By: J. Marlando
I am not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, I have been a creative person all my life. I started as a standup comic then went into acting followed by producing and directing while writing all along the way. Over the years I have worked with thousands of creative people and would-be creative people. I have never made a gigantic hit but I have worked and made a living, a miracle of miracles for most of us creators.
I’ve made most of my living from ghost writing but I’ve been well compensation for documentary writing and even for a couple of big screen films. I tell you this not to brag but for making the point that we creators must be prepared to do it all unless we strike the big time and become John Grishamsor Chers
Actually creativity is the art of imagination become manifest. The dancer, for example, will never be the true artist no matter how hard he or she works or how technically perfect he or she becomes unless he or she become the dance itself. I will attempt to clarify thus statement as this text unfolds.
I recall my theater days when the audiences invariably paid more attention to one young lady in the chorus line than the others even though they were all doing the same choreography, wearing the same costumes and so forth.
I have told this story before but it is so interesting since the young dancer I’m talking about was not any technically better than any of the other dancers. They were all quite good! So the phenomena of her so consistently being noticed by the audience had to be metaphysic in nature—she carried no goals of Broadway or the movies with her on stage as, for her, dancing was not at all a means to an end. She simply loved to dance and because of this she was never the performer performing but, if you will, always the performance itself; not doing but…being.
The painter who does not become the painting will never be a master just as the writer who does not become the writing will never reach his or her creative potential. In regard to this, I do a lot of reading and I can immediately tell when a book or article has been an intellectual exercise. This not only applies to nonfiction but to fiction as well. Indeed, the writer who has blocked out his beginning, middle and end (like a college student studying structure) will most typically end up with a mediocre read. My wife will sometimes read two books per week but every now and then she will say, “I just can’t seem to get into the story,” and a common reason she can’t is because the writer had not been into the story when it was written.
If you happen to be an InfoBarrel writer as I am, you can readily see, sense and experience articles that have been intellectually concocted by the writer as opposed to those articles that have arrived from the writer’s passions; the kind of material that has written itself at least during 80% of the creative process.
What I am saying here is true of all art, especially painting. As an ex-reviewer I have seen a great many paintings and have attempted the art myself. I painted some interesting and even nice paintings but I never reached the plateau of being able to let loose and permit the work to unfold naturally. This is true of the vast majority of painters and why some paintings pull the viewer into the canvas and most don’t. On the other hand I have watched painters who become the painting and so, when they work, one can “feel” the painting flowing through them and landing on the canvas in the most extraordinary way.
With all the above in mind, it is my intent to assist the interested reader in the “art” of transcending the “doing” of his or her creative work and becoming one with the work itself.
The Creator and the Creation
Imagination is the necessary tool that all creative people need to nourish and exercise in order to advance their creative abilities. Imagination can also work against the artist, however.
Johann von Schillerthe father of German literature, realized that he had to become more childlike in his writing in order to permit his imagination to work freely. His desire as an adult was to reach the point where artifice returned to being nature or, in other words, where his writing evolved naturally from him as opposed to his trying to create clever works to impress his readers.
In this, he realized that children “naturally” drift into the world of their own making be it a war with toy soldiers or imaginary journeys around the world. One reason why a child can so readily create from his or her imagination is because he or she is aloof from observation
As a result, the artist creates freely only to the extent of his or her willingness to risk. This is why so many people say, I just have no talent at all. Everyone has an abundance of talent of course but the fears of being vulnerable to the judgments of others can push the creative urge deep into the shadows of the psyche. How many times have we all heard someone say, “I always wanted to write but I just never had a talent for it…” When we understand that nearly everything we do or don’t do in our lives is based on affirmations we are quickly reminded of the old adage that tells us if we say we can or if we say we can’t, we are always right.
In regard to what I am attempting to say here, I believe that Norman O. Brown says it far better than I do:
The artist is the man who refuses initiation
through education into the existing order,
remains faithful to his own childhood
being, and thus becomes a human being
in the spirit of all times, an artist.
As the child is forever capable of drinking tea out of invisible cups, the adult creator must also be willing to let loose of the world of stuff and enter absolutely into the world of imagination. In some ways this reflects the brilliant observation that Joseph Chilton Perce makes: Mind mirrors the universe that mirrors man’s mind. Creator and Created give rise to each other.
For the writer this means that he or she does not strive to concoct and manage the story but rather becomes one with it and permits it to unfold on its own accord. Let’s say for example, the writer is creating a car chase. If he or she frees the imagination and simply follows the chase, the chase will inevitably be more interesting and exciting than had the writer attempted to control the chase through consciously orchestrating it.
Nearly all stories will tell themselves once the creator sees him or herself more of a medium than a writer; nearly all paintings will unfold dynamically on the canvas once the painter is able to release his or her control of the process and is able to permit the paint and brushes to express themselves freely. Remember in all art forms, creator and created give rise to each other.
Certainly all artists must acquire the basics of his or her craft and become proficient at them before they will be able to apply what we’ve been talking about here. The dancer can never become the dance as long as he or she must concentrate on steps or any part of the choreography. The painter who does not have a comprehensive understanding of light and shadow, prospective and form will never be able to let go of controlling the brush and paint. My favorite example of this is the professional ice skater. I am personally awed at the grace and beauty, the very art form of the master ice skater
A reason it looks so easy is because most of those skaters have practiced enough to be one with their performance; they no longer have to concentrate on what they are doing and can most simply, let flow. They have become an extension of their skates and the ice they are skating on so what we are seeing is the activity of that relationship.
The point here is that before any of us can reach that state of merging with our art, we must own the mechanics of what we are doing. Indeed, before the artist can cast away the rules of his or her craft, he or she must be, in the least, casually proficient at them.
The writer must write. The dancer must dance, the painter must paint; the actor must act and so on. The old adage is wrong however—practice does not make perfect, it merely opens the inner-doors to greater creativity. Perfection does not emerge until the artist can abandon his or her ego-focus and lose him or herself in the experiences of whatever he or she is creating. When the artist is as amazed and surprised at his creation ever as much as other observers are, he or she has in fact become…the artist.
Aspects of Talent
I have always disagreed with the observation that some people are born with talent and some are not. Talent is not a genetic prejudice as some say or a special gift of the gods as others have said. We all have within us unlimited potential to do and be whatever we decide to do and be. There are many exceptions of course—for example, a one armed person will never become a classical pianist just as a one legged person will never be chosen for the chorus line: all this means in the “talent” department is that those particular people need to choose another mode of expression. In fact, when I was in Las Vegas working with a band, one of the most impressive drum players I have ever encountered had but one leg.
In view of all this I convinced that there is no such thing as talent, a least in the way we ordinarily think of the term: I believe that unless we are born with some sort of a brain/mind injury we are all endowed with unlimited possibilities in our potentials. One person opens to art, another to medicine, another to labor another to mathematics and so forth. In this way what we ask for we receive. And, sometimes it is not we who do the asking—stage mothers, for example, are notorious for turning their ordinary children into extraordinary talents. Once again a clear indication of validity in the adage, if we think we can or if we think we can’t, we are always right.
I view of the above, aptitude then is a result of desire, the more desire we have to accomplish a thing that more aptitude we have for it. When Mom says of a messy, terrible crayon painting, “Oh, how beautiful, you’re just so talented,” the child typically will start improving because he or she desires the praise and attention. Master painters like Georgia O’Keeffe
In this same regard tell a boy enough times that he is “daddy’s little mechanic” and watch his talent for mechanics grow. (Yes, this can work in reverse if a child is for some reason rebellious. This, however, is a subject for another article).
The major point here is that desire alone is what taps into each of our potentials and, if you will, the more we tap, the more “natural” talent it seems we have.
Stefani Germanotta did not magically turn into Lady Gaga nor did little, Francis Gumm
Incidentally, none of this means that all the desire and hard work in the world will bring you fame or fortune. It merely means that you too have already the potential within you to become whatever you truly desire to become and to what level of expertise you truly wish to reach. The operative word here is obviously “truly”since artistic whims will never produce masters such as Louis Armstrong or Pablo Picasso.
A Hypnosis for Artistic Potential
Imagine your potential as being the size of a dew drop in your consciousness. The dew drop, however, contains every possibility there is—you can choose, for a million and one reasons, to become the thief or the theologian or the thespian or anything else that attracts your interests. For purposes here, we will say that you choose to be an artist of some kind—a dancer, writer, painter, sculptor or you name it.
You will begin with only a dew drop of skills—perhaps you can bang out some simple tune on the piano but you yet need to be able to read notes and give the music the timing and dynamics it needs. And so you begin by learning the scale—a boring but necessary task but what has happened is that the dew drop has expanded into the size of a grape. The more you give, the more you get!
Your real desire however is not to be a pianist but rather a doctor—when you begin learning about medicine the dew drop again expands. Remember potential can be likened to a massive warehouse of your possibilities—it is always you who decides what you will activate and what you won’t. For example, at a certain age you decide that you want to ride a two-wheeler bicycle. And so, you delve into your potential to accomplish that goal. At first you are wobbly and probably take few falls but then, one day, you are riding without even thinking about it. You have become one with the bike and your little dew drop of potential for bicycle riding becomes the size of the universe. You have it in you to reach this kind of potential no matter what you choose to do. The way you know that you have reached your potential is when your creativity can be likened to riding a bicycle in that you no longer have to think about it and your art begins to flow through you as opposed to from you!
A major goal of art is to let go of controlling it. This has happened when the dancer is able to become the dance and the poet the poem. Some people are able to do this early in their work while others can take a lifetime—it depends, I believe, on desire and commitment. This is the difference between cooks, brick layers, jugglers, writers, designers and you name it. When the cook, we can say, becomes one with his or her cooking, like Lady Gaga has become one with her performing both have mastered their art and by mastering their art they are no long in the process of “doing” but rather in the activities of “being.”
Reaching this universal potential which is within all of us begins with learning the basics so well that they can unfold for us without any thought or intention and we can therefore become one with creative process; not the creator but the creativity itself. When we reach this plateau the fears of rejection and disapproval simply go away.
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