Notes on Creativity

New sculpture, Summer 2017

New sculpture, Summer 2017

Even though we think of summer as a time to kick back and take it easy, the truth is that once you’re a parent and business owner, summer is as busy as any other time of the year. Most of us spend a lot of time just getting things done and it’s hard to be creative when you’re ticking off items on your to-do list.

But when we ignore that creative impulse for too long, we can begin to feel a kind of restlessness. A kind of disconnection.

So when I recently felt the urge to create something, it felt like something I was compelled to do. Not because I needed to in the “to do list” way. But in the way that you sometimes feel like you need to go for a run.

There are certain things that I do to make sure I’m ready when the creative urge gets really persistent and can’t be ignored. For example, I intentionally keep certain objects around me. I have buckets of junk. Scraps everywhere. I keep these things around me so that I can use them to respond to an impulse to create.

I allow the objects to become integrated in the final product. I can make a circle out of wrenches, scraps of metal, shovels, nails, shovels - it doesn’t matter. They are transformed by the joining into something new.

In process

In process

It comes down to the difference between intuitive and calculated work.

A project like “Pick” was drawn, conceived, designed, and then refined in several very intentional stages. In other words, it was calculated.

The other kind of work - the intuitive work - is welding hammers together, maybe smashing it all up, and molding it again. Playing around with it and seeing where the creative impulse leads. It’s the difference between improv and learning lines. The difference between stream of consciousness writing and a carefully edited piece.

The raw work always has something in it that you can respond to. If you want to leverage the experience, you have to be disciplined enough to go back and look at it again and make changes based on a critical look at the work, after you’ve allowed creativity free rein.

I created this new sculpture because creativity demanded it. It felt good to reconnect with creativity and to do something outside what I normally do. I’ve learned that if too much time passes between these creative bursts that we allow to run free, it becomes more difficult to summon up the urge.

As a professional who depends on creativity, I've learned that inspiration is something that I need to seek out, search for, and grab when it's available. If you want to wait for inspiration to randomly hit you like a bolt of lightning, pull up a chair.

Creating something for no other reason than to see where it goes is a great exercise. All of us need that reconnection with our imagination. Listen for that signal, and when you hear it, create the space to act on it. Allow yourself the freedom to be creative and then have the discipline to look at it critically.

You’ll create something wonderful.