Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a lull and a spark

Took everything off my inspiration board while I figure out how to re-work it...

Little Crane No. 1

Near the end of December I was feeling really burnt out and told myself I'd take the month of January "off"... I still packed and shipped artwork, sketched and planned but with less pressure to produce new work than I had felt over the past few months. I did some little DIY projects in our apartment, took photographs and worked on a couple custom paintings but not much more.

Holly of Decor8 recently blogged about accepting natural pauses in inspiration, especially when the weather gets cold and life outside seems to shut down a little too:
"I’ve been inspiration-challenged and unmotivated, like my creative fuel tank was at 1/4 and slipping rapidly towards empty. I get this feeling each and every January and attribute it to nature’s way of saying, “Slow down. Rest up, enjoy the silence in your head because it will soon be full speed ahead!”, and well… Nature knows best. Animals hibernate, trees stand naked with exposed limbs, soil freezes over with no signs of life and yet we always-hungry-for-more humans still push with all of our might to fly forward without any rest or reflection. The moment our body tells us to pause we think something is wrong and freak out. More and more, because I’ve noticed this January pattern for several years now and am “on” to it,  I think something is right when I feel like doing a lot of nothing. My January down time is something I expect and roll with these days…  Who cares, I reason, I’ll get back on my feet soon enough."
I take heart in the fact that other creative people get into these same slumps, where it feels like you can do everything except what you are supposed to be good at-- creating. So the choice to take a break a good thing, because January was fabulous for living life and exploring the city with Mike and catching up with friends, but decidedly uninspired when it came to producing. One thing I've learned about the creative process is that you can't force it... you can prepare for it, practice it and even coax it along in hopes that you're just overlooking inspirational seeds already planted... but if nothing is happening, then nothing happens. At least that is how it is for me.

Luckily, just as you begin to get accustomed to the pause, the winds shift and creative sparks begin to fly again. Instead of staring at a blank canvas thinking "now what?", I have fully formed visions in my head just waiting for my hands to pick up paper and a brush. Some are new and some have been percolating for a while... I've had this photograph in my head for the last few months since taking the series during an awesome, serene moment alongside a river in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and finally started playing with it in a few new pieces. Here is one.

heron at harper's ferry 
little crane no. 1 little crane no. 1 little crane no. 1 


  1. Great read and you are most certainly not the only one to experience these moments!! Thanks for sharing your talents and this piece is just amazing. Love the texture compilation - especially on the corners. It feels good to look at! Thanks for sharing your vulnerable thoughts - it helps other artists in so many ways!

  2. This was a good read. I completely agree that you can't force being creative. Sometimes it doesn't come to you when you want it to, but when the spark comes.. it's an amazing feeling and you HAVE to create right away :)

    I love your art!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Mae. I think this is something every artist wrestles with throughout their life, the flux of inspiration, and it is really comforting to hear personal stories like yours and how you've dealt with it... and you did exactly what you needed to do by taking a break - but also by keeping your right brain engaged with smaller projects, you made it that much easier on yourself to jump back in full force to the next wave of creativity. I love this new piece!

    I like to think of our creative lives in terms of yoga. Just as in yoga where restorative poses are equally as important to our health and wellbeing as the strength building, and often more "challenging" poses, they complement each other very much in the same way that the art process flows. Allowing ourselves periods of time to step back, slow down, and turn inward is an absolute necessity for our brains to fully integrate our stretches of active creativity.

    I'll speak for myself when I say it can also be really difficult to allow ourselves this time, because our egos tend to tell us that if we're not consistently producing amazing things, we just must not be working hard enough, or that there is something wrong with us - but that is so far from the truth!

    And I can't stress enough how great it was that even while you were on a break you still remained engaged in your process and kept creating, just with less pressure. (Again, love the new piece!) This is a true indication of a great artist!

    Keep up the amazing work, it's so inspiring to follow your blog - can't wait to see what comes next! :)


  4. What a beautiful piece. I love the words on it and your choice of wood with the bark on the sides, it all fits together perfectly. It is hard to allow ourselves down time and to let our creativity ebb and flow. It is difficult to learn this and accept it, but very necessary for our being.

  5. wow. beautifully said. gorgeous new piece! love that you used wood as your canvas. don't you just love those moments when inspiration (finally) strikes again? it is sometimes so difficult to let it be- to let yourself do something other than create.