two questions you should ask yourself as an artist

What do you love? What makes you want to play?

Take a minute to think about that. Maybe ask yourself what makes you stop and watch something as for the very first time? When do you see the colours more vivid, notice the details crisper, and being more mindful about the presence? What are those simple things that make you forget about the pile of laundry, the bookkeeping waiting on your desk, or the last outrageous cellphone bill? What fuels your inspiration and make you burn picking up your camera, brushes or needles?

We see these questions a lot in glossy questionnaires in monthly magazines on wellness and creativity. It’s often phrased in an intimate kind of way, illustrated with flowers in artisan baskets, colourful crayons, splashes of paint and cups of herbal tea floating in the margins … Very well so. BUT how seriously do we really contemplate these questions? Let’s be honest, we mostly glance through them and turn the page…

Still, these are some of the most important questions you should ask yourself frequently to understand your own personal artistic needs and the mechanisms that influence YOUR creativity. As worn out as the word creativity might be, it is still one of our most important assets as artists, writers or crafters (you could add work discipline as well but let’s save that for another time).

More rarely discussed in articles like this is that not only beautiful and pleasant things stir our consciousness into creative outlets. The conceptual artist, writer and photographer Sophie Calle once said: “The happy moments, I live them, the unhappy ones I exploit.” By taking a difficult moment and transforming it into a piece of art, you magically turn something painful into something beautiful (or not, depending on your type of work and your incentives – but nevertheless of lasting value), a creative expression from a unique source: YOU.

Remember, we need the whole palette to make a picture, the dark hues as well as the bright ones…

But let’s return to the flower baskets and teacups for a moment and only think about the pleasant little things that usually sparkle your inner artist and that fill you with an enhanced awareness of the beauty around you… Those are the moments you should look for to refill your creative well. Maybe you are familiar with Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and a disciple of Freud, later to develop his own theories about the unconscious. He once said: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” I believe in that. Creativity as a play with objects that we love. We are permitted to create, not just out of intellectual reflection, but playfully with objects that makes us happy. So play without feeling guilty of not doing something that might seem more “serious” with your time! Jung says we play from inner necessity. Strong words. That means that it’s a human NEED to play, create if you will, and if we do not allow this instinct to take place, we suppress a part of our very nature! So what do YOU love? What makes you want to play? Above a few things that make my inner artist inspired to play!

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© maria larsson 2015

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