This is the first in a series of posts loosely based on Sebastian Michaels’ photo artistry program: Awake. One of the things I love about Sebastian and this program is that it’s about living the artistic life instead of just being about the techniques of art.
Life is busy. It takes a lot of time and effort to support the necessities of life, and, for many people, that means that our creativity gets put on the back burner. I didn’t recognize it then but there was a gift hidden in the chaos of my husband’s death and the coming financial crisis of 2008: TIME.
Desperate for distraction, I launched myself into a digital collage workshop focused on photography and Photoshop. What I found was the fit I had been looking for in my travels through cooking, gardening, various musical instruments, needlepoint, quilting, drawing, painting, and mosaics. Finally, something I could actually do!
And, while I have loved making digital art and even slipped into a couple of galleries and eventually managed to say the words, “I am an artist,” without completely choking, I still never took it seriously. The great gift of the course that I’m taking with Sebastian is that he is asking … nay demanding … that we take our art and our artist selves seriously. It makes me tremble with fear and excitement.
Replace the idea of "art" with "creativity" and I think this same idea touches every single one of us. While I am no longer a religious person, I stumbled across these words from Genesis when I was a child and have contemplated them extensively all the years since.
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …
At first what fascinated me was the plural pronoun, but then the question that became my real focus was how we were created in the likeness of God … the Creator. Surely not in the sense of a frail human body or tempestuous emotional likeness. Where I wound up was that we are all creators (small c), creating our own lives, our own family and homes, our own stories, our own beauty. Creativity is the way we love the world as well as ourselves.
You are creative and you can decide to take your creativity seriously. Even if you don’t want to practice any sort of art, writing, music or dance, you can take the process of creating your life seriously … regardless of where you are, who you are, how old you are, how smart you are, or how physically fit you are.
This week, Sebastian asked the question “What keeps you from creating art every day?” Change it to “What keeps you from creating the life you want to live every day?” and think about how you would answer it.
Before I opened email or Facebook, I sat with that question and began to answer it. Here is the resulting conversation of my thoughts in yellow and the answers in bold.
— Not believing that it matters; that I matter.
First of all, it matters to you. This is your life and you want to live it as an artist. If it doesn’t matter to you, it will never matter to anyone else. It is your job to live the live you want and share your joy of creation with your audience … which could mean just one other friend who likes what you’re doing.
— Believing it’s too late to be an artist.
Ummm … Grandma Moses? You’re still breathing and all your parts are working. This is now. Now is never too late for to do or be what you want right now, even if it means just taking the first step in that direction.
— I didn’t go to art school.
Yes you did. You’ve been in art school your whole life, assembling impressions, feelings, and insights. You’re in art school right now. If you’re learning and practicing the craft you want to master, you’re in school.
— Yeah, but, that’s different.
Why? Because you’re not going to get a diploma or a certificate? Because some great man hasn’t given you his seal of approval? Because some museum isn’t begging you to come exhibit your wonders? Who the frog cares? If you want to make art, make art, and love it like it’s your first born child.
— Okay. Okay. I get it. Stop whining and make art. Right?
Right! Go forth and prosper, Grasshopper.
— eye roll, grinning
I would love to hear your thoughts about how you would answer that question.
"It’s time to claim your place in this world.
Go create something extraordinary that shows that."
— Sebastian Michaels
Sebastian Michaels suggests that we do what he calls “finger exercises,” … simple quick digital sketches … warm-ups, like doing scales on an instrument. “Tumbling” was inspired by a painting I saw in a hair salon. I wanted to play with spheres so this started out as a simple exercise. Then, it got serious. You never know where play will wind up. How could you “play” with creating your life?