An Artist Residency and Creative Awakening
What is creativity? How do we, how do I, define good Art? Is it intuition or vision? What one sees or what one thinks? These, and many more, were the questions I pondered before my residency with Fusion in Ishikawa, Japan. Thankfully, my previously fastidious ideas of creativity where stretched. I had been boxing myself in.
In my mind, I had to paint representational. I couldn’t leave something abstract. People wouldn’t understand. I had to have a plan, concept, philosophy, something didactic and edifying. A central credo so to speak. Which in the end was, essentially, my first painting. But how I arrived there was different! Which is important.
2 planes 5 trains 1 bus later, I made it, the first step of my “creative awakening”. Trying to navigate to the other side of Japan was an eye-opening experience to say the least. It was honestly one of the best and worst parts.
Traveling to an unknown destination in a new country, with an unknown language by yourself is something everyone should try at some point. You are reminded how little you know. I think this is a good reminder because it helps you remember to ask questions and to be open to learning new things. At least, it did for me. This experience also gave me confidence in myself. With only strangers as my neighbors I learned what I can do on my own and when I needed to ask for help. I surprised myself with how smoothly this journey went.
But most importantly I learned these two things: there is a lot in this world I don’t know and I’m strong enough to understand when to ask questions versus when to trust myself. Consciously or subconsciously learning these two things shaped my experience that was to come.
After arriving and not closing my eyes for almost 48 hrs, naturally, I went out for Japanese whiskey to meet the other Artists. Each Artist was completely different. There were graffiti artists, a sculptor, a jewelry artist, realist painter, singer/song writers, dancers, etc. This was where my creativity and ideas of Art were stretch and inspired. It was through having conversations with each Artist and being OPEN to learning, hearing about their techniques, their life philosophies, their dreams that revived me creatively. I was reminded that their is not one right way to produce Art. That there is no point in boxing myself in, it will only hurt myself, and what exactly was I trying to prove? The creative barriers were broken, now I needed to trust myself and try something new.
With the help of my fellow artists and friends I began to see the canvas as a friend not something I needed to control, something I can be free to have fun with. Finally, I allowed myself to paint freely and trust my intuition. I could make marks and cover them again, pour paint, draw a face and cover it again. I followed my sense of color and form and gave in completely to my intuition, while at the same time I allowed myself to bring it back to where I envisioned the canvas in the first place. My second painting started with no preconceived ideas, it was my first large scale abstract painting and it is my favorite painting to date. This was truly a creative awakening.
In life and in creativity there are grey areas, places that don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer, similar to the questions I asked myself at the beginning of this journey. These dichotomies will always exist in our brains. Abstract vs. representational, trusting yourself vs. asking for help, discipline vs. play. I don’t claim to have a perfect balance but I do think only allowing yourself freedom to try one side of these "grey areas" means your missing out on the other.
Why not see beauty in both, maybe even beauty in their coexistence?