I’ve been thinking a lot about my ‘muse’ this month, especially as I find myself struggling to get through the new series of works. A question I keep asking myself is ‘how do I maintain my creative flow?’
Creative flow and inspiration is often linked to the two great waves of the ” Feast” and “Famine” cycle of the art world. Maintaining energy levels in the feast cycle is one challenge, yet maintaining the flow during the famine cycle can be a majorly overwhelming experience.
In the feast cycle, which for me was last year with one project or launch or exhibition happening literally every month until I crossed the finish line into 2017. Inspiration seemed to flow seamlessly. It was almost like the less time I had the more productive I became. There was no time to procrastinate, no time for anything other than churning out new work in the studio. I was completely focused, completely driven. Is that kind of work sustainable? Well the short answer is no! Burnout is a well documented topic for creatives- even more so for creatives with little humans to look after!
For me, I can’t say that I’m burnt out but I have certainly switched gears. Whilst I wouldn’t call this a famine cycle as there is still plenty of work to do and I have set myself up with two major projects that book mark the first and second half of this year: the IWVAC-Australia Group Exhibition “Turquoise Paradox” in April and a residency at Peacock Gallery from June – September followed by an exhibition in October ” Mythologies of the Discarded”, I do feel a bit flat…a bit out of flow…now that I have consciously slowed down it’s hard to get motivated!
I had the privilege of meeting and working with one of my artistic heroes last year, Hossein Valamanesh at the Iranica Conference at the Art Gallery of NSW. After his presentation of his oeuvre I asked him “what’s next?”. He told me that he was out of ideas at that moment in time, and didn’t really know what’s next. He was in a famine cycle creatively speaking. He mentioned that he found a huge branch on the road in front of his house and dragged it into the studio to look at it and that was ” the next thing”.
Being out of flow was not a scary place to be for Valamanesh. He described it as his “resting time” where he collects things and is present in the flow of not being in flow…until inspiration strikes and then all that time spent resting would sustain him, as he may not surface from the studio for months riding the wave of his muse.
That was such a beautiful way of looking at it. Often artist freak-out when inspiration runs dry. I certainly do. So instead of a huge branch in my studio I will spend time drawing in my art journal and watching inspirational films, being in nature or just letting go of having to have an ‘idea’. I must say, accepting that this is my all important ‘resting time’ feels less scary as I take on board the wisdom of just trusting in the process and riding out the famine cycle.