What’s the big idea?
Creativity is sometimes defined by having a big, important idea. It’s the feeling that if your art work is a reflection of you – a unique imprint that is a result of your experiences and the work of your obscure and mysterious soul – then how do you actually sit down and make it? It’s too important. It’s too daunting.
The small idea V the big idea
The beautiful thing about humans making art though history is that it’s not important.
Art is one of the most important and cherished things in the universe. But is it important like food, air, shelter, companionship, warmth and clean water are? No. Art is entirely luxury.
The best thing about thinking of art as a luxury is that it doesn’t make the burden of it so heavy. When you sit down at your desk, or walk into the studio or fill up your paint-water jar, and think about creating the best of your human expression, it feels like you have a pretty hefty responsibility on your hands. This can make it much harder for the ideas to flow – it’s easy to be more judgemental and less open with what comes out, and it’s a downward spiral of anticipation and stress. The muse hates stress.
“…Art is absolutely meaningless. It is, however, also deeply meaningful… Sometimes you will need to leap from one end of this paradoxical spectrum to the other in a matter of minutes, and then back again.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Avoid the pressure, do more art
I believe your art is important. It’s important to the world that we see it – you are the only person and this is the only time it can exist. However it comes out, that is how it’s meant to be, and the world is better with it in.
It doesn’t mean you can’t go in and refine it, change it, or throw it out and start again. The vital element is that you do it in the first place, with an open heart. You should arrive at your creative space knowing that the important bit is the doing, not the result.
1. Art is a luxury. So it doesn’t matter how it comes out.
2. Art is subjective and expressive, so it doesn’t matter what people think.
3. My art is not the same as other people’s art. It’s unique to me.
4. I don’t have to create a masterpiece.
5. The most important thing is that I do some work.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.
Keep the channel open.”
Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille in ‘Dance to the Piper’