What is creativity? If I listen to the popular notions surrounding the expressive energy we all possess, I'd come to the conclusion that it's about 'making stuff'. And in today's heavily marketed atmosphere it's mostly about putting bits and pieces of stuff from craft stores or junk shops together in a fashion or style after someone else...someone whose gotten recognition and now offers a line of products or 'how to' classes, books or videos. Scrapbooking, card making, altered this or that. It's about tools that can die cut everything for us or mass produced stamps we can ink up and play with like school children in art class. I'm not knocking this. If ya enjoy it and it gives you pleasure, great! I just don't want to confuse replication with creativity. Reconfiguring patterns someone else designed may be fun and may turn out beautiful, but is it creative? This is something only you can answer for yourself. As for me, the term creativity encompasses a whole new level of awareness.
In my mind and in my heart, creativity is original, inspired (coming from spirit) not mimicked. It takes me on a journey and literally in-forms me through expression. Sometimes subtly and sometimes with profound insight. The only reason knowing this matters is because when we don't know, we don't have a choice....and choosing is everything! Choice is the basis of my free will. And I have come to realize that true creative energy demands my free will.
Gaining a skill set (several in my case) was and is very important to me as a visual artist. To do this I looked at the work of others, sought out teachers I thought had mastered a certain media, and I even mimicked some of their styles on the way to finding my own creative voice. Eventually my work was my own and I could play with a variety of expressive art forms in oil, watercolor, textiles, clay, etcetera. And while I enjoy working in all of these and setting up original compositions, it's important to me that the work not mimic or, heaven forbid, include the artwork of others somehow cut up and "collaged" together in a fashion they never intended. As a close friend recently said of this kind of 'art', "That's so reptilian!" lol! But even finding my own creative voice/style falls short of the kind of creativity I am writing about in this post.
I am writing about inspired creative energy. Something born purely out of nothing....and everything! Something that carries a message from beyond the artists awareness. Something wanting to be birthed into form. I chose the image for this post from a painting that came to me in the way that I am describing. It was inspired rather than composed in the way I traditionally paint a still life or portrait of an actual person. And with it came a gift, not unlike all the work that has come to me in this way of tuning into to what I call true creative energy.
So, what do I mean by tuning in? For me this happens in a variety of ways. But mind you, I have nurtured what I refer to as Creative Introspection for 30 years, and the awareness I share here is born of that. Sometimes this kind of creativity comes fast and furious and I am either awakened and called to my studio by some stir of energy in the night, (as I shared in my stories blog under the title Creative Intervention) or I can suddenly be urged to drop everything and start writing. I can also initiate it by sitting quietly and opening myself up to it. The painting above came in this way.
One day I simply sat at my easel with my preferred grayscale pallet. For some time I had been looking at portraits by various artists and photographers. I had also recently finished painting a portrait of my grandson and one of my husband, so I wasn't surprised by the stirring to paint another. What did surprise me was the one that came through. With every stroke I had no idea where she was coming from or going. I was simply the instrument holding the brush as she was being painted before me. My skill set and abilities were also being exercised by this creative energy but my mind was free to watch and marvel at the unfolding imagery. Nothing inside me was making mental decisions or engaged in 'figuring anything out'. I was free to follow the inspiration where it led, without planning. With absolute wonder the portrait emerged. Over the next few days she became more and more refined but by the end of the first sitting she was largely complete. Her headdress and the rams horns were a complete surprise. And I loved them! Her furry cloak wasn't even a technique I had ever heard of or tried. I just watched as I applied it. This is how I define creativity. The co-operative interaction between MY physical aspect in form and my non-physical aspect in spirit....MY local and non-local self in an exchange of energy and form. I stress these aspects of SELF to differentiate between giving oneself over to ANOTHER! This is not that! This is recognizing we are indeed more than meets the eye, literally! And tapping into the 'more' of us that is our spiritual aspect, births true creativity. It is the bridging of 'heaven and earth'...bringing consciousness into form. At least this is what my integration has revealed to me. And while I still execute the majority of my artwork from a traditional perspective of planning and composing, nothing compares to the pieces born of this magical melding of body and soul.
So, what did she come to express? This ram horned, shamanic woman? Well, that will have to be a sharing for the next post as this one has gotten rather lengthy. I'll post her portrait there as well so it's easy to find. It is a revelation that shows how creative energy can come through one person to touch or even heal another.