In a recent post I talked about how you could do a quick self analysis of how open you are to creative processes. This lead me to think about how we share creative ideas and why. Being an artist requires that I am creatively open and yet I was still challenged by the fact that I do occasionally stagnate a little and get kind of stuck in a rut. As I self analysed (using my 3 checks) I noticed that there are patterns to times when I might not be super enthusiastic about other peoples’ ideas - even the ones that are awesome. I might not have the energy for getting excited about trying new things. And I might be a little more prone to being control-freak Mum at those times as well. At these times, I find it particularly helpful to draw on outside resources. I also find sharing my creative ideas or process is beneficial when I am working on a new idea. Even the simple act of putting in to words what is in my mind can unlock something new. The process can have the added benefit that, as I seek advice or feedback from someone else, I am provided with a different viewpoint from a fresh pair of eyes.
My recent exhibition, “Created” was inspired by a verse in Genesis 1 which talks about God making both man and woman in His image. I spent a lot of time, as I prepared the work, thinking about how man and woman are designed to compliment each other. Sure it’s not as distinct as all men have one specific set of personality traits and all women have another - we are all our own unique blend of our Maker’s characteristics, but with a little more of certain characteristics that make us inherently male or female.
Man and woman are made to work well together, to pick up the slack for each other. For instance, in our family, I am good at comforting our kids when they have had a terrible day at school because I tend to have a strong nurturing instinct. It's one of my personality traits. You know the scenario; they’ve fallen out with a best friend, the teacher told them off for not concentrating (SO unreasonable) and they forgot their homework (NEVER their fault). Cue a hug from mum, some sympathy, something to eat (because they always come home ravenous). Boom, things are getting back in to perspective already. BUT, kids being kids, every so often they throw you a curve ball. They’ve made a not so great decision and got themselves into the sort of situation that can send a mother’s heart right up into her throat and sort of make her choke a bit. This is the point when I seem to lose my rationality and I have learnt that the first thing I need to do is call my husband. Firstly so that he can calm me down. Secondly, because I know that he is an exceptionally good problem solver and he's super rational. Plus he’s great at communicating with the kids in such a way that they understand where they went wrong. They can begin to figure out a way through it without feeling backed into a corner.
That’s why I love to bounce problems off my husband - he looks at things from a completely different angle to me and always has a different idea and perspective to offer. Now I know that not everyone has a husband/wife/partner, but there are other options....
What friends are for
We are designed for community and that’s why friends can also be great for creative process. I have several friends who are amazing for this. They don't always get what I'm trying to achieve - sometimes it can be hard to explain your art to someone who does not specifically have a strong interest in art. But that isn't necessarily vital. Again, just the simple process of putting the thought process in to words can be enough to trigger something in my mind. Plus, in trying to understand what I'm getting at (because friends love to help each other, right?), they might inadvertently suggest a great idea. If you're at work, it might be a colleague or group of colleagues. I think it is important, though, to be really wise about who we choose to bounce ideas off. It’s always going to work best if the other person tends to be creatively open too because people that habitually tend towards a more negative response might leave you feeling discouraged unnecessarily. Encouraging words can be an awesome stimulation for creativity!
I was made for this
And I think that these interdependent relationship models show us the way that our Creator wants us to do life with Him. Not that we need to pick up the slack for Him as we might for each other, but He’s sure ready to step in for us. I know that I am at my creative best when I am spending time taking care of my relationship with God and then it’s the most natural thing in the world to ask Him how I should approach a problem or what His awesome idea would be in a situation. Sometimes the answer I get isn’t what I’d expected and is sort of opposite to what I was thinking of doing. Actually, that happens a lot. When I choose to let go of my way and choose to take on board His suggestion (in all honesty, I don’t always…), I am practising being creatively open; I’m relinquishing control...and I start to get excited at the new direction that things are suddenly taking.
Further Reading: Sharing Creative expression