“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”
Hands up if the above quote basically sums up your experience of creativity?
It hits the nail on the head for me in so many areas of my life, not just with painting. How many canvases, blog posts, essays, design projects and ideas (and countless other things) have I destroyed because I was trying to re-create an image or story I already had in my mind?
How many, instead, have simply flowed through me, quite out of nowhere and with the littlest of effort, when I simply wasn’t thinking at all?
There is a magical, otherworldliness to creativity that makes it tricky to pin down and talk about, but what do we mean when we say we ‘create from the heart’? I’m sure there are infinite interpretations to be made but, for me, it means to create from a place of feeling; to start with an impulse, or an emotion, whether it be joy, sadness, inspiration, or pain. It tends to be visceral by nature and courageous in its undertaking.
To create from the head, in my experience, is the total opposite. The head is the seat of the intellect; of pictures and ideas already seen and heard. I’ve tried countless times to paint something that I have envisaged in my mind, only the more rigidly and perfectly I strive to re-create that exact mental image, the harder it is to paint and the more likely it is to end up a horrible mess.
It’s those ‘head painting’ days that make me procrastinate the next and doubt myself as an artist. And it’s ‘heart painting’ that has me try over and over again anyway.
Luckily, I know when I’m head painting versus heart painting because I can very clearly feel the difference in my body. With the former, there’s so much tension in my head as I feel my mind working hard to have my hands make something specific happen on the canvas. There’s so much trying to this way of painting that it quickly gets frustrating and exhausting when nothing seems to work out how I want it to.
When I’m painting from my heart, from real feeling, however, there’s a lightness to it; a childlike joyfulness and ease. There is no efforting, only curiosity and exploration, as my hands and tools move across the canvas quite without a plan. It’s liberating and, not only that; it feels timeless. Things happen quickly, or they happen slowly, but it doesn’t matter, I’m only aware of the process as it’s unfolding through me. I simply get lost in the act of creation.
So I might try to sum it up as this: what makes a creative day ‘successful’ is quite simply the focus of intention on flow over force, and process over goal. Or, to put it another way: playing in the unknown and creating afresh, rather than re-creating from the known.
All of which begs the question, how can I open up to that space from which everything does flow naturally? How can I start my day so as to enter into, and enjoy, the process of creativity without having my intellect put anything else on it?
Time to have a think about that…
Morning musings indeed!