A Creativity Framework

Have you found that one of the challenges in being a creative artist of any kind is how to improve your creativity? How to move beyond your creative blocks, limitations, and skill levels towards greater ideas, inspiration, and more meaningful, finished results?

If you are like me, you love to create and are dedicated to creating and see it is necessary to your life (and who you are). I too have had successes, and “failures” (though there is no such thing) and I have encountered all the pitfalls: burnout, lack of inspiration, long dry spells, self doubt, confusion, despair, giving up etc. I have also done a lot of research and reading into creativity. I have looked at stages of creativity, motivation, methods, practices, biographies, you name it, all in search of that creative spark that can ignite my own creativity.

And you know what I found over the last few years? Some of it is helpful, a lot of it is not and a lot of it is just bits and pieces. There is not much out there that is b…

Cutting Through

So how do I cut though in the medium of photography? How do great photographs cut through? One way is examine it a little further. If a photograph is closest to memory, with memory comes the past, and time, away from and out of the present moment. A photograph is a reminder of the passing of time. To me there is some inherent sadness in this, as it means, in time, the passing of ‘me’. It is a loss. I will be someone else’s memory one day, someone else’s photograph looked at 100 years from now. Yet this sadness is the sadness of ego, of the personality, that thing is us that wants to be eternal, but is a complex fiction. (Remember, the ego loves the security of the known, and creativity is facing the unknown. Funny how the two are intimately linked).

Looked at it another way, memory can also be traced from the past, to the present. Memory recedes into mist and myth, back before ‘history’, back to what we call ancient times.  This looking back mirrors traces of vanished civilisations o…

Ways Of Seeing

Your way of seeing comes from within you, not from your subject matter. Unless you want to use the camera (or your chosen medium) to merely record what is in front of you. Nothing is objective, as the choice of where to stand, placement of the frame, the exposure settings, post processing, and the preference of one photograph over another are all subjective decisions. Subjectivity can be reduced to a minimum but objectivity is a myth.

I have a set of criteria that is integral to who I am. These are the backbone of my ways of seeing.
They are criteria that form from an inner affinity, a spontaneous intuition of what I am drawn to and moved by. I can look at hundreds of photographs, including many that are considered great in the history of photography, but there are a limited number that resonate with my being. It is at this level that I seek to photograph, to create. The challenge here is to stay at this level of awareness when I photograph, and also when I edit and select photograph…

Learning From Another Medium

It can be very useful to apply insights from one creative medium to a different medium in order to deepen understanding in both mediums. Previously I wrote that music is a direct expression of emotions. Yet, to me, a photograph expresses a felt sense, rather than as-direct-a feeling as a piece of music can. I believe this comes about because music has a direct connection to the emotional brain due to the melody, rhythm or harmony evoking a feeling. Thought and the thinking mind are not required. Up until about the age of seven, children operate basically through the emotional brain. Around the age of seven, the thinking facilities start to develop, and this allows a layer of complexity to develop, from simple associations of thoughts all the way to abstract thinking. In my case, the thinking brain became my modus operandi. However, a downside was that I had to think about how I felt about something, rather than just feel directly. Direct feeling is still not second nature to me.  Thi…

At The Coalface of the Unknown

To me, creativity is sitting right at the coalface of the unknown. This takes courage because failure is imminent. Ego likes certainty and security, which is the known. So the basis of the view that I am creative person or that I produce wonderful work is always on the verge of collapse when facing the unknown. It is a turning towards and facing the existential angst. Pressures mount, anxiety intensifies, and other questions haunt below the surface and threaten to overwhelm the mind, such as 'who I am?' This is a natural process, although it feels very much the opposite. This needs to be breathed through, quietly, the aim being to let the noise settle, and at some stage, begin.  Where is the coalface of the unknown in your own creativity?  For me, in music, it is composing a piece that has feeling, is melodic, and forms the basic structure of a track or a larger piece of music. All other choices are pure distraction. What instrument should I use? What can I add to this? How c…

The 'Path' Of True Creativity

                                                         untitled (c)  D Harris  

"If there is a path before you, it is not your path" Joseph Campbell

I find it useful, for any creative endeavour, to have a look into the nature of creativity itself. My first caveat is that you must do this for yourself. Don't be lazy. Laziness is anathema to creativity in the long run. My second caveat is to choose your own metaphor for creativity. My third caveat is to define terms that get straight to the point. My last caveat is: you do not have to pursue a creative endeavour, it is your choice to make.

My metaphor:  digging deep, mining creativity, archaeological exploration, sitting at the coalface, in the solitary darkness, buried, excavating, exploration, discovery.

These are my terms:
     Path: There is no path.
     True Creativity:  sitting at the coal face of the unknown. Anything else is an illusion, a false                                             creativity, a distracti…

Art Comes From Life

Any type of art practice is the consistent, structured application of practices and methodologies to concepts that centre around meaning making and communication. The process is integral to the result. It is multi-disciplinary, experiential, and is self validating through the need to create and make sense of self and /or one's relation to one's experience of the world.

It is more than a hobby, it is primarily about meaning making and the joy of creating. It is not a substitute for a mediocre or safe or conventional life. It enriches life and in turn life enriches the practice. It is as much about exploration as it is about expression. An exploration of self, of who you are, a way of relating to and interpreting the self and the world around us. It is multifaceted, as it integrates life, philosophy, meaning, reflection/meditation, contribution, and a heart felt sense of joy from solely focussing on the love of the medium. Just as jazz lost its way from the separation of life i…