It Can Kill Creativity

Second only to language in the hierarchy of advanced survival skills must be the ability to imagine something that does not yet exist, and then make that dream into something solid and real. Just look around you as you read this, and try to find something in your house or office that at one time was not just a dream in somebody’s head. Barring plants, minerals and those things of the earth itself, everything around us is the product of a creative imagination at work.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, oil painting, 1889.
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, oil painting, 1889.

This ability is apparently blown into all of us at birth, is sometimes called abstract reasoning outside of the art field, but nevertheless it is the same thing. Businesses could not survive without it and everyone probably engages in small acts of creativity every day without being aware of it. It is a skill that can be used as a force for good or for evil with equal efficiency, but history suggests that the positive use of creativity is the natural order of things.

We are born dreamers, and we have the power to direct our dreams to create a world to our liking. Throughout history, for good or bad, the most successful people have always been those individuals who realized this power and used it fearlessly to create a new world that never existed before. The late Steve Jobs is but one example of the contemporary dreamers who used this ability to turn their private dreams into a world-changing reality. He did this even when those around him often claimed the task was impossible.

So it is with artists, oil painting artists, draftsmen, and creative people of all stripes. Creating something that never existed before, even if it is only within our own personal world, is our job description. It is our reason for being and we believe that by sharing our efforts publicly, we serve the greater good, despite cultural and economic signals to the contrary. Economic support for what we do is useful, but not a measure of the value of our ideas.

Historically, culture often lags behind the ideas and efforts of the artistic community. How could it not? Ideas move at two hundred miles an hour across the synapses of the brain, and giving physical form to our ideas need not take long. The key for all of us is to keep dreaming and imagining and believing in our vision, no matter what. We are the privileged ones, whose daring role it is to look at the disparate parts of the world and “connect the dots” into a new creation. This takes some courage, and discipline.

Fear is the enemy, and fear is the only force that can limit, and sometimes kill, creativity. We cannot allow fears of criticism or failure or economic losses to enter our studios and interfere with our creativity. We must carve out a sacred space or time within which we can be temporarily free of these fears and concerns, so that our imagination can be free to wander and dream. We have found meditation to be a powerful tool for sweeping the mental clutter into the corner so that we can walk around in our imaginations. Our art has improved because of this discipline. It is always the first 30 minutes of any day for us.

What about you? How do you get centered and sweep away the mental clutter? Leave a comment and let us know.

Please join us on The Artist’s Road for more interesting, informative and in-depth articles.

–John and Ann

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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.

31 thoughts on “It Can Kill Creativity

  1. Writing in my journal helps tremendously. My mind is like an overstuffed suitcase and journaling helps to get out the excess junk and then I’m ready to begin a project.

  2. i enjoyed your article mostly because i find what you wrote to be so very true. I do two forms of daily meditation. One is to clear out the clutter (although journaling helps a great deal with this) and the other is to build a workshop in your mind where you can go and creatively solve problems and deal with any other issues or fears that present themselves.

  3. i enjoyed your article mostly because i find what you wrote to be so very true. I do two forms of daily meditation. One is to clear out the clutter (although journaling helps a great deal with this) and the other is to build a workshop in your mind where you can go and creatively solve problems and deal with any other issues or fears that present themselves.

  4. I spent time with God, either listening to Him and writing what He tells me or meditating on some part of His word that I don’t quite understand. I tried the artist pages, but it took too much time away from my journaling. 😆 I enjoy spending time with other artists and my Papa is the ultimate artist — you know, the one who dreamed up all those plants and minerals and the earth and stuff. 😉

  5. Shortly after arriving in Oregon from Hawaii my sister June, her husband and I saw the early evening sky swirled exactly like Van Goghs Starry Night. The camera was grabbed pictures clicked; later to discover no film. I can attest that we viewed the same swirling air and cloud pattern which Van Gogh captured. It was a rare sight.

  6. Fear. Yes it is the killer of many good things. With it comes, anger, doubt and anxiety. I currently battle depression and anxiety and suffered several recent blows to my creativity to the point where I cannot even imagine picking up a pencil to write a phone number, much less sketch. The desire it still there but shrouded in a thick fog.

  7. To help understand your fear i suggest a book called “The Artists Way, A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron. Changed my life and helped me to understand how us artists or “creatives” operate. Soooo good!

  8. A brief reading of segments of Art & Fear before an artistic session can dispel artist’s low self esteem long enough to make something cool or not. It’s not the artists job to determine whether their work is good art or bad. Let others debate this tough question. The artists job is to create. Period.

  9. I take all the mental clutter into the studio with me. It is part of who I am. Through my painting I find harmony and pease of mind. To me, painting is almost a healing process

  10. I look at other artists techniques or ideas and embroider them with my own to come up with a new result that may or may not have a resemblance to the starting point. It is most important to act spontaneously when the inspiration blooms to capture the idea as it has just ripened into full flavor.

  11. In order to flee from the everyday clutter I have formed a sacred place in my studio located in my home, exhibiting beautiful books, a few paintings of mine and a few others of masterpieces I personally admire. In this way I feel the authors and artists represented are in constant conversation with me, this has a tranquilizing effect, in the end liberating and allowing for greater freedom of thought and emotions.

  12. I hope you don’t mind….I am stealing a couple of quotes to tape above my easel. The first is: “We are the privileged ones, whose daring role it is to look at the disparate parts of the world and “connect the dots” into a new a creation.” The second is: ” Fear is the enemy, and fear is the only force that can limit, and sometimes, kill, creativity.” I find them inspiring!!!
    Thank You,

    🙂

  13. I spend some time with God asking for guidance overall. Then I do a Tae Bo DVD and pray that God will get me through that, too. That gets me prepped for the day and ready for creativity. Yes, fear kills joy and the spirit of creativity. Have a blessed and creative day, everyone!

  14. I like to spend some time with God in the morning. Then I’ll do a Tae Bo DVD and pray that God will get me through it. That is what gets me primed, my mind clear and ready for a creative day. I hope that all of you will have a wonderfully fruitful, creative and blessed day!

  15. im just starting to draw i use to years ago for a tech school i went to…but i lost all the skills.Im trying to learn but it’s so hard.I doubt myself daily I try to make it perfect when i know it can never be perfect… I havent figured out what makes me creative yet…great article.

  16. Your post came at the perfect moment…I needed to hear something along these lines of thinking. Too many times we forget we are created to create by a great creator and not creating goes against our nature to do so. Thanks for the encouragement.

    B—

  17. I meditate everyday for a minimum of one half hour to one hour, yet I do at times become disheartened. It was a good article and I will work harder at letting go of my fear! Thanks.

  18. At last…!!!
    I have same line of thoughts….
    As Although we can make a good art work by just making what we can see….but we will never be satisfied by that…Reason i expect u know..
    Pleasure by Power of Imagination and satisfaction that follows cannot be compared …Artists who do that know its real value
    Moreover Not everyone can do art by imagination … It takes natural visualising powers as well as skills to convert visualized things into a hard copy which can be seen by everyone….:)

  19. At last…!!!
    I have same line of thoughts….
    As Although we can make a good art work by just making what we can see….but we will never be satisfied by that…Reason i expect u know..
    Pleasure by Power of Imagination and satisfaction that follows cannot be compared …Artists who do that know its real value
    Moreover Not everyone can do art by imagination … It takes natural visualising powers as well as skills to convert visualized things into a hard copy which can be seen by everyone….:)

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