Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Expectations

Last night my friend Will forwarded me a quote for "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron:

Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be perfected, finished, and set aside. It is my experience that we reach plateaus of creative attainment only to have a certain restlessness set in. Yes, we are successful. Yes, we have made it, but...

In other words, just when we get there, there disappears. Dissatisfied with our accomplishments, however lofty, we are once again confronted with our creative self and it's hungers. The questions we have just laid to rest now rears their head again: what are we going to

This passage hit the nail right on the head. Recently I announced that I had completed the last of my "Forgotten Memories" series. While a lot of people were supportive and excited to see what I would come up with, others weren't sure why I would want to change something that worked, and did well. Why not stick with what's familiar? It's easy (for me) so why not just continue what I have been doing?

While I accomplished a lot with this series, it's no longer enough. I have been restless and wanting to try something new. I am hungry for a new challenge, a new series that will take me to the next level, whatever that level happens to be.

I used to worry that I was too ambitious, that I would never be satisfied with what I've accomplished. I used to ask myself "when is this going to be enough?" It has taken me a long time to be satisfied with many aspects of my life and not always feel like I was missing out on something more, something better.  I am pretty happy now. I have a wonderful husband, house, friends, etc. I have a good life. But I think with art and creativity, though, you should never be satisfied with what you have. We should always be too ambitious. We should always be striving to challenge ourselves, to not be stagnant. When it comes to our creativity, we are never done growing.

The unfinished quality, this restless appetite for further exploration, tests us. We are asked to expand in order that we not contract. Evading this evasion that tempts us all... leads straight to stagnation, discontent, spiritual discomfort. "Can I rest?" we wonder. In a word, the answer is no.

As artists, we are spiritual sharks. The ruthless truth is that if we don't keep moving, we sink to the bottom and die. The choice is very simple: we can insist on resting on our laurels, or we can begin anew. The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew.

This is what I am ready for. I am ready to start anew and see where this takes me. My new series may not be as successful as my "Forgotten Memories" series, it may be a complete flop, but if I don't try and do something new, I know I won't be happy as an artist. I don't want to just be a machine cranking out work that means nothing to me. I want to continue making work that inspires me and makes me happy. So while some of you may not be happy with my decision to try something new, hopefully you'll understand my need to do this.

I think this will be an interesting journey filled with ups and downs, success and failures. I'm excited to see what 2013 will bring and I hope everyone will push their creative abilities along with me!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, Jhina! Don't settle for less than challenging yourself.