Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dreams of Isolation vs. Creative Reality

The other day after many hours of toiling at my desk on the computer listening to music from my ipod, I decided to reward myself with a brief distraction on my way home from work. I stopped at a used book store to rummage through the art, poetry and fiction sections. You never know what you will find at a used bookstore. Humming Warren Zevon’s song Splendid Isolation, which had played as I worked earlier that day, I scanned the books in the stacks.
As I mumbled “I want to live alone in the desert, I want to be like Georgia O’Keefe, I want to live on the upper east side and never go down in the street… Splendid Isolation, I don’t need no one….” my eyes came to O'Keeffe and Texas by Sharyn R. Udall. Periodically I imagine what it would be like to run away to some deserted place and leave behind all my present “distractions”. It’s a nice illusion anyway, one which for me often attaches itself to artists like O’Keefe.
Just a row or two over I came to Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff. Known for his work on creative art therapies, McNiff writes about creativity for everyone in everyday life. This book was quite a reality check in comparison to my dream above. Blatantly challenging the idea that one need locate art in a distant place far removed from daily/ordinary life, he works from the concept that creation is a process which makes use of all our experiences (even those “distractions” I want to run away from). This book addresses those things we are all so familiar with mistakes, the blank page, repetition, creative blocks and working with what you have. Although we may address these things daily, reading about them brings to our consciences those simple truths we so often forget. Weather we deny them as I often hear so many do when the say “well I just not creative” or simple forget, it is the simple things which often hinder our ability to stretch our creativity. For this reason, reading books like Trust the Process can often be so helpful. Not to teach us something entirely new but to remind us of what we already intrinsically know, somewhere deep down, and have just forgotten or simple denied.
“Everything that we perceive and feel
potentially contributes to the creative vision” - Shaun McNiff


Deb G said...

_Trust the Process_ looks interesting. I've been reading and thinking about creativity a lot lately. I recently read one of Julia Cameron's books and had the same feeling your describing. It was a good reminder of many things that I believe.

H. Buchholz said...

I used to think that I was that person, I had the romantic notion of living "away from it all" in the middle of nowhere with my paints and no distractions. I still love the idea but, having tried it once (my husband and I, for 3 years in the middle of north dakota, pre-parenthood) I found that it just wasn't me. I'll be forever glad that I did it but, it turned out to just be one of those "grass is always greener" things.