Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

"Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow - whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward".   

Kurt Vonnegut

Making art, being creative is a complicated double edged sword for me at times.  The sentiment expressed here - about go make your art, go create and it's  the act of creating that matters, is so liberating and freeing. And so very much how I felt thru the week as I was working on the book "Seeking Solitude" - it was the innocence of creativity, of expression, of working with your muse and your materials and working only out of the pure joy of making something beautiful. Like an essential oil - the purity of it was wonderful to experience.

On the other hand, we do sometimes need to take note of what happens afterwards - where the piece goes, what was being made and why, who it is for, what you hope to achieve with it...and therein lies the conundrum.

I sometimes try (with the help of Barry) to sort out what I want to achieve through my art and my making, in part answering the 'why do I create?' type of question. For now, I have got it down to a few different bits:
  • I know I want to be able to make things I love, for the pure joy of making them;
  • On occasions I also want them to sell;
  • I also want to experience those magical moments when somebody buys or holds or is gifted something of mine and that joy and happiness they express, I love that exchange; and
  • On occasions I also seek recognition by my peers that the work I do is worthy and quality work.
I think it's complicated! And that's all without having to try to make a living from my art and making...

Nonetheless I do agree with Kurt when he encourages us to just go do something. Make something. Write something. Even if it is simply wrapping pebbles...which I just love doing.


  1. yes - and don't you find that those four motivations often contradict each other..... to gain critical acclaim sometimes means you may make work that doesn't find a market..... to make work that appeals to a buyer means you may need to push past your own creative desires.... making work for the joy of it may not pay the bills.... ahhhhhhh its tricky

    I think all we can do is make work that thoroughly reflects ourselves... the rest will (or won't) sort itself out..... without making work for the sheer joy of it, there's really no point in making anything at all (welllll that's my approach anyway!).....

  2. You've made so many good points, Fiona..... and as you say it is complicated. It's all about finding the balance. Sometimes (most times) I want the scale to tip precariously to the creating-alone-in-a-garret side but I know I need to mingle and do chores to appear civilized at least (especially for the sake of my beloved family)and of course selling has so many positives. Recognition and cash to live and buy materials are only two of many.

  3. Insightful post Fiona. I recently watched 'The Sketches of Frank Gehry' and this is something I recommend you watch, if you have not already. He speaks of most of what you discuss in this post, it is most inspiring... just as your blog is to me. x

  4. i hope you don't get over your infatuation with 'seeking solitude' any time soon - it exudes tranquility and peace... something definitely worth carrying with you... it is filled with beauty...
    i appreciate these musings -
    for me, the bottom line is that things often 'have' to be born - or i become agitated inside... not in an angry type of emotional way, but i begin to vibrate... perhaps it is the excitement coming up toe to toe with fear/resistance...
    your wrapped rocks are bits of poetry themselves...

  5. Complicated, complex, not SAFE, not easy, challenging, rewarding, inspiring... and the NOT SAFE thing again. There's almost nothing quite as unbalancing for me as a day in the studio that doesn't flow. Usually its more a state of mind, the works seem better later. I appreciate your honesty about needing recognition- we need to put ourselves out there to get it, but that can feel challenging, too. I could also have written everything in all the other comments ( except the bit about Gehry, cause I haven't seen that!)

  6. It is all a conundrum... and worse when something that you are working on doesn't resolve itself.

  7. I agree that the joy of creating something for yourself is the reason why we're driven to do this sort of work, and when you discover your own recognisable 'style', the other things follow. The greatest reward of all is when someone else connects with your work and wants to own it.

  8. You can see by how much every one has written about this post, the chord it has struck. All I can say is ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto :-)

    I think the little something every day approach is a good one as the discipline of that often leads onto something more solid. And if not, you created something little and that in itself brings huge joy.

  9. Oh Ronnie - the contradictions! I agree that everything needs to reflect me - whether it's quite what I wanted to do or not! I like best the place where you make what you love and so do other folk who buy it! Laugh. I just don't think it's straight forward and sometimes it's good to consider the complications...

    Hi Robyn - yes the balance. Sigh. I love what you said about garrets and needing to be civilised, but also about that recognition is nice and so too is money as it lets you buy more materials!

    Thank you Louise - I shall go in search of the FG work as I haven't seen it. There is often much to think about when it comes to having your work 'out there'. But it's good to be amongst folk who know what it's like and think about it too! Go well.

    Hi Valerianna - thank you! I love the NOT SAFE mention; so true! Putting yourself out there is challenging, but sometimes our work deserve to be out there, seen and loved. Complicated is the best I can get to on this sometimes.

    i love that word Jo - a conundrum indeed. It's definitely not straight forward for me.

    Thanks Helen - I agree. The need to express is what drives us, and we sometimes have to hope that there are others who want it, if we feel the need to sell and be recognised in that way. I still love those moments when somebody sees something I've done and wants buy it - I do a little happy dance!

    Thanks S - I'm sure I'll never sort it out totally but it's good to explore and try to understand. A little something every day is lovely - and as you say, in and from those moments other things can grow...

  10. What great words to log on and come across Fiona.He's right about just doing something. For me, the act of creating is enough in itself and anything else is a bonus. I may not even like the finished result but if I have been absorbed by the making, thinking through the processes, sourcing the materials etc then that is often enough. Yet again you find something to mentally wrestle with.

  11. we must live in the tension and find life there. and i believe the key to finding life is being grateful for the little things. for the feel of the material in our hand, for the light being just so, for the magic and joy of the creative process, for the connection, the exchange, the recognition... even for the struggle, the uncertainty, the rejection. this is the fertile ground necessary for growth.

  12. Hi Lesely - than you! Its interesting how often that holds true for me as well - if I have been absorbed, and enjoyed the time then what happens next often doesn't matter. It might sit in my studio smiling at me, I might turn it into something else; but the process has been such a joy.

    Thanks Anca - yes living in the tension and finding life there. For it is there is it not? Gratitude is special - and knowing how fortunate we are in each of those small moments is a fine gift of understanding. Sometimes we can get distracted from that by the purpose of what we are doing, rather than just enjoying the experience. Thank you.

  13. Yes, yes, yes! I don't know if any of us will ever find a perfect and lasting balance between the four motivations you expressed so well, I certainly can't, but I can tell something by which one you listed first - love of making things, and which you listed last - peer recognition. When you find those two reversed in priority is when an artist is truly in trouble.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.