I did the Artists Way last year- and I thought for the most part it was a good thing to do- after school and all the pressure associated with producing work- art making was starting to seem like something that wasn't fun or good or natural. It felt forced to me, and as though I would let people down if I didn't apply for that grant,and get this show, or make some SERIOUS work, god forbid I 'take time off' to have a child or try to sell some work to make some cash.
The Artists Way helped me to rethink art making, and why I do it, and what I love about it. Though I didn't agree with everything she wrote I do think it is extremely helpful to think about your creative well, and to acknowledge that it takes a different sort of person to make art, that creative people really are different, and they have some specific needs. I think that filling your creative well is actually really important, and it makes the difference in your work, how productive you are and how happy you are.
The idea that Creating takes something out of you, saps some energy form your core, or however you want to look at it, doesn't just apply to artists, I think it actually applies to mothering as well. It's one of those things that we don't quantify, maybe we can't quantify about motherhood. I think the emotional work involved is very much the same as that involved in making art (for great writing about the emotional work of motherhood go here- it's brilliant). It takes a special sort of concentration, and devotion to raise kids, or to make a body of work, or to follow through on a concept. And that concentration comes from within you- it has to be motivated by you, by something other than outside recognition and reward.
Anyhow- there is truth to the idea that you can burn out from creating, you can use up your creative well, and just not have the energy left to go in there and pull something new out. That's why it's so important to fill that well, which is easier than it sounds. It's different for everyone of course, but it involves looking after yourself a bit, being nice to yourself, and doing something that maybe is silly, but you love it anyhow, something that makes you feel fresh again. It's little things all put together that fill the well- and yes making work will fill a little of that void too, the more you make work, the better you feel about making work, even if at first you feel just a little forced into it.
I've been focusing on filling my well this week making uninvolved slab plates and bowls, just to keep doing something in the studio, keep my hands busy in clay really. We've been planting stuff outside, and eating dessert based on the children's story "The Poky little Puppy"( strawberry shortcake, chocolate custard, and rice pudding), reading stories, looking at other people who inspire me, listening to the vinyl cafe podcast, and finding new songs to love. I plan to go thrift store shopping, and buy some myself flowers to plant. I'm going to paint my toenails, and give myself a manicure, really just a hand scrub and emery board trim- not much point in nice nails at this time of year, but the act of sitting down and doing something just for you, that fills the well.