The purpose in art is frequently directed toward the rational, the brain. Many artists seek ways to make the meaning clear so that others may discern the intent. The purpose is for people to appreciate the art because they have grasped the meaning. They “get it!” There is a sense of justification when that understanding is communicated. But what if art is created that does not have an outward but rather an inward meaning? What if people don’t “get it” but don’t care either?
When art is focused on the rational so people, “get it” and intellect kicks in, the heart is left out in the cold. “The approach of reasoning and ‘Rational’ debate has eclipsed the ‘heart’ approach,” says Father Brad Mathias of Four Winds Anglican Mission and RoadTripParenting. Engage the brain, lose the heart in a manner of speaking. The heart eclipsed is left in darkness. Art that seeks to enlighten the thinking leaves feeling untouched. Which is more memorable, art that enlightens the brain or art that touches the heart?
The rational art of the brain is so bleak, so heartless. Brain art is without feeling, cold, untouchable, like a beautiful flower incased in glass, forever distant and separate. Why leave the heart out? Is the brain really that important? Let the heart eclipse the brain instead and who cares if people, “get it?” They’ll be “feeling it” and that’s all that matters.
“Its important to keep the eccentric spirit alive, because when that goes, the work will go.” Nicolas Cage (from The Painter’s Keys)
Do all creative people have eccentricities that stimulate the creative juices? Some artists have elaborate routines they must go through before they can create. To others it may be as simple as always starting a painting with a particular brush, or drawing with a particular pencil. Some writers have the computer in a particular location or must always have a particular beverage at hand. The list could go on and on. Is this simple eccentricity or is it something more?
The website 99u.com has two recent articles (here and here) on the creative process and mundane routines. According to writer and professional creative coach, Mark McGuiness, these mundane routines are what actually may be the trigger for the creative juices to start flowing. McGuiness, a trained hypnotist, believes the routines artists go through before beginning work may be setting up what he calls a hypnotic trigger. The more often the artist performs the routine the more intense the trigger becomes. The articles give a number of examples from famous creative people, like Truman Capote and Ingmar Bergman.
Many people think of artistic types as just a little bit crazy likely because of a lack of understanding of the process of creativity. All those sly little remarks about artists and their eccentricities are obviously from people not “in the know.” Perhaps they should be enlightened. Better yet, keep it a secret. It adds to the idea of the artist’s mystique. Who doesn’t want a bit of the mystique hanging around? So crank up those eccentricities. The work just may depend on it.
“Often the muse will not respond to direct and logical requests. She must be lured in with the playful and the gentle.” Jill Badonsky (from The Painter’s Keys)
One of the most painful issues for anyone in the arts is the feeling that the muse has gone. All inspiration has dried up. The art is continuing but with a lack of passion. Only the motions are taking place. Creativity is proceeding on automatic pilot. This is the moment when many artists ponder succumbing to panic. Will art remain forever in a state of mechanical practice? Will those exhilarating feelings of profound inspiration ever return? Can the muse be lured back?
Point one is not to panic. Panic will only compound everything. Waiting for Fairies.com says, “My muse is a fickle creature. She dresses in moonlight and shadows and lives quietly in a forest glade, far from the reach of mortal thought.” Waiting for Fairies suggests that on occasion the muse “can be lured out with the promise of chocolate, or a new toy to play with.” Chocolate relieves many problems, including panic. Muses probably crave chocolate as much as the rest of us. Definitely, worth a try if all else fails.
The author of SpillingInk.com suggests those moments of heady oneness with the muse are the rarity and states that for her, writing is “as much business as it is art.” “None of that luring the muse nonsense,” will work. Art as business does not stop and start on the whims of a fickle muse. Art must carry on with or without the muse. When muse is present, rejoice and enjoy the moment. The rest of the time, continue making art. The show must go on, with or without the muse.
When feeling the lack of the elusive muse, there are two possible options to be tried. First, go for bribery. Chocolate is an appealing allurement. It is a well-known fact that much fickleness is cured with chocolate. However if the muse is particularly stubborn, and you aren’t in the mood for bribery, forget the muse. Drive the train without her. Like Spring, she’ll come back when she’s ready. In the meantime, eat the chocolate yourself. If nothing else, you’ll feel better.
Is there a numeric formula to art, conscious or unconscious? Possibly. Having never thought much about this idea, I am going back to look at paintings to see if I do it unconsciously. As I operate mainly in the right brain and don’t think much about left brain activity like numbers or numeric formulas, I would have to have done it unconsciously! It will be interesting to see if it happened accidentally. I would love to know if others find this happening in their art, consciously or unconsciously.
Do we, as artists, reveal to the world what there is around us to be grateful for? We see, hear, and feel the beauty that may be missed by others, especially those caught up in the rat race of the busyness of life. For myself, I forget to approach each canvas as an opportunity to express gratitude for the beauty I see. When searching for inspiration, perhaps the best beginning is to start with an expression of gratitude for the good fortune of artistic creativity.
New research is proving that the best way to get the creative juices flowing is regular participation in exercise. Making time for a regular walk may be just the ticket to new inspiration. Walking clears the head and starts the flow of endorphins. Everybody loves endorphins. Endorphins are those hormones that people dream of having more of. Endorphins are happy hormones! For more endorphins, get up and get moving.
The Telegraph has the story (here). Research recently published in Frontiers in Neuroscience reveals people who exercise regularly are able to perform better on cognitive tests. However, the findings also showed that going for a onetime bout of strenuous exercise won’t do it and may actually make things worse. The point is to exercise on a regular basis. The researchers recommend regular exercise at least four times a week.
Taking a look at what other artists are doing for inspiration will likely reveal that many participate in regular exercise. If not into regular exercise, now is a good time to start. Just don’t overdo it in the beginning. Make a plan to get into the habit of walking or running regularly. If already into walking or running and not finding inspiration it may be time to mix it up a bit. If the weather doesn’t permit an outdoor walk or run and the treadmill is the only option, go to the beach in the imagination.
Hanging a photo of the beach up in front of the treadmill can enable the mind to go there. Each step on the treadmill can be imagined as sinking into the sand along the water’s edge. Feel the water on bare feet. Smell the salt in the air. Hear the waves as they crash bringing fresh inspiration on the tide. Every crash of the wave is new inspiration flowing into the soul. With each step along the imagined beach, more endorphins will flow. As the endorphins flow, so do the creative juices. So what are you waiting for? Get walking!
“The Muse visits during the act of creation., not before Don’t wait for her. Start alone.” Roger Ebert
It’s been a long week and you are counting on having some time to create art this week-end. You are pumped, you are ready, all your supplies out, then… nothing. A big fat nothing! The Muse has left the building. Major bummer! All the planning to have this time and the inspiration has dried up. All dressed up and nowhere to go. What now?
In Twelve Steps to Stay Inspired the authors have some great ideas such as get outside, go looking for inspiration. If the Muse is gone, go looking for where she went. Do some searching in a park or the shopping mall. Drop in to a local tourist site and mingle with the tourists. Seeing things through the eyes of the tourists may change your perspective.
Listening to dreams is on Artpromotivate’s list of 20 Art Inspiration Ideas for Creativity. That is an interesting one. Can you remember what dreams you had last night? Were you too tired from the week before to even have dreams? If not what was the last memorable dream you did have? Write it down. Sketch it. Think about its meaning. See if there might be some sparks lurking down in your dreams ready to light some fire. Hopefully, you haven’t had any nightmares recently. Or maybe you have!
Smashing Magazine says if you have a regular “go to” place for inspiration, change it up. Go somewhere different. ArtistsInspireArtists.com suggests a look into what other artists are doing. Find inspiration from your peers. See what is inspiring them.
If all else fails, go to the studio and make some marks. Any marks. Taking the steps may bring out the rest. The effort will, hopefully, start to take shape. Sometimes the best things happen when feeling lost in the drought. The defenses are down and feelings dejected. You never know. There just might be a pleasant surprise waiting to show up on the canvas, paper, etc. Something wonderful may grow out of the wasteland!