the creative act


listening to: merry christmas, mr. lawrence - ryuichi sakamoto

i finished "the creative act" by rick rubin a few days ago. this is not a review. just wanted to note down a few thoughts and quotes.


i didn't write it down exactly, but in an attempt to disarm the fear/perfectionism about creating, he said something like "the work is an expression of a current self, a snapshot in time". meaning you can't do it wrong, whatever you do will be what it needs to be, and also will not represent Who You Are for ever and ever, so you don't have to try and do it Just Right. i don't have these fears, but it did resonate with me.

i mostly just work in sketchbooks and i do feel them... end? finish? at some random point, sometimes quite early in the sketchbook. it's more like... i am now different, and what's already in the sketchbook is slightly off-putting to me, or discordant with what i want to do next. it feels constraining, like i have to keep it consistent, despite things no longer flowing from that same place/in the same direction. i've had great fun making small sketchbooks and exploring things across the limited number of pages, they feel much more free and experimental. but also i do enjoy having my different "seasons" all collected together in one sketchbook. so it's a bit of a dilemma, a bit of a tug-of-war, between keeping things all in one place for future inspiration, and wanting to be free to explore whatever wants to be explored. (it helps to alternate sketchbooks? even if i'm not going to continue with Sketchbook B's theme, it's enough to know that i'm no longer doing whatever i was doing in Sketchbook A, it's... freeing enough).


another quote was "do what you can with what you have. nothing more is needed". and i 100% agree. i'm never as creative as when i dig through whatever leftovers i have lying around, scratching my head how to use them up in satisfying ways. but there's a different dilemma here - with the recent decluttering i thought maybe i should just throw out The Piles, The Boxes. dusty vials of ink samples and crinkled up scraps of paper. it all takes up so much space. would that be wasteful, or an acceptable "solution" in a grand project of decluttering once every x years? would i still have enough to be creative with? (i think so). or would it be a temptation to purchase new things to re-fill the stash? and what about the whole "enrichment of the enclosure"? if we need novelty and covid doesn't allow for a lot of experiences out there, if enrichment means bringing things into the house, are things that are a) use-up-able and b) serve creation and expression not the best type of things to acquire?

ultimately i know i need very little. i could do a lot of my art digitally. when i traveled last month i thoroughly enjoyed my daily drawings (shitty pixel brush, 3 color limited palette). i could get rid of a whole lot of stuff and be fine. so i might just do that and deal with any potential purchasing temptations later, if (when) they arise...


lastly: "think to yourself: i'm just here to create." i don't exactly remember the context, probably again about not attaching any special story and value to the result, just focusing on the fun of the process? but context aside, that's half my personal understanding of life in general. the first part of "the meaning of life" - experience it. take everything in. enjoy what you can (sometimes the bad parts have their own type of enjoyment as well.) the second part - express yourself, create, share. doesn't even have to be art. i create warmth and safety for those i can. i try to create a supportive environment (literally, physically). i make meals and plan opportunities for experiences. and i make my little art. i don't mean the "little" to devalue it. i mean even the little art of a regular person scratching away in their sketchbook literally is The Point of life. experience things to fuel whatever will come out from the pen next. then let it out, maybe even for others to experience? it's that simple.

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