“After all, the goal is not to make art, but to be in that wonderful state that makes art inevitable.” -Robert Henri from The Art Spirit
“I don’t believe in it. . .Plumbers don’t get plumbers block, and doctor’s don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working and then expect sympathy for it?” -Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
These two quotes have caught my attention today, in part because they seem to each speak of a different end of the creating spectrum. I love Henri’s vision of that place we have each experienced, hopefully a multitude of times, where creating flows from who we are. That is in large part why I am drawn to the contemplative life, because I think there is something essential in the commitment to spaciousness and slowness, taking time to seeing deeply, that allows creative work to unfold much more freely. And we live in a world that desperately needs people who are committed to a cultivation of the imagination, who are courageous enough to imagine that things could be other than they are.
Then there is Pullman’s quote. I would disagree with his assessment of other professions, I imagine that plumbers and doctors do get blocks, days when they feel uninspired to continue their work, moments when a problem seems unsolvable. And yet there is something to this challenge of the work we do, the way we are invited to wrestle with it and in the process let the struggles reveal our character and shape our dreams. I don’t think this is unique to artists and writers, however we often forget that the creative block artists may get sympathy for is a part of the creative process woven into all the work we do and the way we are in the world if we are open to possibility and a deeper love of a world that is often painful, but often quite beautiful.
I am in the midst of a series of art workshops which have been truly inspiring. I will share more about them at the end of the week when I have my camera and can share some of the details of the techniques and processes I am learning. Yes, you read that correctly, I actually did not bring my camera with me. Intentionally. In large part because I feel so comfortable with a camera, and while I still have a lot of growth potential in that art form, I wanted to make sure to stretch myself this week.
Have you found yourself in moments of inevitable creativity lately? Or have you been wrestling with the challenges of blocks? How do you nurture the former and respond to the latter?
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
Thanks Abi, I am delighted you are using art in your prayer! I will be writing more about my week.
Welcome Peggy and blessings on this new journey of discovery!
Lorna, very true. :-)
Me, your preserving sounds so yummy, I sometimes wish I had a garden to do such things. And your collages sound very fun! Blessings on this flow!
I’ve been focused on my yard and the act of presenting, serving, and preserving the produce and for most the summer that has been fine. I haven’t felt a burning desire to create but in the past several weeks I started getting restless.
I read a bunch of quotes and proverbs the kind that end up on samplers and now I am doing a series of samplers for our house – but not embroidered or anything of that nature. I am creating clipboard collages using the quotes; and Carl Larrson, Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassat, and Hudson School calendar images; and various images from natural history books. I am feeling extremely inspired at the moment.
I guess he’s fussing about the term -WRITERS’ block – of course we all have off days – even plumbers when they can’t fix the problem as effortlessly as usual.
I’m enjoying a Robert Henri period of wallowing in the delight of the process. I’m working on a biography, my first. I’d thought I was only going to write novels for the rest of my life, but no. Instead I’m finding that this form that’s new to me is as refreshing as a blast of AC.
Your blog and site are also new to me and a delightful find.
Christine, This is really good, I get preacher’s block, even pastor’s block. I think we all have it happen in our work and our lives. But you are right, Writers get the name for it, Writer’s block. It isn’t fair.
I look forward to what you write about the rt workshops. I am in the midst of using art as part of my praying, contemplation, spirituality. I seem to stay blocked in this area. I am trying to nurture myself and my creativity with therapy, being mindful, trying to pay attention.