December 26, 2016

Painting With The Girls 361

December 26, 2016

Day 361 (5 days to go)

Manipulated photo, 5X7, matted.

All Humans are Creative

I was taken aback, studying art history, when I came across a National Geographic article about ancient art from approximately 39,000 years ago.  A long time ago, humans were not just hunting and gathering. They were already expressing themselves, their love, their fears and their spirituality, as they painted in caves.  In his book, La Prehistoire du Cinema, filmmaker and archeologist Marc Azéma argues that these ancient artists were interposing images in cave walls, so that with the flickering of the fire, images would look as if they were animated.

For all documented history of civilization, art has played its part as being merely decoration, then information and later just joy and entertainment. Our civilization is now based on a culture that consumes and obsesses over what is new and entertaining. We are curious about things that make our lives better, and we also seek the adventure of finding what makes our hearts lighter and keep our minds in a permanent state of wonder.

Today we see so many people searching for that creative outlet. At any given age, you might find people attempting to paint, quilt, dance or sculpt, even when time is limited. Creativity comes in endless forms and can become life’s calling or an activity for coping with life’s challenges.

Grandma Moses took up painting because her eyes gave out, and she could no longer sew and embroider.  She decided that she was either going to start raising chickens or she was going to start painting.  Grandma Moses is just a great example that so-called genius is not necessarily of the utmost importance when someone just wants to be creative.

Today, we are surrounded by art from the past, images of every single creative possibility and the sense that there is no more room for anything else to be created. We all feel numbed by the constant bombardment of images in social media and the media in general. But we continue to create and enjoy creating.

The pure act of creation is really something worth discussing, and many books do.

Most recently, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, covers the act of finding your ideas and how as humans we are vessels for this divine sacred privilege of being creative.

Creativity is what separates us from just being survivors on Earth. It lets us enjoy walking through this life, solving problems and making this planet better for others and us.

Being at my own studio made me realize my own limitations and expectations about creativity. In my research about famous female painters I was not surprised to find they all had similar obstacles like we do today. Although art historians do not focus on domestic affairs and raising children or building gardens, most of these artists faced challenges they wrote or shared with family and friends through letters or journals.

Artemisia Gentileschi was a painter in the early 17th century, when women did not participate in men’s society. She managed to make a living and raise three children. Berthe Morisot lived at a time when women could never go anywhere without an escort or even enter a café without having their reputation endangered. Nonetheless, she succeeded at being the only women in the founders, group of The Impressionistic movement.

Mary Cassat is another example of overcoming the great influence and pressure of family. She continued to find ways to work after her wealthy father discontinued providing financial support, because he did not want his daughter to be a painter.

Just like today, all of them were confronted with practical problems such as time, family, money and sanity. These are all obstacles, which unless solved, can hurt or divert us away from our creative path.  

I experienced all of these obstacles in just nine months.