I haven’t made new Creative Wellness Resolutions since 2018, oops! Back then, I defined them as “bringing my focus to creative maintenance instead of artistic output.” My son was a few months from turning two years old, and as he gained more independence and a little language, my creativity started peeking around the corner. Interestingly, I’m in a similar season of life now, in a few months, my daughter will be two, and I feel the same desire to raise my head, look around, and be inspired.
I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, disclaimer: you need to be in the right mood. She theorizes that muses are energy out in the world looking for creators, and if you are open, they will find you. The dedication to courting, resonating with, and creating with these muses is what constitutes a creative life, not the public recognition of being labeled an “artist.”
Have you ever had the experience of hearing the same idea from multiple sources, in different ways, over and over? Like the universe is saying: “Hey you! Listen to this!” For me, it was this idea of keeping the conduit open to the Muse, and not letting the noise of modern life drown out my inner voice. The pursuit of making room in my head for inspiration, vibrating on my own frequency, prioritizing the brilliant little voice, feel sooo self-indulgent, but declaring the intention feels essential. Which perfectly transitions to Creative Wellness Resolution number one…
Turn Off the Noise
Last year I realized I’d been filling my mental space with A LOT of content. I used podcasts, audiobooks, endless Instagram scrolling, and TV as escapism in my “free” time. Every solo drive, every chore, even while I was getting ready in the morning, somebody else’s content was occupying my headspace. Though I succeeded in vacating my endless to-do lists and 2020 anxiety, I also completely drowned out my inner dialogue.
This year I have stopped listening to anything in the morning, including during my commute, and it has been AMAZING. I always do my best thinking in the car, but I had been ignoring it. Now, I just ponder the day’s events or ruminate on my feelings (this book), and often I get a sparkle of inspiration. It has taken a surprising amount of willpower to break the habit of automatically playing The Daily while brushing my teeth; it’s been even more challenging than dry January, which has been comparatively easy. In the silence, I got the idea to reach out to this amazing Illustrator for an interview, which led me to this fascinating book, which led me to try Zoom Figure Drawing (loved it!), which inspired my next Creative Wellness Resolution.
This Resolution should be called “embrace the process,” but as a designer by day, I struggle with loving the making over the finished product. So, “Draw More”: While researching for my interview with Matthew Forsythe, I came across a portfolio he reviewed in which he recommended High Focus Drawing. I haven’t done any figure drawing in the fifteen years since art school, but something told me to buy the book. It is a dense, academic instructional text that leans into the theory of figure drawing, inferring you have already mastered the technical skills. According to James McMullan, figure drawing is all about the study and sketching process of the individual model, not cultivating your style or creating a finished piece. This is the opposite philosophy of my past instruction in fashion illustration. I loved it. I savored it, reading a handful of pages each evening by the fire, sans cocktail, after the kids had gone to bed. Since we’re still in a pandemic, I found a few Zoom figure drawing sessions to try. Getting back into figure drawing was challenging; I was out of practice, but I leaned into McMullan’s process-driven ideology and thoroughly enjoyed myself! I have another session next Wednesday. 2021: Draw more and (try to) embrace the process.
I miss travel, everyone misses travel, and though some people travel during the pandemic, we don’t right now. Well, we don’t travel the way we used to: beaches, family, planes, Europe, and shopping, but we have had two little getaways this year. Everyone has a different safety threshold during this time, and ours included escaping (without the kids!) to cabins in the middle of nowhere. Within an hour of being away from home, it was like I had regained fifty percent of my brain. With no schedule and no sights to see, we cooked, took walks, read, painted, had picnics: it was heavenly. We’ll see what 2021 brings, but even if we can’t go more than a few hours away for more than a few days, I hope to have getaways this year.
I also love what Brittany Luse has to say about setting intentions instead of resolutions. What are your intentions or resolutions for 2021, creative or otherwise?
All photos by Berry Thomas, 2020
*What? No Amazon links? No: All book links go to BookShop.org, an online bookstore that helps support the fragile ecosystem of bookselling and keeps local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. Many of the prices are comparable to Amazon, and you’re supporting independent bookshops. Power to the People.