Where Art Thou, Art?

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Source: Google Images/sclance.com

I was right.

That Saturn Opposition Moon kicking my butt through November? Evidently it’s an opportunity (though inconvenient, as usual) provided by the Universe for me to get off my butt and make art. Write more, paint more, create, create, create. On a whim, I recently sat down with a reader, Debra, who used Tarot, Numerology, and palm reading to give me some perspective. She validated and reinforced that I have an opportunity, in the midst of a difficult and emotionally charged personal crisis (yep, another one, sheesh), to create whenever I have free time. She explained how my parents set me up to be someone else (and it’s NOT working, I’ll tell you that)…and maybe yours did, too.

Debra also told me that selling/sales (my current gig) is the ‘lowest form’ of vibration and I should be doing the higher form, which is making and selling my art, possibly even starting my own company. Hmmm…seem to remember that Redbubble site, with some of my artwork on it, not doing so well (maybe the wrong format, is all). But I get what she’s saying…I’m under-selling my skills, my art and myself by not actively creating.

Are you guilty of this as well? How many of you are following your true path? How many of you are following a path set by your parents (and their best intentions for wanting us to succeed according to how they defined success)? Artists, painters, writers, and such didn’t raise us all. Most of us were raised by parents who set us on that conformist path of ‘success’: college (Bachelor’s), then more college (MBA), then off to a swanky white collar job that is sure to suck the life out of anyone with even a hint of creativity because we were taught that art is NOT a way to earn a living, that art is NOT for serious-minded folks.

Hmmm…

No wonder there’s so much unhappiness in the world. We’re living false lives. We’ve been deluded into believing there isn’t a place for our art, so we trudge on to the respectable, reliable job to pay the bills and bury the artsy stuff in a box in the back of the closet behind an outfit that hasn’t been worn in three years.

The tricky part is getting back on track after being off that track for so damn long. If you veered off your artistic course, what did you do to get back to your calling? What did you risk? What did you lose or gain?

Saw a sign somewhere today…it read:

“Success isn’t the road to happiness. Happiness is the road to success.” (Buddha)

Happiness in the form of creating our art, perhaps?

 

Breaking News: You Don’t Need Permission to WRITE/PAINT/DANCE/LIVE CREATIVELY

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Source: Google Images/Art Inspirations by Debra at passthefeather.org

Big Magic

I recently finished (with much sadness, it was such a wonderful read) Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic (she wrote the delightful book Eat, Pray, Love). Basically it’s about the magic of inspiration, the freedom to create without another’s permission, and the magic of living a creative life. I devoured each chapter, dog-earing so many pages it looks more like an accordion than a book!

Somewhere along the way, like she writes in the book, I got it all wrong. I believed, wholeheartedly, that I needed the RIGHT desk/workspace/ideas/inspiration/subject, etc. to go ahead and begin creating. That I needed someone to tell me that what I was doing – actually, creating – was okay. I needed permission to create.

Turns out I’ve been creating all my life. I still have sketches from grade and high school (but I stupidly got rid of my oil  and acrylic paintings because I thought they weren’t good enough to show anyone) and a few poems I wrote. I re-discovered them while cleaning out a box during one of my many moves to another new place a few years back. (And I still keep them tucked away, out of sight, for some unknown reason.)

sigh…

Don’t Be Afraid

Then I reached the “You’re Afraid” chapter and found many of the same excuses I’ve used over the years to not create. Let’s see if you find yourself in any of these (there were many more but I think you’ll get the gist):

  1. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or – worst of all – ignored.
  2. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
  3. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
  4. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. (You know, you’re not original enough…)
  5. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
  6. You’re afraid you don’t have the ‘right’ [quotes added] kind of work space, or financial freedom or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. (This was and has always been one of my lamest excuses for not creating something. That I was always so sensitive to my artistic environment; that the ‘wrong’ time or place or direction I faced with my desk would surely ruin any chances of creating something GREAT that would be enjoyed by ALL; that without all of the ‘right’ things necessary to SUCCEED I would, after all, definitely FAIL.)
  7. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. (It must be my fault – since I couldn’t get the setting ‘just right’ and now I’m doomed to never create again. Hurrumph.)
  8. You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder.
  9. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder.

And so on….

You Don’t Need Permission, After All

But here’s the BEST part, the REVELATION that so many of us (especially me) need to hear (more than once,obviously):

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life. Maybe your parents were rule-followers or too busy being melancholic depressives, or addicts, or abusers to ever use their imaginations toward creativity. Maybe they weren’t makers…maybe just pure consumers. Maybe you grew up in an environment where people just sat around watching TV and waiting for stuff to happen to them.”

This was my childhood: mom and dad plunked in front of the TV at the end of exhausting days of housework [mom] and construction [dad], smoking cigarettes and barely speaking to each other (or us) while watching variety shows or sitcoms. Art was what hung on someone else’s walls (our living room was decorated with my parents bowling trophies, including the back end of a donkey for my dad’s team coming in last place); I certainly wasn’t encouraged to follow that road. Go to college. Get a job. Those were my parents’ mantras all through school. How on earth could I escape that fate? I’m still struggling to make room for creativity, to give myself PERMISSION to create WHATEVER I want to create, regardless of what you or whoever thinks about it. My sister was even more talented than me and she, too, was forced to become a square peg in a round hole, to abandon all artistic dreams for a future where putting bread on the table was the most important (and only) thing one could do with one’s life. It was the sensible thing to do, after all, right? (sneer)

“You want to write a book? Make a song? Learn a dance? Draw a penis on your wall? Do it. Who cares? Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you.” 

In other words, stop worrying what others will think; you don’t need their permission or approval; just create, damn it! And damn anyone who believes differently! Because, in the end, it’s all just creativity. So it really doesn’t matter all that much. Get it?

Good.

Entitlement (the right kind)

That said, you need to understand the concept of entitlement – not the narcissistic American ‘I-deserve-everything-I-want‘ kind of entitlement but the kind of entitlement that lets you live freely with your creativity intact:

“… in order to live this way – free to create, free to explore – you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement… Creative entitlement simply  means believing that you are allowed to be here and that – merely by being here – you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

A Final Word

These are two of my favorites from the book – because they’re true, no matter what anyone says:

“Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable (food, shelter, medicine, rule of law, social order, familial responsibility, death, taxes, etc.). Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting… a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.”

This is a woman deeply in love with her creativity. This is a woman who knows she is FREE to create without boundaries, permissions, critiques, etc. This is the kind of person I aspire to become and after reading her book, I know I am several steps closer to the clarity that I am FREE TO CREATE simply because I MUST CREATE. Because it’s who I AM.

“You can live a long life, making and doing really cool things the entire time. You might earn a living with your pursuits or you might not, but you can recognize that this is not really the point. And at the end of your days, you can thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting, passionate existence.”

Amen, sister.

So get out there, folks, and create SOMETHING.

I dare you.

Jolt of Inspiration

the world is my canvas

It all started out as a nice dinner and conversation between friends. Actually, we’ve been work associates for the past two years and found we have some common interests. I had a spur-of-the-moment idea during one of my store visits, so I invited him to have dinner with me to celebrate my recent good fortune (see Quit It! blog). Turns out my friend is what I call a ‘costumer’; he makes amazing costumes (Halloween, Sci-fi conventions, etc.) by hand when he’s not working his day job. He brought along some pictures and I was in awe of his talent – and the pricing he gets for each commission (but if you think about all the planning and work that actually goes into each commission, it makes sense he should earn well). He pays great attention to detail, which is probably why his finished pieces and whole outfits are so outstanding.

I told him of my creative endeavors: writing, sketching, painting, working with multiple mediums (ink, watercolor, Sumi-e, & origami, for example) and that I’m tired of living the ‘square-peg-in-round-hole’ life, and how I desire to touch base again with the artist in me. He listened with enthusiasm and support, and told me of his circle of artist friends that he’d like me to meet. I gave him a free bookmark for this website and said I would forward some samples of my art. He then expressed interest in me helping him part-time with his costume work. While I’m not the stitcher my mother was, I told him, I was certainly interested in the painting, coloring, and working with fabric options. He has multiple commissions going at any given time (up to five or more) and has reached the point where he needs people to assist him with his projects (he’s already training a roommate, who is catching on quickly).

I can’t help but feel a jolt of excitement and inspiration; the anticipation alone will drive me crazy, since we won’t make any decisions about my coming on board until after I’ve returned from my extended vacation to Italy (pasta! art! wine!). Regardless of the outcome, it felt so good to talk with someone who understands that need to CREATE, no matter what. Do you feel this way? Do you see colors and shapes everywhere in your world? Are clouds more than billowy weather formations for you? Do you hear stories in mundane conversations at work, in a cafe, or at the laundromat? This is the hallmark of a ‘creative’ – someone who MUST create SOMETHING, simply for the sake of the creating itself, as an outlet for all of your mind’s meanderings around the universe. I get that many of us can’t quit our day jobs but if you can find a way to include creating in your daily life, you may get there just yet. (Starving artist, my ass.)

Let your motto be:

I CREATE. 

[It’s mine. :)]