Myth, good fortune and creativity

Post by Shelby Pizzarro for the Kind Kindred series

Have you ever had the burning desire to make something…anything…to create? Is creativity a feeling that visits you sporadically, unevenly, and manifests itself like water poured over taffeta? Have you hit a creative conundrum, and like me, have felt stranded and helpless wondering if you will ever have the good fortune to walk beside your Muse again?

Do you laugh at the notion that everyone has the ability to be creative? Everyone does, you know. Some people are just better at harnessing their inspired energy. They are better at seizing their fortunate opportunities or nurturing the creativity they see in others.

Just what is creativity? The formal definition is direct, to the point: The ability to cause to exist; originate. I think you will agree it is so much more. Egyptian dancer Samia Gamal said when she danced she felt as if she was praying. Her words resonate with countless individuals who feel all of the arts are a manifestation of prayer, and creativity is the method of expression. One thing is for certain, we feel the elusive quality of creation deep in our soul…and the more you try to tame it the more ethereal it becomes.


Being surrounded by creative people throughout my life is my good fortune. My maternal grandfather was a lover of all things artistic. A work of art in a museum, a beautiful view of the ocean at Hunters’ Island, New York, or a culinary delight he devised in his Brooklyn kitchen inspired his imaginative soul. He raised my Mom to treasure the Arts and to feel at home in galleries, museums, and libraries – a point of view she passed on to me. The excitement of the visual and performing arts is still a great part of her authentic self and I can’t imagine my Mom’s life without them.

My parents had the good fortune to meet. Their mutual interest in the arts was the basis of a long lasting marriage. My Dad’s passion was music, especially Jazz. He filled our home with the silken musical notes of the greats: Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, and songs from the Big Band era. Whenever I hear a particular piece of music, I can still envision my Dad enjoying the sounds that made his soul soar.

A Muse inspired them all. She was different and unique to their spirits, but a Muse nonetheless. Most importantly, they all created an environment in which the Arts could flourish…a safe, nurturing, and playful space where experimentation was encouraged and celebrated.

Carl Jung, the pioneering Swiss psychiatrist, expressed it best when he said, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with what it loves.”

Myth blankets the notion of what constitutes a creative mind. How often have we heard of the tragic genius, the tortured, penniless soul who as if by magic produced works that surged to completion without the need of correction? The romantic notion is appealing, but luckily, far from the truth.

The myth contends that very few people can truly be creative and if they are, misery is an integral part of the process. It also implies that creativity is simply for the gifted and the rest of us have no place in their world.

Although ingenious friends still bless my life, at times I struggle with the link to my Muse. This usually happens when I allow my mind to over analyze the method instead of just following the journey of my heart and soul. It is then that I take a few moments to pause and reflect.

Over the years I have searched for solutions to this exasperating dilemma. If you find yourself in this non-creative space, perhaps a few of the following steps will escort you back to your path:

INSPIRATION:

Rekindle your passion. Reconnect with the original sparks of inspiration that drew you to create in the first place. Surround yourself with the people and places that inspire you. In my studio, I display posters of the work that sets my heart free by the artists and thinkers I admire: Richard Amsel, Vincent van Gogh, Alphonse Mucha, Violet Oakley, the Pre-Raphaelites, Samia Gamal, Bill Bernbach, and Carl Jung. I posted quotes and saying that make me think and encourage me when I am at my lowest point. Viewing these prompts helps me to focus. Often time is just what I need to get me moving in the right direction.

Tactile methods of working through a fallow period can be hugely beneficial. Jung gathered and stacked stones from a lake to work through his creative block. On my desk, I have stones from both the Pyramids at Giza and the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the hospital that housed Vincent van Gogh. By meditating with these stones, I find the comfort and focus I need to begin thinking creatively.


We live in a digital age that wonderfully opens doors to a vista of possibilities! Start a Pinterest account. It is amazing where the “pins” can lead you. Google maps, in the street view, are a great source of inspiration for me. When I am stuck for ideas, or just feeling nostalgic, I often “walk” through my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. “Going home” rekindles the most delicious memories. Join groups, read Blogs (such as Kind Over Matter) and allow new ways of looking at things to fill your mind. You never know what ideas may come your way.

COLLABORATE:

Surround yourself with positive, inspired people. Nurture your creative spirit by doing the same for your colleagues. Truly gifted souls are generous with their talents and ideas. Share what you know. Flashes of inspiration are a two way street and often help to connect the seemingly unconnected leading to new discoveries.

Have someone who can be objective, and whose opinion you value, look at your work in progress. Have no fear! Another set of eyes can direct you to a view you may not have considered. A hidden treasure might just be waiting there for you.

Education is the portal to immeasurable potential. The more you learn the more insight you will have at hand. A benevolent mentor can help you think in unconventional ways. I have found encouraging communities locally as well as online.

WORK:

I enjoy a hands-on approach to creativity. “Doing” is the only way for me to progress through a block. Have the tools you need at hand and ready at your workspace. And that space can be anywhere…from a full blown state of the art studio to your kitchen table. Illustrator Richard Amsel liked to work on his lap in his living room. Wherever inspiration takes you and the method you find most motivating is where you should be.

Give yourself permission to do what pleases you. Let your creative mind play with what it loves. Paint, meditate, cook, dance, journal, exercise or sing. The list is endless. Practice makes “almost” perfect. Find inspiration in your imperfection. Artist Bob Ross often spoke of “happy accidents.” Although some of my “accidents” were anything but happy, they often led to techniques I never would have discovered without them.


REVISION:

Be ready to revise and revise again. Be fearless. Be mindful. Make art that represents you at this moment in time. Give yourself permission to return to your work, without judgment, knowing that it is not a failure if the current piece doesn’t meet your expectations. It is a process. We are all seekers in this mysterious voyage we call creativity.

LET YOUR MUSE PLAY:

Call your source of inspiration, your Muse, whatever you wish. Just wander with her. Relax and follow her direction. Open your heart to it by whatever means fuels your soul. Be open to new ideas and directions. You never know what might trigger that next “aha” moment.

But above all…PLAY.

Follow the thoughts and actions of Carl Jung. Play. Play through your darkest hour. Experience this magical creative journey with the joy and vivacity that only your good fortune can bring!

I am a great believer in Synchronicity and love the idea that it can lead to the most profound “Aha” moments we can experience in life and in Art.
As visual artist and dancer, I enjoy exploring the seduction of spirit and allow my Muse to guide the journey.
I am a graduate of the York Academy of Arts, York, PA and received further education at The Harrogate School of Arts at Harrogate College, UK. I am primarily a Printmaker, but now am exploring mixed-media and collage art. My work as a commercial illustrator incorporates both digital and conventional techniques.
Through my Blog, “Sisterhood of the Muse” my desire is to share what inspires me, entertain those who choose to visit, and perhaps spark the sense of wonder and creativity that dwells in us all.

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