In recent years I have had my whole mind made over about what it means to be an artist, a creative person. I believed that creativity was something exclusive, and that unless you preferably studied it academically, then poured everything into it and strove for perfection and originality you would struggle or even worse ‘fail’ at it.
My mental image of what calling myself ‘an artist’ looked like was a very fixed one. I would have to have a studio, I would have to work very hard to be noticed. I would have to attend galleries and arty events and take part in exhibitions and somehow through a process of blood sweat and tears and luck I would ‘arrive’. Of course none of the above happened and seldom does for many creative people.
My whole perception of creativity and what it means for me has changed and been shaped by what I have been reading and what I have experienced first hand from the good old university of life.
I have come to realise that creativity evolves and changes – just as life does. The process of creating is actually more important then the product at the end. More often than not the end product is not at all what was envisioned in the first place – and that is perfectly okay! Life seems to be more about the middle part of the journey, the often messy processing part, than it is about the goals and ambitions being fulfilled at the end. Our goals and desires evolve and change as our values and circumstances change.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big magic talks about allowing our journey of creativity to be a path of “curiosity” rather than a “passion” or “everything setting your head on fire”. This is a far more sustaining approach to creating. A more gentle, encouraging and less intimidating one.
So no, being an artist does not have to be a grandiose stereotypical thing. It can be as simple as having a creative hobby. It can be an outlet, a way of escaping the hurried and mundane. It can be a form of therapy. Simply making things more beautiful than they need to be just because it brings us joy.
Creativity has taught me some important strategies or techniques in the way I approach what life throws at me. It has taught me to be resourceful, when plan A and B are not working move on to plan C and D! Being interested in and learning new things enables one to see the world in a new way. It has shown me that I can get myself unstuck.
Crafting and creating something is an undertaking of risk and faith. The outcome is not guaranteed. So to is one’s journey through life. Circumstances and events can change, nothing is certain. I cannot predict or control everything in my life, but I can use what I have to design it as I go along.
So go take that pottery course, fish out your dusty paints and brushes, start writing your memoirs, re do that section of your garden you have been meaning to do…. Do what brings you joy. Don’t spoil it my measuring or comparing. Do it just for you, just because.