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An Insiders Peek into the Artist's Creative Process

by David Finley

Skelly Cat and the Unicorn, On his mystical journey, Skelly Cat discovers that unicorns are real.

The Myth of the Creative Process

 We artists consider ourselves a creative lot. We'd love for everyone to believe creativity comes riding up to us like rainbow haired unicorns. But, for all you beginning artists and art enthusiasts, I'll let you in on a really important secret:

 Professional artists have to work at the whole 'creativity' thing just like anyone else. Why all the mystery? It's because we are as much in love with the classic myth of the artist drawing inspiration from a beautiful muse as you are.

 For example, which sounds more creative?
"I didn't know what my next piece was going to be so I decided drawing a bird was as good as anything. So, I made a series of small sketches and studies until I found one suitable for my project. Then, I labored vigorously for hours erasing, redrawing, and working with the piece until it came out. I'm still not happy with it, but I refuse to work on it any more."
or
"Since the beginning of humankind, man has envied the birds and their ability to fly. For my latest piece, I wanted to depict my own desire to fly symbolically though the simple image of a bird in flight."

The Artistic Muse Debunked

 There is no shimmering, porcelain-skinned, purple robed goddess anointing us from a silver amphora.

 Our muse of creativity is one big lie.

 Creativity is more like the elusive White Stag of legend bolting like lightening through the thickets of dense forest as we give dogged chase. It is a tireless pursuit of a strong and canny animal you can never truly subdue or tame.

3 Ways to Pursue Creativity

 It takes a lot of work to chase creativity, but here are just a few tips to help you start the hunt.

1. Be as open as a child.

 Children seem to be endless wells of creativity, and well... they are. Their minds haven't yet been filled with all the things we adults consider impossible. It's conceivable to a child that a dog might, under the right circumstances, speak plain English. And, don't you dare step on a crack as you walk down the sidewalk. Think of your poor Mom and her back.

  What have you been taught about life that you no longer question? I'm not suggesting you ignore reality and reject science, but there are multiple lenses you can see the world through. Why not look through as many as possible?

2. Connect with Others

 Humans are social creatures, who are wired for relationships. We are much stronger in teams than alone. Remember the old proverb:
"One can chase a thousand, but two can chase ten thousand."
 Social interaction takes the strain off of your own emotional reserve, gives you more experience and knowledge to draw upon, and helps you learn to better communicate with your own audience.

3. Work Very Very Hard for a Very Long Time

The race for creativity is not a sprint, but a marathon.

If you paint, make paintings as often as you can. If you compose music, fill books with your songs. If you are writing the Great American Novel, then you better be at your desk daily.

 Justin Timberlake is a great example. He was "discovered" early on with the Mickey Mouse Club, worked really hard to find success with InSync, but he is a household name today because he continues to labor as hard as he has as a singer, writer, performer, and actor.

Your Creative Journey

 So, now you know the big secret we artists have been hiding. Creativity is hard work.

So, go. Chase your White Stag with vigor and tenacity.

Happy hunting, Scofflaws!

-Dave

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