The stones that could see throughout time,
Stand silent as a mime,
They witness creation,
In mute contemplation,
Of Being austere and sublime.

​An Essay on the Squirrelly Essence of Creativity

​In a flash of blinding light, do you have the perfect idea? Do you sketch it out? Do you render it in full color....all possible processing, designs, sizes, accounted for? You know the drill. Sometimes, you are right on the first iteration, and WALA! It's wonderful, celebrated, champagne toasts are drunk....and other times... the first time is a flop, but you are committed to the idea, second time, umm, sorta better but not what you thought it would be?

I do this both ways. My triumphs, if I judge them to be, are when I'm in the flow, have taken the hand of the muse and am flying along working unaware of time and space. Ahh, feels so good. Often it has nothing to do with your concept being perfect or your design skill. Just a good day. It's as if you are connected to a higher force and you can do no wrong, you are adamantine!

Other times, wow, you plan, sketch, think it will be so easy...and it disappoints, not right, not balanced. The "What Was I Thinking" moment.  So depressing, bring on the chocolate!

I had a ceramics professor who told me my best friend was a sledge hammer and I should take my wrath out on my failures with it, let it go and try again. That was some of the best advice I ever got. A little harder to do with metal, but ahhh, I found a way, my torch. I could reduce anything to a spinning ball of hot molten metal....feels so good. Recycling at its best.  But then I began saving my ”first tries,” which were often spot on from my drawings, and comparing them as I progressed.  I learned not to think of them as failures, but “try-outs,” and not giving up has its rewards...you learn. One of the most important lessons is that if it doesn't look right, you have fallen short of what you know you can do, you have only disappointed yourself, not the universe or the art community. Yes, it's self-critique, but that's a good thing unless it turns into a pity party, where you question your ability to do anything, and worse, your very worth. Then you win the official Tail of Woe award, a shamanic stick with a fluffy fake tail on top. I made one and at meetings and critiques, we passed it around to each speaker, works for all kinds of events. But I digress into silliness, which is my prerogative, and my secret pleasure. Never deny silliness!! It is often a backdoor to creativity.

I also remember wise advice from a teacher I took Scientific Illustration from. If it doesn't look right, pin it up, stand it up, use magnets on the fridge, whatever you have to do to get a completely different view, best if it's somewhere you pass frequently. Walk away. As you pass by it from different directions, you can catch the error in perspective for instance. Let it go until you have that eureka moment when you say (more flash of blinding light)...Oh this will make it work! This has become my go-to method.

Often I find I didn't quite get my meaning/vision/truth, across to myself.  I knew what I meant, but failed to completely convey. So where is my inner muse in this piece? What would make it more complete? What is it NOT saying......?  Ahhh. That can often be the golden question to ask yourself.

Creativity is a chimera, elusive and sometimes hard to hold onto, but when you've got it by the tail, it's a wild ride. Messy at times, painful always, but in the end, you come out with more than you imagined at first.  And that, making it over and over again till YOU think it's right, is listening to the inner muse.

Artists are usually Highly Sensitive People, HSP, yes that's a thing, you know who you are! Introverts in many ways, we know how much we can ”take” and when we need reflective time, alone... We are harder on ourselves than anyone else because we are always seeking perfection of our inner vision....we are trying to communicate, not with words but with things.  We are not that different but usually are cursed with an overactive amygdala, sending too many signals to pump out stress hormones. Somehow our disappointments "seem" bigger, more daunting. Think of The Scream, that's us a lot of the time. What's a silent screamer to do? Would I trade this in? Not a bit of it.

I very strongly believe that the very vulnerability that often haunts us is where our creativity comes from because, although it hurts, we just can't stop creating stuff.

I offer up my own recent inner journey of this pair of Neolithic inspired earrings. The muse just wouldn't let me go until I got it right. She's a hard mistress!

Drawn, carefully researched, the face converted to an .stl file for a 3D printed stamp, even the first stamps were disappointments...What??? but, but, I'm good at this....hmmm They were pitiful on the first try....  but I thought it out so thoroughly. Well the face needed a lot of work, lines too thin, impression not deep enough...I printed out six different sizes and depths before finding the perfect one, oh not all at once, but every day a new one, trying to find the one that seemed right.  And of course I had those feelings...who am I to think that I can do this? Why am I banging my head against this technology wall. But then I got angry and anger is a powerful fuel if you can control it. So I just kept after it.

First try. I had brazenly textured the whole thing, both sides, with sandpaper, one of my go-to textures for sort of rock-looking stuff.  I assumed the face stamp was going to flatten out the texture, heck it looked great in the greenware, but alas, it came out a textured face....ummm nope, nada, ughhh. And the face was not deep enough, and it looked like it had, well, a sand face.

Eye Stele 1

Ok, more printouts...deeper cleaner face.
Second try, no sandpaper. I decided to push some cuneiform stamps I had printed out into it also...but if I pushed too hard, it distorted the shape which was supposed to be a rock stele. Ummm, another disaster, but great faces.

Eye Stele 2

So what was I missing? It wasn't speaking to me the way the pieces in the museum did.  Well, this is a totally different medium from the rock it's made from.  But how to convey that at first sight?  I tried a lot of textures, mine and some storebought, but nothing seemed right until , scrounging around, I came up with a geo stencil I had completely forgotten about! I use modeling clay, or oil clay as it's sometimes called, to test my ideas on...lasts forever and is soft and close to the consistency of metal clay.
After several placements of the design, I discovered the first one, which was just plopped on with no real thought, seemed to be the best. Delighted, I made my third try. Eureka!  I liked it, it spoke to me of rocks and was the right size and shape.  And just to make sure, I had put texture on the back and two cut-out  hands from a cave painting. All that took me about a week, most of it was thinking it through. After all, it was a new concept for me. And I learned something about myself. My go-to sandpaper texture, while great for some things, had become a shortcut for my lazy self.  It's the muse chiding me for not giving it my full attention, and she wouldn't let go!  I realized I was being schooled. I love school. The Ahhhhhh feeling at the end was worth it.  She gives good rewards:))

Eye Stele Finished Back

Hope your days glide beautifully along.
With love, Ann