We see films where the patient is being asked to tell the therapist what he sees as a series of Rorschach images are flashed before him. Ambiguous ink splats are seen as images that consistently reveal the patient’s view of life in general – revealing how he interprets life and what he thinks constantly about. Typically his proclamations for the subject matter of each image are slanted in the direction of violence, witches, sadness, loneliness, sex, butterflies, sex, flowers, or bugs having sex. Results can be funny to watch…or sad.
And so I ask myself sometimes if my Rorschach is stuck. It is a fine question to ask yourself. I certainly don’t want to see things in a consistently stereotypical way. Creatively speaking, as an artist and writer, it is a common problem to get stuck in a rut. You become comfortable. Life is hard so you crawl into your studio seeking refuge and a quiet place to hide. You escape into your world where you see things the way you prefer to see them. You do what you have always done because perhaps it brings you accolades and sales and peace of mind and quick therapy and an easy way to express your creativity, and an escape… You use the same tired techniques; you construct your subject matter, or your abstractions using consistently predictable methods that bring you to the quite similar results of the day before. Your artistic destination seldom changes. Your journey of creativity has dropped off imagination, experimentation and innovation somewhere along the bumpy road.
We all see things through the lens that is uniquely our own – we observe and gather inspiration, either externally or internally, in order to decide what to create and we attach our own moods, prejudices, preferences and peculiarities to those observations. It seems logical that if you are in a creative rut it might be the result of a narrow lens through which you are observing the world out there and the world in there. They say that you ARE that which you think constantly about. So if your days are spent in constant review of the past or the unsatisfying history of your life and how you have always seen things and how you have always done things then I believe you will get what you have always gotten, speaking creatively.
People who live their lives creatively are my favorite kind of people. They don’t have to be artists of course! In the words of Jack Kerouac:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”
That is a bit extreme and difficult to find all in one person (and sometimes you will find those kind of people in prison) but occasionally I find glimmers of it all in a person roaming the world freely and doing great things, and those are the people I am drawn to.
This is why travel and culture and broadening your horizons can never be a bad thing. This is why film and theater and concerts and reading are essential to staying alert and stimulated creatively. We all meet people, and I mean all kinds of people in all walks of life, not just artists, who never pick up a book, don’t travel, can’t get into films, don’t even cook much, seldom read the news…and can’t even decide what their favorite color is. When that happens to me I take it as a pretty big clue that sooner or later I will run out of things to talk about with that person. And if we don’t know by now that creative muscles need to stay toned for best results, then we lose out. Creativity requires exercise – use it or lose it. You cannot be aware of and appreciate alternatives to your tried and true predictable (and sort of pathetic) creative efforts if you close yourself off and see only what you have always seen up there on your personal Rorschach screen.
Title of Mixed Media Collage – SEA CHANGE