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You may be familiar with an old advertisement slogan which said something to the effect that: You're not getting older baby you're getting better. I'm not sure that was a true statement in regards to the product they were promoting but I believe it is true when it is applied to creativity.
Just think of all the fabulous sage artists over the centuries. They just kept working and work just kept materializing. This ability to keep working is a very attractive feature of being an artist.
I've been aware of this "gift" for many years but this weekend I read something that added an interesting element to the mix. I have been slowly reading Forrest Kinney's book: Creativity Beyond Compare. I say slowly not because it is hard to read, it isn't, but because there is so much wisdom and richness it requires me to stop and savor what he is offering.
Chapter 7 is titled Resisting and it explores the way we feel when we work, becoming aware of those feelings, how different teaching styles impact students and the longterm effects of our practice styles. Toward the end of the chapter he talks about "finishing" work (he has an interesting view on this) and then he says, "Why rush the end? It will come all too soon anyway." " The childhood of an artistic practice or of a project is the time to wander, gather many seeds, and get our feet muddy. Middle age is the time to organize, harvest, and do the laundry. Old age is the time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, but we can't do this if we didn't gather up a lots of strange-shaped pieces in our youth."
I love that statement. It honors the lives of people, all people who have a lifetime of experiences and if you have a creative practice you can now use all of that information to make the best work of your life.
I also love it as the description can be applied to the process of making of any single work.
A creator begins a new project. They try a few new things. They wander, gather and get their feet muddy. They begin to have good feelings about part of the work but everything isn't going to make it to the end. Now the hard decisions must be made. You may have to remove something you love because it doesn't work with the piece as a whole or the piece is working but you are just treading the same path. This is the time to organize, harvest and do the laundry. The old age is when you really hit your stride and begin to see the work as a whole and it all comes together....and that strange-shaped piece is the center of the composition.
During the past few years as I have taught around the country with groups composed mainly of mature women, the thing I have been most impressed by is how smart they are but often how hampered they can be when not willing to try something different or step beyond the accepted norm for their group or the norm they have established for themselves. To me this means not drawing on their life experience. It's also about fear and not trusting their personal vision. This goes back to the title of Chapter 7 - Resisting.
So to anyone who has made it this far with me I say - Step into your power. Be fearless. Do your best work. Try something crazy and don't stop working. Remember - You're not getting older, you're getting better.
Thank you spending time at Studio 24-7.
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