I seem to have reached a bit of a landmark – this is my 200th blog post!
After a very crazy April where I managed to post something every day, the blog has suddenly slowed down. I am just as busy as ever, but April saw a lot of mini projects being completed, and now there are a lot on the go in earlier stages of development.
So during this pause I have been thinking a lot about the purpose of this blog, and why I’m doing it. Am I achieving what I set out to achieve, and can my experiences help other people in their own creative journeys?
I am a very proud amateur artist, and have no particular desire to ever be a professional or to be well known for what I do. I have no shame about calling myself an artist, but I’m less interested in being an artist than in just creating art. I am very introverted, certainly with my creativity, and have only very reluctantly revealed bits of myself as the blog has progressed.
I have always been keen to be creative in some form or other, but have been held back by very mundane demons that I suspect most of us wrestle with – lack of self-confidence and procrastination. This blog was a way to force me to create things, and to experiment and play with different ideas.
It started well, inspiring lots of new projects and encouraging me to dig out some older work to re-examine and share. There have definitely been lulls, and I suspect there may well be again one day, but on the whole it has kept me focussed, and driven me to keep creating.
I am 38 now – I started the blog two and a half years ago, and before that what did I do? I despair of the time that I wasted, that I could have been creating. All those long years of inactivity, of consuming art and not lifting a finger to create it.
So what’s changed? What have been the factors that have meant that I am now regularly creating?
I think primarily it’s momentum, that having started, it just gets easier and easier to make. In fact ideas race forward at such a rate that the danger is being too superficial and too rushed. And in fact the more I try and fail, the more confident I grow.
It’s also about having a space to share my creations, which is this blog. For me it is a great place to be able to review what I have created and get some kind of perspective on it. And of course to write about it, and sometimes that’s the first point at which I really understand what it is that I’ve created, or why.
And for me definitely it’s also that there’s no pressure, that I create what I want to create, whatever happens to fascinate and delight me at any particular time. My magpie approach constantly keeps me interested – if I spend too long on one medium or one idea then I can get frustrated. It means that improvement is slow, but enthusiasm and satisfaction are consistently high. I’m sure this would be a terrible idea however, if I was hoping to make money or be taken seriously.
And the fact that quality is not an issue is really significant – certainly I want to improve, but I still feel that this is a period of sketching for me, and this blog is my sketchbook, just a collection of ideas, some executed better than others, some thought through in more detail and other less so. The act of making is so much more powerful than the finished thing.
I’d like to see myself start to develop some larger, more complex projects over the next 200 blog posts, and grow my ambitions a bit, but I don’t really ever want to stop tinkering with new ideas, small projects, different materials.
So my advice to anyone who is in the position I was in three years ago is, get started right now; make lots and lots of art as often as you can; don’t care too much about the result, give yourself permission to just enjoy the process and be happy to be bad; find the delight in things, try a bit of everything; follow ideas wherever they lead you; share your work in some format; review your work in some format; use these things to provide the discipline to keep working; and most importantly of all