In the mind of a creative

IMG_5385I finally sat down, exhausted, and looked around me. Piles on the floor creeping towards me, carefully engineered desktop “filing” teetering, bags exploding over boxes, one inspiration after another layered on work surfaces…. I have done it again. I creatived myself into a mountain of mess.

My mind never really stops. The creative ideas come faster than I can actually execute them; but still I try. There are nasty things that get in the way of execution; like eating and sleeping never mind keeping a somewhat clean house and tidy yard. So to discipline myself to do these somewhat mundane things I turn them into a creative project. You know where I am going with this. New recipes to develop, a seasonal decorative change in the bedroom, a new system for cleaning in a newly appointed room, a redesigned more efficient garden bed… IT NEVER ENDS.

I just can’t seem to help myself.  But I know I am not alone.   Every other artist I know has the occasional (or more than occasional) break down when in the flurry of finishing a project or getting ready for a show the mountain caves in on them.  Where are the 911 head-lamped art-rescue crews when you need them?

I do it to myself in business too.  I remember advising a younger artist that just because she could do something doesn’t mean she had to do it.  But I guess I don’t listen to myself very often because if you look at all I offer here on this website [as I reflectively have just done] I do seem perhaps a little all over the map.

Where do we draw the lines?  It may have something to do with ratio or proportioned time allotment but this does not account for the inspired rush of the moment.  Stop in the middle and you lose the inspirational flow.  In a flash the idea is gone.  Perhaps all creatives need little gnomes to follow them around dabbing the sweat from their brows, feeding them chocolate and sweeping up their messes at the end of each flurry. An aproned housewife might do; or perhaps a toga-clad roman slave type might do nicely too.  Pick your pleasure.

This a rich topic.  I would love it if you commented and we started a discussion.  When I reply it is on this post so check back. Thanks for listening.

11 responses to In the mind of a creative

  1. theclampettsblog

    This issue is larger than for artists only! I recently retired and started cleaning my own home again. Where ole where do so darn many cobwebs come from? Why does every room have something staring at me like, folding laundry, putting away clean clothes, overnight cobwebs, etc, etc. Even if I had a creative idea (I do have a blog) it doesn’t have time to surface!

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  2. Anonymous

    Some of the classes I’ve taken recently have included a discussion about keeping a sketch book for ideas. The theory is, that you can get ideas out of your brain and onto a page for later consideration. It should free your brain and make space for new ideas. I can see the value in that, and I wish I could say that I am disciplined enough to do it, but it simply wouldn’t work for me. (I did try) In part, this is due to my lack of sketching skills.
    I now put each idea into a project box with any work that inspired it., then put it away for evaluation later if I don’t have time to follow through.
    Every New Years Day I do a complete tear-down of my sewing room. It’s cleaned, sorted and organized, with notions and fabrics that I no longer use or need, or love , pulled out to be donated. The project boxes are also evaluated and I decide which ideas were way too ambitious or have lost my interest. They are emptied for new ideas and the fabric goes back into my stash, with little bits of patchwork either donated or saved for my scrap basket. If I haven’t worked on it in a year, I probably won’t get to it.

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    • janebalshaw creative Post Author

      These are great ideas; thanks for sharing! I especially love the New Years Day ritual. I do this about once a year too but as time allows….better to have a set day to look forward to, which in itself will free my mind so I don’t stress on the disorganization and finding the time to correct it.

      I do keep a sketch book and notes that I actually refer to and work from but, maybe like you, it is not the same as actually seeing it in front of myself. I am so color driven and let the work develop as I go that the sketches become simply a reminder of an idea I once had. Used to keep bins of projects laid out ahead but kept sneaking into them “borrowing” parts of them for the current project!!! LOL!

      Since I do some many different things in my one space – graphic design, label making, painting, sewing, photography, writing, jewelry making – this discussion makes me realize that time is what I need more of. I need to let something go in order to finish what I start. Darn it anyway!

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  3. Emily

    For me the trick is to not let the disorganization get in the way of the creativity. Saying to myself that I can start/work on/finish a project only when I’ve cleaned up the space really gets in the way of creativity. So I end up shoving stuff to a side table or wherever to work on what I’m passionate about in that moment. Then when I get stuck or finish I can got back and do some clearing (maybe). I’m inspired by your organizational setup in your studio, Jane. Labeled bins and boxes so you can find things. Sure, they get pulled out and used, but that’s what they are for. Look at the “mess” and relabel it “creative rearranging”. Then you can see how the work you’ve done is so much more important than the rearrangement of your stuff. When the rearrangement starts to interfere with the creativity then you’ll feel driven to systematically rearrange again. I hope this helps.

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    • janebalshaw creative Post Author

      This is great Emily….very encouraging to hear from another creative person. I HAVE always sort of let myself go and ignore all around me to not let the moment of inspiration pass. I guess this time around when I finally took a breath I was immobilized with no space to work!! After I posted this I started looking around and realized that I have too many things that I use only 10% of the time. These can be put away so allow more room for creative clutter. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. david.ronka

    Love this post, Jane. As I was reading about the “mundane” tasks of eating and sleeping, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute… Jane makes cooking into a creative endeavor!” And then you went in that direction. 🙂

    I think you hit on a very important point here: To the Creative, every task, every project, every living space area can be a canvas. I like that.

    And this thought also came to me as I read: The joy is in the doing, not the being done. Well, that’s not completely true. There is great joy in completing a creative project. But I find that my business-attuned mind often defaults to assigning value only to the completed task. But my creative-attuned mind knows that it’s the journey that brings the joy. So, I will re-commit to more fully being in process. 🙂

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    • janebalshaw creative Post Author

      And I LOVE your insights beyond what I wrote, David! Yes yes, yes…the joy in the doing. It really is. I am pleased if I like the out come but there was value in doing it. AND, like you, I have taken enough business classes on how to clock your time to calculate value that it does get in my way too. LIGHT BULB MOMENT! Maybe this is why I create the mess: because the clock is in the background running….hmmmmmm. More food for thought!

      Thanks for commenting!!

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