Saturday, February 14, 2009
A Passion for Clay And Creativity
What keeps us creating? Why do some of insist on trying to make a living with clay when it is so difficult? What is the force behind creativity?
I was talking to Tom, in Costa Rica, wonderful sounding board that he is and he pointed out maybe the answer is in my own back yard.
My son, Ian, is a true artist. Is it genetic or learned? I don’t know but his father and I have certainly given him the tools for being an artist. That is the only thing he wants to be. Nothing else really matters to him. He is passionate about art and it appears to be inborn. Or is it?
When he was two years old he was in a baby snuggly and we were handing out art scholarships to students at East Tennessee at McClung Museum.
The kid was exposed to more art shows and book stores by far than most people.
Whenever we went to restaurants we would do what we called “add ons” which consisted of drawing on a napkin and passing it back and forth. Most of the time there were more doodles on the sides of his school notes than there were notes.
Ian’s survival skills were incredible. He was always did and does still march to the beat of a different drummer. Suffering through teachers who were not like minded or did not appreciate his independent working skills, he did not care what they thought. Adult artists always had to earn his respect through their art work. He did not produce as much art I school as he did at home on his own. He would stay up all night in his room, producing paintings, drawings, lino prints , mazes anything and everything he could think of in the privacy of his bedroom. In college he stayed up all night following his bliss, painting and photographing his face like a crazy boy. He created these contorted self portraits night after night. That project later got him into one of the 5 best art schools in the country. And he experiments with all kinds of ideas and materials all the time even at 26 years old.
The ideas flow and his mind keeps clicking. He would rather make art than eat drink or sleep. He is passionate about creating. He has to create or get depressed or go crazy. He has a true passion for creating art.
It is a very American thought process to answer who are you with what we do for a living. I am a teacher, a carpenter, a stay at home mother etc. Somehow artists can hardly answer the question in any other way. Is it just a vocation or is it who we are?
I can hardly go anywhere without relating what I am doing to art in some way. There is no other way for me to think. I don’t want to think any other way.
There are so many reasons we create. My friends Susan and Ron and I bounced off a few more ideas coming from three different creative areas. Art, gardening and home building. It is all creating and still I try and figure out what creates this passion. What keeps us motivated to do our thing.
Sometimes it is simply for pleasure and joy. And of course there is the fun involved in the process. We just want to do it because we like doing it. It may be in clay, the garden or the kitchen. And. It keeps us from being bored.
My friend Gini whose daughter died at a very early age used clay as therapy. There is something special that happens as we re-connect with the earth.
My students tell me so many things while their hands work the clay. The hands work and stay busy and their personal thoughts flow to my ears.
It is therapy for the troubled mind.
And then there is the precious ego. It can be an ego trip for a some people especially when their talent is extraordinary and recognized. The ego trip can be fine or a bit irritating to others. Often times there is a pleasure in sharing your skills and work with others. And many take pride in handing down information as they teach it.
It can be a connection with eternity. When I think about the thousands of pots I have made in the last 30 or so years, I realize that many will outlast me. I did not create for this reason but it is interesting to think about. And, the fact is I don’t know which of the pots will outlast me or if all the pots will outlast me.
If you want to look at it in a 60’s way it can be considered an escape or perhaps a way to be in the now. It is fun to build construct and create no matter if it is working in a garden, building a house or creating a mug on the potter’s wheel.
Do you relate to a creative process? You can choose an enjoyable walk to get the creative juices flowing.
It is enjoyable to experience the creative process adding meaning to life, a deeper more meaningful life and to escape the boring.
Creating makes me feel great and gives us all something to look forward to.
The journey can be an incredible experience. And in this journey you must have loyalty and devotion to your art.