I haven’t been making time for art. Instead of picking up my brush at night I’ve been escaping to Instagram or Netflix or simply cleaning up my house. The guitar hasn’t sounded sweet enough in my hands, cooking has become a chore, and my concepts on my canvases feel insufficient. My temper’s been short and I haven’t sat with Amelie to collage or draw. To be honest, life has felt very dull these past several days; there’s a low vibration in my body.
When was the last time you were here? Waiting to “feel it”? Creative slumps are such a catch 22; you feel too low to create, but you’re low because you’re not creating. The difficult thing to remember is that art doesn’t need you to do anything except show up, and then it simply flows out. And the slump is a distant memory.
Even though I’m in this sort of depression, I’m familiar with the escape-route. I was fortunate enough to have found my center at a young age: to be familiar with the grounding effects of art-making. My parents “unschooled” me by simply working alongside me, running their businesses, making their art, and answering any questions I had along the way. My mom is an artist and my dad is a jack-of-all-trades, so something was always being made. By being unschooled I basically learned how make art and then sell it. Yet, the most valuable tools I came away with from my unique upbringing were certainly not tools for economic success. They were tools for maintaining emotional wellbeing.
By remembering the lessons clarified below, I’m reminded of the closeness of high-vibrational living via art-making. Contentment is literally at our fingertips.
Creativity for Happiness
Art Shows the Soul
Art makes possible the visualization of the things that previously had no form. The things we feel but have no words for, the dreams we’ve had, subconscious memories. Therapists have children draw to reveal things that can’t be said, because making art allows them to reveal their poetic depths.
Even when a work of art is a totally realistic representation of the world, there is a life-long journey that must be carried out before the idea is sparked within one’s mind. Making art is one of the easiest ways to get to know yourself.
When you’re busy being your own authentic self it’s more difficult to find the time to compare yourself to others. Contentment and acceptance of others begins to replace the comparison and judgement.
Creating Feels Good
The act of creation, be it through art, music, cooking, sewing, photography, or knitting, actually releases dopamine, just like sex, sleeping, and heroin.
I am personally significantly happier when I have several artistic projects going. Luckily for me, my day-job requires me to be creative, so I usually don’t go through withdrawals.
When I first began working in clay I quickly learned that kilns have a way of taking a large chunk of the creative process out of your hands. Sometimes things blow up. Sometimes a glaze comes out thin, or a very different color than anticipated, or it makes your pot fuze to the bottom of the kiln. With more experience you gain control over the outcome of the process, but you still must learn to accept unanticipated outcomes and enjoy the experience of uncertainty. The journey becomes the joy as you detach from the end result.
Detachment doesn’t mean that you don’t give a crap about anything. It means that you can see past the grief of loss and appreciate the greater experience. It also allows you to take more risks and not live in fear of loss or inadequacy. Less fear = more love = happiness!
Each work of art is the direct regurgitation of someone’s reality at that moment in time. Everyone has very specific associations related to their 5 senses that is never replicated, so a resulting work of art is a true snapshot of the soul.
When critiquing someone else’s art it is easy to see its surface-value… yet, to remember that the finished product is the product of someone’s unique experience is very humbling. When a landscape is painted from observation, a photo, or the imagination, no one will ever replicate it.
Respecting that we are all having different experiences allows us to acknowledge the value of our selves. This not only encourages compassion for ourselves, but for those around us. It’s harder to take things personally, and it’s easier to let go of the things we don’t understand.
Personal Responsibility & Taking Control
A mistake within a work of art can be “fixed” 99% of the time. Sometimes “fixing” the “mistake” involves completely changing the direction in which the work was initially headed, but art never has one answer.
When this mentality seeps into daily life we are inspired to take action and change the things that no longer serve us. Many people feel that they are a victim of bad luck and circumstance, but the creative knows that there are infinite possibilities to try and experiment with to manipulate time & space in order to manifest a reality worth living.
Centeredness & Meditation
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dedicates his life to studying what makes people happy. In his his Ted Talk below he explains that activities that bring out a state of “flow” not only provide momentary pleasure, but lasting satisfaction.
“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” – Csikszentmihalyi
Flow, or the act of creation, produces effects within the body that are similar to Meditation. Science has shown that meditation can, among other things, reduce stress and fight/flight responses.
Meditation is a practice that reminds your body, mind and spirit what it feels like to come back to the middle. If you remember what the center feels like, it’s easier to return there when you are confronted with stressful or obnoxious situations.
Create this July
In an effort to experience the positive effects of art-making as a community, this month we challenge you to take creation into your daily life with us. Each day, try to spend at least a few minutes on something creative.
Here’s a list of 30 non-committal projects to inspire, in no particular order:
- Doodle your family members as animals
- Start an art journal
- Crochet x-mas presents
- Paint your emotions
- Make a puzzle & send it to someone small
- Instagram artistically
- Make outdoor art
- Make co okies without a recipe
- Write a poem to your bestie
- Color in a coloring book
- Make Shrinky Dink earrings for all your ladies
- Learn how to do nail art
- Build a rock wall
- Learn to play the harmonica
- Take a photo per day of yourself or your kids
- Draw your bedroom
- Arrange a bouquet of flowers
- Write new kid song lyrics to a pop song
- Learn to embroider
- Choreograph a dance to Spice Up Your Life with your niece
- Find an ecstatic dance venue and go
- Make prayer flags
- Dress up for the 4th of July
- Carve potatoes into stamps: design your own textiles
- Sit down with your favorite little and scribble as fast as you can, with as many different colored pens as you can, covering as much white of the paper as you can within 3 minutes
- Make your own memory card game
- Paint rocks. Or sticks. Or both.
- Collect like-objects, style them on the floor, and take a picture.
- Get some Model Magic and go wild
- Make a flower garland
An Instagram Challenge
If you would like to join us on Instagram (and/or Facebook), we are moving into July with a daily-inspiration list that is so vague that you can make each day work for you within your means. Take a photo (or lots) of what you’ve been working on and tag #SCcreatejuly to share with us! It doesn’t have to be related to our list, we just want to see what you’ve made.