How do I deepen my creative practice?
This is a question relevant to many artistic disciplines. It does not matter what line of creativity you happen to be pursuing, there will be some point in your journey, where you decide that you want to dive deeper. Of course, this will look different depending on how far along that path you are.
What does diving deeper look like?
It might look like any one of the following things –
- Plucking up the courage to go and take a class – i.e. pottery, painting, or sculpture.
- Enrolling in a semester of life drawing classes to up skill in your figure drawing
- Studying some technical aspect of your medium
- Making art journaling part of your daily creative practice
- Taking time to really think about what your creative practice means to you
- Working with a mentor to help you gain insights into things that are difficult to see for yourself
- Joining a creative Mastermind group or creating one of your own
There are so many aspects to one’s creative practice that can be delved into in more detail. One of the areas that I would like to explore with you is the ways you can tap into your greater creative potential and look at ‘how can I deepen my creative practice?’
Creative Practice – What Is It?
In order to talk about deepening your creative practice, we need to begin with the concept of what it actually is. Why do we call it a Creative Practice? What does that really mean?
Unless we understand the nature of a thing, it is impossible to try to think about changing it in some way. If we fail to understand the inherent qualities in that thing, in this case, our Creative Practice, any changes we might make, can often be counterproductive, because we are not looking at the big picture. That is why we must begin with a discussion on the nature of creative practice in order to go deeper into its meaning in our creative life.
Before going further, I would refer you to two earlier posts on this subject for an overview of the topic. These discussions are about the surface levels of Creative Practice.
The distinction I want to pursue in this post is a discussion of how we can tap into our own creative depths and why that is important. The term Creative Practice, itself suggests that it is an ongoing process, which indeed it is. When we practice something we keep refining and readjusting it, looking to make it the best that we can.
In the pursuit of artistic excellence, therefore, we engage in a practice which calls to something deeper within us. It is not only concerned with practicing and perfecting techniques. This may occur in the beginning, however, as we move past that stage, we find ourselves drawn to creating something meaningful to us and possibly others as well.
In order to understand how to deepen our Creative Practice, I will be offering you over the course of this series, some suggestions.
What are some techniques we can use to achieve this?
To know clearly where we are now, it is often necessary to look backward. If we have an understanding of the journey that has brought us to the point we are currently standing, we will have a great deal more insight than we might otherwise have had.
This, therefore, brings me to the first technique, which can be a rich mine of information to support your Creative Practice.
- I would like you to take a piece of A4 paper, turn it sideways and rule two lines on it, one of them at the top and one just over halfway down it.
- At the beginning of the top line I want you to write Birth and at the end of the second, I want you to write your current age.
- Now, think back through your life to the major events that have occurred. The first one on your line – after your birth, should be your earliest memory.
Apart from major life events the other things you might consider putting on this timeline, are moments that have really stood out for you for some reason.
- Do you have any memories that are like beautiful jewels? For example, one that springs to mind in my own life was not a major event, and yet I can still see the image so clearly in my mind’s eye. This took place when I was about eight. We lived in Blenheim in New Zealand at the time. One Sunday morning as we were driving to church, I remember looking out the back window of the car and seeing the moon sitting on the mountains in the distance. It looked absolutely enormous as it nestled in the sky, glowing pink with the sunrise. The beauty of that immense, luminous moon, resting on top of the snow-capped mountains has always stayed with me. This experience was I think, one of my first awakenings to the immensity and beauty of the natural environment.
- Below, I have shared my timeline with you. As you can see there are challenging times on it. These events have definitely influenced how my life has unfolded, and the way my creative practice has grown out of my dealing with those events. There are in all of our lives moments that may have been incredibly challenging and how we have dealt with those moments has defined who we were and how we moved forward from there.
If we think about our lives as a series of moments, when we look at these moments on our timeline, we find that some have gained much more significance than others, within the landscape of our lives. It is these significant moments that can offer a Treasure House of things for us to base our creative practice around, for they contain an essence of who we were – and offer us the ability to question if we are still that person and how we might feel about that.
When I look at my timeline and think about my body of work, I can see a correlation between my emotional states and the works I’ve produced at different points along this timeline. I also see that there are some areas that I have created series of paintings around. For example the paintings I did dealing with the death of my father. Empty Vessel Beautiful Place – is one of the works from that series. Another important series within my body of work was done in 2014 when I was experiencing a huge gulf in my creative practice and working through a period which I called my ‘ dark night of the Soul.’ The work below is from this period.
Dancing In The Dark -Oils on Canvas
It is interesting for me to also see that there are some areas of my early life that I have not dealt with in my artwork and I am wondering what I have missed. What is there that is unique within my experience that can be gifted to the world?
Furthermore, I would suggest that if we look at the timeline as a whole, we will see patterns begin to emerge. Patterns which speak to us of the joys and challenges we have experienced. On looking more closely we can often see repeating patterns. It is these repeating patterns that offer clarity, wisdom, and insights into how we might proceed forward with a greater level of understanding in the future.
If you wish to learn more about how to deepen your creative practice, this is the first in a series I plan to post, so stay tuned.