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Bruce Long - Coaching - Art - Photography If one hand claps in the forest, does it mean your art is bad?

If one hand claps in the forest, does it mean your art is bad?

“Ambulance is normal”. That is what my spell checker has decided I wish to tell you! There could be no greater demonstration of perseverance than me writing anything on this German “Qwertz” keyboard programmed to a “Qwerty” layout, with a fairly imaginative spell check system installed and with personal spelling ability that is, fittingly, creative at the best of times!! And when the Ö key is your quotation mark key, creativity is very much the key to the keys.

I realise that even in my very limited number of blog entries, I have touched on these themes before. Probably because they come to the fore in my thinking quite regularly, especially at the moment when other circumstances influence the opportunities to be free with ideas or relaxed into interacting with the wider world. So, I think they are worth thinking about again or from a slightly different viewpoint, as doubtlessly others have the same, and reoccurring setbacks!

When making art or creating things is a struggle, it does take perseverance - the determination to just continue despite obstacles that arise. Often, the process is slow and far from steady, but as long as we continue to make some progress - addition, refinement, completion - creativity can remain an energising process. Ambivalence, rather than ambulance, is normal. The creative process requiring an ambulance as a normal part of things could be quite confronting I think, but then again, circus and acrobatics, certainly festivals and large outdoor music and arts events do have ambulances on hand, normally.

However, in all forms of creating, ambivalence, not as many of us use the word to mean without a strong opinion, but in the true sense of having two opinions, loving and hating your work. Haven’t we all been in love with a piece one day, then come back later to an embarrassing mess we can’t bare to look at, only to fall in love again with a calmer or more distant perspective? It's the trudging through the negative perceptions and trusting in that unique creative spark that powers things along. Uncertainty is a normal and valuable motivator in the process of creating something new and untried, otherwise we could just do one same thing over and over again. What is especially helpful, in my experience, is to be quite aware of this process and to hold on to the moments of deep satisfaction with the work as I am creating, and how it feels to be in that moment

Having some kind of “goal”, or objective, or underlying value framework for our art, can also be very helpful here. Why be creative at all? Personally, it's an innate drive that I need to take seriously, my mind is always buzzing with ideas and images and concepts and trying to find ways to express them or link them together. I am aware it's a chicken and egg explanation, but I create because I am creative. I need to make things to make sense of life and the world (rather a vain undertaking at the moment, alas), and in hope that through those representations and expressions, I can find a point of commonality or connection with other people. But, back to the tasty food analogies: I find it necessary to remember which is the icing, and which the cake.

What can be most dispiriting, is the feeling that your efforts have fallen flat, that the point of connection you’ve offered was not noticed, taken up or valued. The complicated visuals posted online, the well crafted blogpost (ahem…), the soul revealing poem - thrown out to the world, and then….nothing!

Many years ago, I had a series of life drawings printed onto greeting cards and booked a stall at a weekend art market in inner city Sydney. With some supportive friends, we set up a very eye catching and beautiful stall to display these cards and a few other art works. Of course, the nagging self-doubt tells you that you will be coming home again without selling anything, but that was not the case. No, certainly there was little interest in the cards (and in fairness, I can see now that they were unique but not of a commercial standard), apart from ONE woman, who fell in love with them and bought several of each of the 8 designs. This was not only icing, the fact that cash changed hands even added sprinkles on top! I was able to see the experience as a positive one, and will be forever thankful to that person and the encouragement to persevere their purchase gave me. This is one from that series of drawings, I was very proud of the feet!

What are your creative cakes, icings and sprinkles?

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