativity?
I have heard many visual artists like myself say that in order to make good work, you must really see what’s around you. Notice the small things, like how shadows from leaves on a tree dance on the ground, or how light ripples on ocean waves. That you must learn to find the subtleties of colour and the lines and shapes buildings make in a landscape. Or notice how people sit, stand, walk, and gesture so that you can make better art. But for me, I need more. My creative juices aren’t only brought about by observing. For me, in order to continue to be in flow and make good art, I must move, take action and do. I must live a creative life in order to be creative in my work.
In a previous post I wrote was about asking the question, “What if”? It was essentially a post that talked about my belief that curiosity is essential to being creative and being an artist. And in my very first post, I talked about my road back to creativity and how it was a long journey with starts, stops and more than a few wrong turns. Well, that path, though meandering, was a very interesting one indeed. One that prompted me to be curious, to question and explore. It made me think of what I truly believed in and wanted. It made me aware of my values which made me take action, even if the actions were often considered odd. The above are just 3 examples of small experiments I decided to undertake because I was looking for what and who I wanted to be in the world. (And yes, if you want to know, I am concerned about the impact the fashion industry has on our landfills. I believe the best food is slow, homemade food. And because of harmful chemicals in many of our cleaners and cosmetics, I decided to do something to stay away from them as much as I could.) My “What Ifs” caused me to continue and to keep searching for answers, and trying new things to find solutions in my own style.
So, the point of this post? I ask you to examine yourself to realize what kind of things help spark your curiosity. (What kind of ideas or questions make you daydream or keep you up at night?) I put forward the idea that maybe you’re like me, and that you may need to expand your world a little in order to find inspiration. (What gives you the urge to try something new and poke about outside your comfort zone?) That you may need to take action towards the things you care about in order to gain confidence and get those creative juices flowing. (Are there issues or themes that you feel strongly about, and what unique action, small or big, will you do about them?) Perhaps like me, you’ll need to dig a little deeper, do some hard, or silly, things, ask some weird, or uncomfortable questions, and when you find some answers, live them.