Courage and Creativity: Clashing on the Journey

Being an artist takes courage. To really get into the deep muck of being an artist you have to conquer your fears and allow yourself to be put out there—by your own doing. You have to grapple with challenging the conventions of normalcy. The creative process might involve the sometimes brutal slamming together of unknowing, wallowing, passion, apathy, indolence, depression, confusion, genius, inspiration, method, fear, nausea, light-headedness, and this insistent pounding from within to create something.

When you feel this drive in your belly to create something it pushes, pushes, pushes. Sometimes the process is less obnoxious—your muse might pop into your head with a quiet little ray of sunshine—it’s quieter, but not necessarily less insistent.

Once you acquiesce and give in to the insistence of this drive, you can be sucked into discussions you don’t want to have with yourself, and crammed into rooms in your head you don’t want to visit. And yet, there you are. It can pull you down a staircase and through a crowd of ideas that seem oh-so-easy-to-solve and past those off-the-shelf solutions and onto the bare stage of confronting the reality that you have no idea how you are going to solve this creative dilemma.

Confidence and lack of confidence show themselves with wild abandon in your work. Independent of your intentions, they flaunt themselves. It doesn’t work to fake it. There have been occasions in my painting career when I thought; Hmmm…I’ll stop here. I don’t know how to solve this now, but maybe in a year, I will. I knew I couldn’t fake it. I just had to wait it out.

It is weird, outrageous and courageous to stop; to pull the brush off the paper and step away. But when I did, a year later, the solution came to me, and I finished the piece.

Photo by Jason Chalmers, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonchalmers/4421517767/

Along those same lines, they say, the Leaning Tower of Pisa had a couple of “holding” patterns while artists and engineers (and city finances) determined how to solve the lean. During the construction in 1173, they figured they could just sort of straighten it out as they went, but it didn’t solve the problem.

(There’s sort of a weird subtle kind of curve to the outside edge of the tower as you can see where they attempted to accommodate the leaning).

They waited hundreds of years, until a new idea came along. Benito Mussolini wanted it straight and yet that effort actually made it worse. so again they waited to allow more engineering and more scholarship to devise a solution, The tower was closed in the 1990s with a precipitous lean; the risk was accelerating. They waited knowing that a better idea to solve it would eventually come along. An intricate plan was crafted in 1998 and was fussed with until almost a decade later. In 2007, the Tower was straightened to its 1838 position—a lean they feel comfortable with… for now.

Yet it is “problem solving,” patience, battles over disciplines and ideas, along with the courage to try something that produces the art. It may involve jumping the chasms of fear and managing the clashing of ideas to distill a solution—that’s how the creative process sometimes works. It is a process though, which I often find confuses people. It’s not just a random serious of sparks until a flames ignites. It’s more like childbirth. It may be painful and chaotic, but there is a journey through a tunnel and then you see daylight.

Another example of courageous problem solving is depicted in this video of Boston artist and sculpture, Janet Echelman giving a TED talk on her journey with her art. Her work is breathtakingly beautiful and almost stupefyingly astonishing.

She was confronted with a challenge to create art with unfamiliar materials, then her brain took her to places she had never intended to go, and she continued to problem solve until she created airy, ephemeral, gossamer mists of art—more like floating music than actual 3-dimensional art.

Janet Echelman's sculpture, Museum of the Center of Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania, Permanent Collection, completed August 1998. "Trying to hide with your tail in the air." http://www.florencelynchgallery.com/janetechelman.htm

As expressed in her TED talk, her courage to keep pressing through empowers me. Her humility humbles me. Her vision allows my mind to be carried away of her floating billowy art and to imagine once again that anything is possible.

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About artinthecenter

I am a lifelong artist having studied painting, photography, drawing, and other media, in schools in the US and Italy. I won my first art contest when I was five--at a museum-- and my point of view tends to be as a five-year-old creative child embracing life. Creativity is a core response for me. How can we bring the infinite knowledge and excitement held by our museums and academics into the heart and minds of everyone? There is so much to share. Let’s ask questions, and discuss. Follow me on twitter @janemmason. Check out all sort of artsy information at: www.watchingpaintdry.com +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This policy is valid from 1 January 2016 This is a personal, educational, blog written and edited by me, Jane M. Mason. For questions about this blog, please contact: jane@watchingpaintdry.com. Sincere effort has been exerted to cite, recognize, and thank all sources of content, including images, quotations or concepts that are not those of Watching Paint Dry LLC (WPDLLC), including Jane M. Mason. If you feel we have included something in this blog that has not been accurately noted or recognized to be from a source other than the intellectual property of WPDLLC, please let me know and I will adjust the citation when presented with specific citation sources and details. As an artist and writer, a core principal of mine is to respect and recognize intellectual content of others. If you are interested in using concepts, photos or other intellectual property from this blog, please contact, Rights Manager, Danielle Raub at Hello@watchingpaintdry.com. This blog does not contain any content that is likely to present a conflict of interest, although opposing points of view, as long as they are respectful, are welcome. This blog does not accept cash or paid topic insertions. However, we will consider accepting and keeping free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations. The compensation received will not influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. Those advertisements will be identified as paid advertisements. The owner of this blog, WPDLLC, is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics within the content of this blog. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of Jane M. Mason or the associates of WPDLLC. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. This policy has been adapted from DisclosurePolicy.org. For your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org

4 Responses

  1. Brave Heart in Art

    “…….her courage to keep pressing through empowers me. Her humility humbles me. Her vision allows my mind to be carried away of her floating billowy art and to imagine once again that anything is possible.”
    lovely sentiment!
    I think art requires such a special type of courage as one puts themselves and their emotions right on the line.

    Like

  2. BrandDavidson

    That’s what I was looking for. Thanks for the information. By the way, other stories are a bit less interesting. Please don’t be offended, simply try to keep quality at this level 🙂

    Brand Davidson

    Like

  3. Nice blog! I think you have expressed a common condition very well!
    When I am in a less courageous state of mind for a period of time I am not creative at all.
    I don’t think courage or creativity and be taught, encouraged maybe, but I find the key is relaxing, letting things be okay, even if it means walking away and not worrying about the wait- just like you said:)

    Like

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