“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