I am a maker, a creator…an artist. I am not, however, a great artist. I’m not even sure I’m a good one. In fact, objectively I think I’m probably not really even mediocre – there are thousands if not millions of people that can draw better than I can, paint better than I can, and pretty much do anything artistic better than I can.
I don’t say this for attention or to argue with anyone that likes my art. I LOVE that some people like my art. I am not looking for anyone to tell me I am a good artist because it wouldn’t matter. It is what I think and feel about my abilities and it just doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
I feel like my skill level is pretty much beginner art student level. I know some of the tools and techniques, but I’ve not got the patience to really master most of them and create amazing, photo realistic art that makes me or anyone else go “ahhhh”.
But I don’t really want to. I think photos are wonderful – but to me, for me, making art that looks like a photo of the real world is just copying – even if you do it brilliantly…it’s not something new. I love to see things in the world differently, and take photos of things in a different way – but they are still just capturing something that already existed before I came along.
Someone Else Has Already Done That
I used to hate it when I would make something and then find out a thousand other people thought of that thing first or already made a better one. It became clear to me that I am not an inventor – someone else had ALWAYS come up with it first, no matter what I thought I had just invented. I used to let that stop me from creating, until I learned that it just doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter whether I am a good artist or a great maker or the first one to do that thing…because whether I’m good at it or not, it’s a core element of who I am. I’m a creative spirit – whether or not I excel at creating is almost irrelevant. I have always made things “out of my brain” (as my daughter put it when she was a toddler). I didn’t really know that meant I was creative, though. I used to think that one had to draw to be creative…I didn’t realize that the fact that I made everything up as I went along was kind of the defining factor. I didn’t learn to channel the creativity for a while, but it was always there.
I’ve been “making” and creating my entire life, from stories and clothes for myself to arts and crafts and birdhouses and snowmen… or some rigged up contraption to solve a problem in the kitchen. I never made something that was true to a pattern or recipe. Not because I was rebellious – just because my brain wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t make it through a whole thing without having too many of my own ideas that I just HAD to express somehow.
When Cooking Is Not A Chore (Which Isn’t Often)
Cooking! I don’t really like to cook, but it might be where my creativity shows up the most, oddly enough. Most of the time cooking feels like a chore or like someone is MAKING me do it…and I hate that more than anything. It feels like a chore about 98.9% of the time, and I’d rather be doing practically anything else, including cleaning! (I also hate to clean – but I really, REALLY like having a clean space, so to have that I have to clean, and yada, yada, yada.)
Anyway – cooking. Every once in a while I get an idea, and I have to make it. Or I actually FEEL like cooking, and I make something up with the stuff I have on hand. Without fail, THESE are the dishes that my family and I love the most…but there’s a dark side. A real problem.
I never know how to replicate what I did. When I am cooking in that particular mode, I’m not only not following a recipe, I’m only following my instincts and my gut and the idea that I had…and I rarely remember what I did to get the final result. My family has tried to make me write things down as I go, but that ruins the whole experience. I need to let things fly – literally – the kitchen almost always looks like a hurricane hit and exploded the flour container.
You should see the walls and floor and my shirt when I paint, too! Paint gets everywhere, and I don’t even know how it got there.
On the rare occasions when that creative storm aims itself at cooking and I make something wonderful, well, it stops there. If I try to recreate the thing I made it is rarely totally successful. I can get close – but it’s never really QUITE as good, and it has already become a chore, so I don’t want to keep trying and perfecting it, I want to move on to the next thing. Usually the next thing is NOT in the kitchen.
My Best Art Is Unplanned – As Is My Best Life
My art is like that, too. The stuff I love the best is the stuff I don’t “try” on. In fact, very, very often, when I try, I make something lacking the flow and energy that I like the best in the art that I do. It falls flat somehow.
The stuff I do off the cuff, without really trying, just because I am doodling and going with the flow – that is the art that I love the most. I have found it is also the art that practically creates itself. It also tends to be the stuff other people respond to the most.
There is no plan, there is no anxiety in it…it is just lines and shapes and colors that take form in front of my eyes. Very, very rarely is there any kind of direction. Yet, in my life, I feel like I have to have a plan for everything.
WAIT – I just read something telling. I wrote: “There is no plan, there is no anxiety in it”. Does that mean that plans inherently have anxiety in them, for me? IT DOES MEAN THAT!!! OH my gawd… I get terribly anxious when there is a plan because if I fail at the plan then something terrible might happen. I don’t know what – but if there is a plan, then I have to control every minute detail so I can control the intended outcome and make it PERFECT.
OK. Epiphany complete. Back to the planned…well, shit. I planned on writing something with a point, and look what I’ve done now. I’m all over the place! Oy.
I Must Have A PLAN For Life
That’s right. You read right. Counter to every natural element of my being, I tell myself I’m supposed to have a plan, know where I’m going and how to get there and CONTROL it all.
You can probably guess how well that works out. So, this is the lesson I learned from making art – that the best stuff happens without a plan. The question I ask myself now is: “How do I apply that to my life and still pay the bills?”
Life isn’t like art. Some things need structure, and sometimes you need a plan. But, I just made this egg thingy for lunch that was some weird cross between bread pudding and a frittata, and it was AWESOME, and I really have no idea if I’ll be able to make it ever again.
To make that lunch, I needed the ingredients and tools and a basic knowledge of how things fit together, and how the oven works. I needed to know that a certain temperature would probably work best, and a certain amount of time baking would ensure that the eggs were cooked through.
Maybe There Is A Way To Have No Plan…But Plan On It???
So here’s what I think: Maybe I’m a better artist than I think I am. In other words, maybe I have skills I’ve learned about how to use my tools, that I didn’t even know I was learning because I was just messing around. I can cook the way I do because I learned the basics – thanks in large part to my incredibly organized mom, who had me cook Sunday dinner every Sunday for well over a year, before I left home to go live on my own.
I didn’t really know I was learning, but I knew ALL the basics by the time I lived alone. Same with taking care of a car, paying my bills, having a bank account. The structure was all there.
So I need to design my life to be free flowing within a plan and structure? Or I need to learn all the basics, and then just trust that I’ll be OK without a plan??? I can’t function without a place to live and food to eat. I need to PLAN to not have a plan. I need to create a safe place to let my creativity flow, and I need to trust that I will learn the tools as I go because that’s just what happens.
How To Succeed Without Having A Plan
I’m not a planner and ANY time there is a plan, I ruin it. Ask anyone. Ask the estranged “used to be” hubby – he HATED that about me. At least at first he did. He claims to have gotten used to it, but I’m not sure he ever LIKED it. He was a planner…oddly enough, I was better with money and forcing us to adhere to structure like pretend grown-ups, so go figure.
Maybe he just gave up. I don’t know – and I don’t really feel like asking him right now. The point is – I’m not a planner. Case in point – I DID plan on being with him for the rest of my life…look how well THAT is turning out. SO. I need to embrace that, take the lesson I learned from doing art, and stop trying.
Yeah…doesn’t really seem like a really solid plan, does it? “Stop Trying”. That’s it? How the fuck am I supposed to stop trying? Stop planning? Stop … just stop. Just. Stop.
Breathe. Think for a moment.
SO. I am an artist, a creator, a maker. I don’t like following other people’s rules or recipes or instructions. I learn the tools I need as I go, without even realizing I’m doing it most of the time.
I learned that about myself by making art. Trying just doesn’t really work for me. So how do I go forward in life without trying?
Here’s The Plan:
- Make sure I have and know how to use the tools that I need.
- Feel like it – want it.
- Do it in the moment, without hesitation or knowing what it will look like when it’s done.
- Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.
Yeah. That just might work. Gosh, I really hope reincarnation isn’t a thing, though, because I’ll NEVER be able to make this again!