How do you see your creative self ?


Thought provoking insightful comments are one of blogging’s few real rewards. Chamira’s comment on my post about film photos is the most recent. I realised the response I was typing as practically a blog post. His points are worth while enough to put this in a post. So here it is. This post is a response to the part of his comment where he asks:

I noticed whenever you discuss the artistic inclinations of your previous lives there is almost a sneering contempt for those ‘juvenile efforts’. It is a shame, as you clearly enjoyed and learned something from it. Why the snarky captions? Is it the fear that people might think you take yourself too seriously, or worse, that you have artistic pretensions?

I have to admit I would hate to be seen as someone who thinks of myself too seriously. Worse with with artistic pretensions. But my biggest fear is ending up developing artistic pretensions by gradually thinking of myself too seriously.

In ancient times spent a lot of time around people who did. I saw what awful stuff they kept cranking out. All the while patting each other on the back. The great Bukowski wrote a lot spearing these types. I guess my “sneer” at myself is to make sure I don’t fall into that trap. Because a long time ago I nearly fell into it.

Thankfully I had the fortune to meet a few great creative souls. Not globally famous but able to earn their keep with their work. Beyond their work, what inspired me the most was their humbleness and humour of not taking themselves too seriously. Even when the “profession” of being a full time “artist” required them to be.

I enjoy taking photos and painting. But I also know that creative stuff in any medium takes a ridiculous amount of time. It’s quite miserable when you know that you will never get the time to push the idea/theme to the “right level”. The level when the voices inside the head are stunned speechless. And you KNOW its “right” at a primal gut level. What other people think about it become laughably irrelevant. I’ve been to that place a few time. It’s a long climb and any sleep depravation needed to get there is worth it when you are 19-20.

It’s not sustainable with the other priorities of life. No painting is worth dragging one’s family into financial troubles. I will never under prioritise time with the kids to “creative” stuff. Saying “Thatha is too busy painting to play with you” to me is unthinkable. Its heartbreaking to think there are people out there who do that. There are people who prioritise their “art” over other aspects of living. I’m not one of them. It doesn’t feel right.

I’ve tried the “getting up 2 hours before dawn to make time for the creative stuff” thing. Not to mention other pitiful attempts at life hacking. None of them sustainable. You can’t operate in the “real” world on 2 hours sleep a day for too long. The results look forced and tired. Worse is to look at work that you KNOW is half baked because you’ll never have the time to bang away at it till it’s “right”.

The best I can do with build up in micro increments. 30 seconds bursts of activities that will build up over the years. Its like building the pyramids in 1mm layers of dust. Infuriating as it is, it keeps my nostrils above the waters of misery. In the long run that makes a difference – to me at least.

Never quite realised all this till the process of replying to Chamira’s comment. Many thanks to him for provoking this.

3 comments

  1. A long time ago I read or saw an interview with the geneticist Dr Steve Jones. He is an expert on this one species of snail that have shell marking that indicate their genetic heritage. He has studied them for 30+years.

    From what I can remember, he said he chose science over art because to be good at art you have to dedication, talent and luck, and also he didn’t think he would be that great.

    I think when he said ‘good’ he was thinking of contributing something worthwhile to the rest of humanity repository of art & knowledge – the seriously good stuff I guess.

    Instead, he decided to pursue science because whatever little bit of good work you did will add incrementally to the great pile of knowledge. And, even if you don’t get the Nobel prize &etc, there is always a good chance that your work will be picked up and built on by future generations.

    Well, that is a good argument for not pursuing a career as an artist – but it is only one persons argument.

    Anyway, I agree with you, it is not fair to make other people suffer because of your decisions.

    Although, there does seem to be a lot of suffering to produce the really good stuff (or may the suffering itself enables you to make that art) it needs to be done by the artist and not his immediate family!

    And by all accounts, you seem to be doing this already, slowly making your work layer by layer. It is great to know that you haven’t abandoned it, but are trying to work it around your life. In the future, you will have more time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you🙂 I agree. Personally I think being an scientist takes dedication and an analytical mind. That requires even more dedication to train. I know I have non of those things:/

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