Friday, December 5, 2008

On the Creative Muse

Sometimes it is hard to get my creative juices flowing. Sometimes, I will go without making anything for weeks, even months! But then, I'll get back into it. Sometimes there is a reason -- say, need to make work for an exhibition *cough cough* -- and sometimes it's just plain time, you know?

It's always been like that for me, and it made things rather difficult in grad school, because obviously, you were there to make art! Having a few months' worth of dry spell during the two years it takes to get through a typical program sucks. Trust me, I know. During that time, I never really figured out how to work through it and get past it to create an "artificial" productive period, so I struggled through the end, when the pressure of my thesis shows kicked in and I turned into a painting factory the last month or so. Fortunately, I work quite well under pressure.

I've had a similar experience recently with my first big post-academia solo show quickly approaching on the first of February. Waited, waited... did a little here and there... ack! I need to get my ass in gear! I have gotten my ass in gear.

But I think I have finally found the secret to pulling inspiration out of your... *ahem* when it just feels like nothing: Just do it!

How cliche! How athletic!

It seems to be true, though. Last night I had a few ideas floating through my head, but wasn't sure how to approach their execution. I hemmed and hawed a bit, worked on something little, took inventory. Finally, I decided to just mix up some colors and get what I call "foundation layers" on a couple canvases. It was great! It felt wonderful, and I got a lot done. The biggest thing was that I was letting myself do the work without fear of making something ugly. Sometimes you just have to let go and not worry about the pretty, you just have to worry about getting it done.

I know that sounds funny, talking about making art and letting yourself make something that you're not happy with! But, as I said, I was putting down the first layer of the picture. I've got something to work with. It's kind of like when I am writing my artist statement -- something that puts the fear of God into many an artist -- I let myself kind of throw up all over the page first. Then I go back and refine and revise until it's just right. Sometimes it is the only way to get yourself going, and it really works. It always works for me, only I never thought of applying it to my art-making.

Maybe now, from now on I won't have to wait for the creative muse to grace me with her presence. I can just take my own feeble, unrefined ideas and work with them in the meantime. In my latest statement -- the one I will be including in the catalog for my show -- I talk about how disappointments and shortcomings, at the heart of the human experience, have served as jumping off points in my creative practice as I make use of old "discards" in my studio to make new works. This new realization adds a whole, 'nother layer to that. And I am grateful for it.

I will leave you now with a photo of a few little paintings I had in a small, rather impromptu show a couple months ago in Buffalo. (Note to self: must retrieve paintings, soon!)


kim* said...

months? wow get inspired girl!

Amy Greenan said...

Well, I am inspired... I guess I am usual among artists that I don't always live and breathe the stuff! I spend a lot of time looking, observing, collecting, saving...

Anyway! Yes, months. Not anymore, though.

Rosebud Collection said...

I always work in "spirts"..Can't seem to change it either..

Amy Greenan said...

Oops... I meant to say "unusual" up there. I am unusual among artists. However I most definitely do not consider myself a "Sunday painter" or a hobbyist. No sir.