For most of my life I’ve preferred to attempt things rather than just wonder what it would be like to experience them. I’m fortunate to be visited by inspiration frequently but I’m not always its most hospitable host. Many ideas have floated away from me in search of a more attentive creator. Perhaps, I should be more considerate of creativity’s needs and refine my artistic etiquette in this regard.
I’m halfway through reading a very enlightening book by Ellen J Langer titled On Becoming an Artist. Langer is both psychologist and artist and her work truly resonates with me. So much so that I actually picked up a 2B pencil and began a sketch in my creative journal. You see, I know nothing about the technicalities of drawing but what I do know is how to see.
I notice and observe the world around me and I’m moved by ordinary details like the patterns of grain in a piece of wood or how light passes through strands of hair. I’ve previously captured such detail through digital photography but I’m now curious about sketching. Does this make me a visual artist? Probably not, but I’ll adopt the wisdom of Langer’s research and practice mindful creativity.
“If we know everything in advance, then we will inevitably proceed mindlessly and we will miss the joy of the activity.”– Ellen J. Langer
I’ve never considered myself to be visually artistic. I’ve spent most of my life exploring the performing arts. I have no expectations of my abilities when it comes to sketching so it came as no surprise to me that I enjoyed the creative process immensely. It was the most creative flow I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve chosen to draw the coffee cups which my husband and I use at the start of each day. I’m grateful to have a coffee machine at home as the recent lockdown meant the forced shutdown of our local café. Here is an image which captures my homemade coffee and the associated conversations shared over breakfast.
My inner critic didn’t get in the way of my creativity because I have limited technical knowledge in this artistic domain. I was in a non-judgemental state and I had no blank moments. I just drew what I saw. Every line, curve, shadow, and create was neither perfect nor imperfect to my mindful eye, it just was. And the transfer from mental picture to representation on a blank page was a pleasing experience. Now, the challenge is to transfer this most liberating mindset into my music composition and performance processes.
“I’m enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”– Albert Einstein