Making With Others = Key to Consistent CreativityFeb 13, 2023
I'm not quite sure about your dreamy visions, but most of mine include some version of the maker part of me. It's here that I notice small and strange beauties, where I really see. I'm wearing messy studio clothes, mind wandering, sketches laid out like roadmaps, marks clear & confident. I am lost in the very best way.
This dreamy version of me does exist, but for way longer than I'd care to admit - hardly ever. Despite falling in love with making in my teens, obtaining an undergrad degree in sculptural Fine Arts, and graduating with a Master’s in Art Therapy from one of the most prestigious art schools in the nation - adulting went on to squeeze the creative life blood out of me.
I yearned to make, could smell the clay, kept my sketchbook barely semi-active, had brief bouts of art production that didn't last, dreamed of 1,000 versions of a perfect little studio. And yet my daily bandwidth just couldn't stretch far enough. I am only one person, my childs' only mother, responsible for half my family's income…. You know the drill - 21st century living leaving the well of creativity bone-dry.
I've had a couple dark nights of the soul grieving what felt like the loss of an artful, unscripted life. And these moments weren't about missing the youthful late-night cigarette outside the studio or seeing my work hanging in a gallery (though both hold a nostalgic sweet-spot); I grieved a wandering mind, the space to dream, having a vision in mind and artfully seeing it through to the end. I grieved simply noticing, feeling in awe, the sweet ache of recognizing something beautiful.
The thing is, as a Creative there is literally nothing else that can fill the place that art-making satisfies in us. Nothing. We can either leave that part of us gnawing & empty or we can make so that we feel like a whole person.
Online Art Group Came to Life
A few years ago, after reaching creative rock-bottom, I finally figured out how to stick with my creative practice at this stage in adulthood. And it didn’t involve a beautiful light-filled studio all mine or hours of unrushed time or even feeling inspired. The secret ingredient turned out to be… making with others at a committed and scheduled time each week. That’s it. Kind of like having some work-out buddies who are counting on seeing you at 6am even if you’re dragging (not my story but damn I’m always impressed by these people…).
So alas, once the power of making with others sank into my weekly cadence, holy smokes the relief was SO REAL; I was finally making room in my life for my creativity practice, and it wasn’t a fleeting passion project abandoned a few weeks in. Drawings were getting started and finished, scarves were getting made and gifted. And the weight of that aching disconnection from my creativity vanished. Not only was I feeling more plugged into artful living, but my energy on the whole was freed up as I was finally tending to an important part of my identity - my maker self.
So if I impart one hack or tip to get you started on the road to infusing your life with much-needed creativity, let it be this - make with others regularly, schedule that time in and protect it, and show up EVEN WHEN you’re grumpy, tired, or uninspired. Our creativity is available to us even when we’re not in the mood, even when we’re tired or overwhelmed. And much like exercise, it’s a rare occurrence that you’ll finish a making session without feeling renewed on some special level.
Whether you’re making with a few neighbors, gathering with old or new friends on Zoom, or joining me online in MAKE - let the connection and presence of others help hold you accountable to your creativity. Your life will undoubtedly be all the richer for it.