The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life. Since many of you are lampwork artists, metalsmiths, and jewelry designers, we thought a discussion from the chapter 'The Imagination at Play' might be fun.
Cameron says that when we think about creativity, it is all too easy to get caught up in the concept of 'Art' with a capital A -- and all the baggage that may be associated with that term. For the purpose of playful, unbridled art, the author advises us to think as capital-A Art as a 'scarlet letter' -- something that would doom us and thwart the true and joyful artistic process. She implores us to nurture our creativity by focusing instead on a sense of festivity -- even humor.
In our ambitious and hard-driving society, we often fail to cultivate creativity because it does not appear to serve us or our practical/career goals. We are encouraged to think back to when we had hobbies and 'non-productivity-driven' endeavors, and rekindle the spirit around those. In fact, the author asserts that the experience of creative living is essential to having a joyous life.
Cameron points out that when we nurture our creativity, it often leads to breakthroughs in problem-solving. The form of artist-brain 'mulling' cracks open our normal rigid 'point a to point b' thinking. As we serve a hobby, such as gardening, pottery, or cooking, we reap spiritual benefits never previously imagined. We are freed from the demands of the ego -- allowing us to have a perspective that is lost in the everyday world of work.
Here's a great quote from the book: "It is a paradox of creative recovery that we must get serious about taking ourselves lightly." We are encouraged to learn how to play -- to make dates with ourselves and commit to this 'non-productive' time. As we create our art, our memories, dreams and creative plans often move to the surface. We discover the imaginative side of our brain. This is natural for humans, but as a society we seem to be trying to destroy our own capacity for creativity. This spirit is easily revived -- in a myriad of ways. Start paying attention to your own dreams -- write a dream journal -- or make crazy doodles and cartoons while you're sitting in a boring meeting. Give the boss a wicked nickname -- plant some flowers in random patterns in your back yard -- sing in the car or the shower. Whatever you do, don't spend all your time trying to do something 'important' or 'great' or 'practical'. If you find yourself wandering into an adventure site on the internet and signing up for lessons in scuba or skydiving, don't assume you're losing your mind. You may be finding your own soul!
It is easy to apply these concepts to jewelry or bead-making. Remember to make time for your creative work, especially if it isn't your full-time job. Let yourself be inspired by things you see around you -- even if it seems crazy. My friend Nan who makes beads for Beads of Courage never has so much fun as when she's figuring out how to create a 'unicorn dolphin' at the request of a special little girl; my friend Ellen flips when she sees some gothic vintage art frame and takes a theme from that to make a choker or brooch for her company Vintique Jools.
For me, it's the notion of taking something like the eye-popping Kiffa beads shown here and making a one of a kind necklace.
What is it that inspires you, jump-starts your creativity, frees you from the mundane or the production line of the work life? We hope to hear from you about it!
Until Next Time,