Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Do Be Do Be Do (Be)

Art Journal page, May 2014
Today's post title references the age-old dichotomy between being and doing.  At this point I'd rather be than do.  Being is inherent; doing is extrinsic, from the outside.

I haven't gotten too far in Eric Maisel's Fearless Creating because there's so much "do" involved.  I'm not into copious list making these days, pushing through barriers, keeping myself on track, nose to the grindstone.  There are other creativity books that haven't worked for me either, Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit for one.  Perhaps these prescriptive tracts are what separate the Big A Artists from the garden variety people living creative lives, folks like me.  I just can't get it up these days.

Julia Cameron's The Sound of Paper has suggested tasks with each essay, but I'm not compelled to do them for the most part.  Lists, again.  Stuff I already did eons ago, at the other end of my adult life.  Overall, though, this book takes a much more gentle approach to coddling one's creative soul.  And I'm looking a lot more closely at the gestalt of my life as a creative (ad)venture rather than merely focusing on my output of stuff made.

I think I have a more creative mind than I've allowed myself to believe in the past.  Call it imagination, I guess.  If I can imagine myself doing things, painting for instance, is it really necessary to actually do them??  I don't know.

Anyway, I appreciated your comments on Monday's post about being lazy.  Lazy is a judgment, and I'm letting it go.  I'm exactly where I am these days, which is exactly where I should be.  Whatever happens, happens.  All that exists is the life I'm living right now.  No complaints.

Have a great day!  xo


Jan said...

I like your comment about imagining being enough. I remember when I was at Cal, in the throes of finals, thinking that I knew what I needed for writing the essays, so why did I have to spend 3 hours writing it all down? I know why....but it seemed a waste of time, even so.

My friend Rachel sometimes says that when shed works out a garment completely in her head, then she doesn't need to make it.


Corrine at said...

So now I am thinking about being, isn't doing being in it's own way, especially something as meditative as artmaking? Feels like the doing is being to me anyway.....exploring the idea. xox

Irene said...

I think being, and being contend with that, is basically what life is all about. It is when you stop having to justify your life through performing one act or an another and having to produce results to show for it. Being is enough. See this as your reward for all the tough work you put in all those long weary years. Just "be."

Els said...

Oh my Connie, thought you had a cold when I read those words above the post ....hi, hi, hi !
LOVE your last bit of the post !!!

Michele Unger said...

All the books that try to explain how to be creative and all the things you "should," "must," and "ought" to do to achieve said life don't work for me, either. By the end of Twyla Tharp's book i wanted to strangle her with her own drive and will power!

Imagining something can certainly be enough. The outcome of a creative life is to keep real life or in your mind, just keep at it. See things in new ways. I'm not sure that product is that important, or if it's important at all.

Loved the post. You make me think!

Charlton Stitcher said...

I understand exactly - the life I'm living ... no complaints!

Paper Chipmunk (aka Ellen) said...

I've always felt those prescriptive tomes (lists! exercises! activities!) aren't for the Artists, who just keep slogging away at it, but for others who are looking for some kind of magic recipe for being creative. It's just another sort of self-help genre that has never really resonated with me, either.

Stepping back and taking time to let things percolate is a perfectly valid, and necessary, stage in the creative process. It's such an American attitude, isn't it, that we must constantly be BUSY BUSY BUSY and DOING DOING DOING. Screw it, I say, especially if you don't need to be making a body of work to please a gallery or paying the rent with it. Percolate, if that's where you're at. These pauses are important too. "Whatever happens, happens." Such a sane attitude, and one that I hope to take to heart as well.

And the truth is, the only truly magic recipe, if you do want to be producing, is simply to do it. Persistence. To paraphrase Chuck Close, inspiration is for amateurs; working artists just get to work. (That is, assuming one wants to be working!) But saying that sort of thing doesn't sell books and magazines.

At the funeral a few years ago of an elderly friend who'd been a professional designer, artist and art professor, someone eulogizing him pointed out that he'd been a true artist through and through--"an artist's artist"-- and that it had had nothing to do with how much he'd produced or what he'd made (not all that much, in his later years). What had made him an Artist (the sort with a capital A, as you'd say) had been his outlook on life and the way he'd lived it. This described my friend so well, it was something that stayed with me. The fact that he'd been an artist had much more to do with his essence, rather than simply his output.

Jan said...

I admire that you allow yourself to follow your heart, and not push yourself to do as you think others might think you ought to do.

Leslie said...

Ha - and here I've been humming it to myself since it showed up in my reader.
The idea of imagining yourself doing a painting being enough discounts all the fun of actually putting paint to canvas!