Sep 20, 2022
Self-inquiry towards art creating process. ｜ 对创作的思考与认知的变迁
Dec 6, 2022 07:41 AM
What does it mean to be creative?
I love sketching and graphic design since I was a child, and I especially feel pleasure while drawing a line without moving the mind. During my years in middle school, I created many works that I appreciated.
However, it was since 18 years old that I could not create anymore.
Whenever I wanted to sketch, those technical stuff including themes, composition, and contrast filled my mind, preventing me from going further. The more “skills” and “techniques” I learned, the more I could not stop critiquing and examining my paintings. As a result, sketching became a pain for me.
I didn’t realize it until 2022. Although designing for student club or client work for the past three years, the processes were quite painful. Those were the mentality of “completing a task” rather than creating. That I couldn’t create brought me even more anxiety and despair, and it aroused my existential crisis: **If I can’t create, what’s the meaning of my life? **
The beginning of self-inquiry | 自我探寻的开端
I forgot the obvious turning point of my life. The biggest fact must be the diagnosis of my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); however, there is also a strong connection with the exponential development of AI drawing in 2022.
Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Novel ai ....... It is surprising that these applications, which are familiar to everyone now, were little known six months ago. Even though I am not a professional artist and have no particular obsession with drawing, that “everyone can create without picking up a paintbrush” still stirred up waves of doubt and confusion in my mind.
Midjourney，Stable Diffusion，novel ai…….这些大家现在已经耳熟能详的应用，居然在半年前还鲜为人知。哪怕我并不是一位职业画师，也对绘画没有特别大的执着，“所有人都可以不必拿起画笔就能创作”这件事情还是在我心中激起了疑惑和不解的波澜。
With few professional knowledge, I do not want to discuss issues of copyright or whether we can categorize the use of prompts as drawing, etc. I just keep asking myself, how to get back to my canvas; how to protect myself from all the eternal distractions; how to feel the enthusiasm of creating again?
Re-emphasize the current intuition | 此刻，回归直觉
During the boom of AI drawing, the episode Byzaichang - S2E6 Trash by Zhongqing made me think about what creation means. In the history of TV commercials over the past 50 years, behind those commercial musics, which were called as “trash”, people were shining with identical souls. I began to trust the possibility of human beings, as well as our creativity, which will glow regardless how technology and tools develop.
In August 2022, I faced the canvas and tried to create something, again. During the process, I attempted to get rid of the analysis and irrelevant thoughts, focused on capturing sensory experience and the flow of consciousness. I even closed my eyes and asked my right hand where to go next? What kind of line do you want to draw? Here and now, completely surrendering to my intuition. The picture below is what came from this attempt.
Connecting with others | 与相似灵魂的连接
During the stay in Morocco, I met Laura, a girl from Germany. We have almost opposite personalities (I’s extrovert, she’s introvert), different cultural backgrounds, family environments and life experiences. However, during our in-depth conversation, we discovered we have similar anxiety disorder and “creative bottlenecks”. I couldn’t paint for years, and she could not write since young; our brains were out of control, filled with endless thinking and mind; we both felt an existential crisis over our inability to create.
In the midday backyard, under the grape trellis, bits of sunlight streamed in and rippled across the table. We held each other’s hands and expressed our gratitude: for silent listening, for speaking our truths, for meeting each other in the wide world.
Although I still can’t face the canvas with a peaceful mind, I no longer feel lonely and helpless.
Deeper self-awareness | 深层次的自我觉知
After being introduced to yoga, my experience and feelings towards creation have now changed a lot since six months ago.
I learnt a lot from Aparigraha, one of the five yama (virtues) of yoga philosophy; it’s not only advising us to detach from material but also all things other than the true beings.
Creating without the expectation of fruits | 不期望结果地创造
The first insight that Aparigraha gave me was that instead of thinking about how to regain my passion, almost forcing myself to paint again, I should detach from expectation of results and the past, then surrender to my purest thoughts and feelings in the present moment.
Specifically, I deeply realized that emphasizing the experience of “being able to create” constrains and keeps putting pressure on myself.
In the film “Soul”, Joe Gardner, after chasing and pursuing his dream of artistic achievement, found that the experience after achieving his goal wasn’t better than his daily dedication to piano. The most precious moments were the day-to-day performance that people neglected, like the sunlight falling through the leaves on the boughs of a tree and catching the eye and sparking life. The noblest of artistic creations are free from expectations.
During the practice of meditation, I also realized that the brain brings the same obstacles to creativity and focusing. When facing with internal agitation and doubts, the brain chooses to either fight - forcing the behavior with willpower, which is effective but energy consuming - or avoid - directing the body to do something unrelated to avoid the problem itself.
I realized that my overwhelming willpower was consuming energy that could have provided great inspiration for creativity. When the heaviness of anxiety itself and creativity means outweighed the creative process itself, obstacles revealed with the form of “creative bottleneck”. Meditation with non-judgmental observation of my mind movement informed me.
Letting go of the past, creating for current being | 放手过去，为当下创造
Aparigraha also means letting go of the things that have passed, such as wonderful memories and times of devotion.
However, accepting this is painful.
Since I was a child, artistic expression was all of my life: from acrylic painting and craftwork in elementary school, to graphic design and animation in high school, and my major choice in architecture in college. However, in recent years, the creative bottleneck has not only aroused the existential crisis but also made me indulge in and regret the good old days-how can I recreate the scenes at my young age? How can I reattain the enthusiasm?
The regret of sunk costs is also the source of pain. If I quit creating now, then many years of dedicated practice, all the affection, energy and time I spent in architecture will go down the drain. These tremendous investments became a heavy burden, pushing me moving forward.
But what do I want to do now?
After listening to the Personality test and career choice: what do you mean by “more suitable” for me?, I realized that what we think of specialization depended on experiences, family and social environment that lead us to make different choices at life turning points. We ourselves have infinite possibilities. Instead of looking for something I am skillful at, it is more meaningful to invest myself into feeling specific events: What is the most important thing for me?
This inquiry awakened and connected me to my deeper memory. From elementary school to high school, I never had felt that desire to create just because I am skillful at artistic expression”. I even suffered from overdose self-judgement, and at one point I hated my work. But what kept me practicing was the love and passion for the most important thing at the moment, encouraging me to finish my work.
But what about me now? Rather than indulging in beautiful memories of the past but not focusing on the experience of the present, I won’t neglect my desire to cook, write, and photograph anymore. Letting go of judgmenting my behavior and tear down the labels putted on myself (This is also the answer towards my perplexity in Vol 1. About identity problems I am going through | 有关我正在经历的身份危机 listen to my inner guidance, and create what you want in the current moment.
而现在的我呢？紧紧捧着过去的幸福回忆却不注重当下的体验于感觉。我现在渴望料理，渴望写作，渴望摄影，是跟当年一样，被我在接触到当下的资源和社会环境不可避免的影响；但是这又如何呢？放下对自身行为的评判，撕下对自己贴上的标签（这也是对我在 Vol 1. About identity problems I am going through | 有关我正在经历的身份危机 中感受到的迷茫的解答），听从自己内心的指引，去创造自己认为最重要的事情吧。
- Author:Sunshine Yang
- Copyright:All articles in this blog, except for special statements, adopt BY-NC-SA agreement. Please indicate the source!
Vol 6. A Confession of my Poor Mindset | 有关我的穷人思维的自白
Vol 5. The start of my journey and resettlement | 旅程的开始与重置
Vol 4. Non-Dualism as Prescription for Self-Exploitation | 非二元论作为自我剥削的处方
Vol 2. Exploring Yoga on the Other Side of the World | 在地球的另一端与瑜伽相遇
Vol 1. About identity problems I am going through | 有关我正在经历的身份危机