Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turning off the inner critic

            I haven’t written anything for the last few days.  Part of it is that I have been really busy getting ready for art shows.  The other issue though is that I am afraid that whatever I write about will not be relevant or interested enough to publish as a blog post.  When I was writing daily entries as a journaling exercise, it was really easy to write.  As soon as I start thinking about other people reading them, though, my inner critic comes on and turns off the flow. 
            This is ironic because I tell students and people in my art show booth booth: CREATIVITY IS ABOUT BEING WILLING TO MAKE MISTAKES!  I firmly believe that developing a high level of skill and expression in any creative endeavor is about practice and being willing to accept that not every work will be a masterpiece right away.  When I am making jewelry, it is very similar.  When I am sitting down to “design a new style,” it is often very difficult.  I will keep working on a project, and it just doesn’t seem to unfold the way I want it to.  When I am “just playing at making jewelry,” very fun new designs often flow effortlessly into being.  I am also almost always happier with the results, when I am approaching art from a less driven perspective.
            It is not always easy to turn a natural and relaxed attitude on.  It is kind of like saying “just feel happy.”  Yes, it is possible to do this, but it is not always an automatic thing.  One thing that I find very helpful is to just try to let go of any expectation or intention and let the creative work unfold as it will.  I will start with a pile of jewelry materials and just start bending, forming, firing, and piecing them together in the way that seems like the best aesthetic and expressive fit in the moment.  Often, I will  surprise myself with a unique theme that I would not necessarily come up with through a more conscious design process.  This is similar to stream of consciousness writing.  Just write whatever comes to mind.  You can always edit later. 
            I think that part of it is that art in any form is like physical exercise.  It will generally improve with training.  These creative exercises not only help with the design process, but I find them helpful simply in terms of learning through trial and error.  In visual art, I also feel like I am literally training my hands to have the muscle memory to create the shapes that I want.  I can have a specific image in my mind, but getting my hands to be able to create it is often a matter of practice. 

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