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.|
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.
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–John and Ann