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Thread: Zen of Creativity Chapter 7

  1. #1

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 7

    Chapter 7

    "Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.'
    Konstantin Stanislavsky

    Barriers

    John Daido Loori lays out in detail the problems many artists have with creative blocks. And he defines some possible blocks that the artist might encounter:

    -Originality: So often we want to make a statement with our work that is so unique that we trip ourselves up just with this unreachable goal. This is certainly a problem Iíve experienced in my career. And its always resolved by just doing what my heart wants to do, not my mind.

    -Repetitive practice: in order to become an artist, we need to practice our craft. Over and over. Whether its in the visual arts, music or writing. As JDL says Ď Originality is born of craftsmanship, skill and diligent practiceÖí

    -We might study with or be so influenced by an artist whose work we love and respect that we, sometime unconsciously copy their art. This happens over and over in school situations. You see the artwork from a popular instructorís class, and it all looks like amateur copies of their teacherís work. I happen to think this is not a bad place to begin and assume that the truly creative students will eventually find their own voice, but in the meantime learn techniques and skills necessary to free them to do so.

    -Attachments to our work. We have discussed this before. It can be crippling to hang onto the product. Once a work of art is complete it should be released out into the world so we can be free to continue our creative path.

    Now Iím going to add 2 more barriers that JDL doesnít mention.
    -A huge barrier is our own mind. How we can sabotage our creativity, how we can convince ourselves that our work is worthless. This is a barrier that has been mentioned over and over in this forum. Iím guilty of this, although Iíve been an artist for many decades there are times still that I think of myself as a fraud.

    -There is some research that suggests we donít have free will as Jundo discusses in his most recent podcast https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...cast-Episode-6 (at 12:20). If we are botanical robots what would that imply as far as barriers go? What does that mean for our creativity, our choices in making art? are there choices?

    ĎSit with the barrier. Be it. Sit with the question, not its solution.
    Back to JDL. He speaks of making our barriers into koans. This is something I do often with problems in my studio. I reach a point where I donít know how to proceed. I find its best to just name the issue in words and drop it into my mind and then forget about it. .. as you would a koan. eventually a solution will pop into my mind. It has never worked to try to resolve the problem head on.

    He mentions our emotions as barriers. JDL uses the example of seeing the skinny dippers before photographing, what turn out to be sensuous photos of rocks. I personally donít see the problem with that, but he wanted his mind perfectly clear before shooting the images. Is that ever possible? I cannot nor do I want to deny my emotions and life experiences. I love the idea that his images reflected the sensuousness of the afternoon. And to see and capture the sensuality in rocks is a win as far as Iím concerned. What do you think?

    Any thoughts on barriers, what blocks you and how do you deal with these bumps in the road?

    AND NOW HERE'S MEITOU

    Hello everyone and welcome to the prompt for Chapter 7.

    This week's prompt : The only way through the barrier is to be the barrier.

    JDL talks about getting through creative blocks by working with art koans. But what is an art koan?
    As koans are so subjective, can you formulate a particular art koan that would help you?

    What is the strongest feeling that you experience when you are unable to move forward creatively- it may well be the frustration caused by your inability to make progress. But what causes that paralysis in the first place? Is it fear of failing? Lack of confidence in your ability? Fear of judgement? Procrastination? All of these concepts can come into play during the creative process Ė they pull at us, hinder us. How can we work with them and convert that energy into something positive?

    One of the things that often stops me from expressing myself through painting or drawing is being confronted with that naked expanse of white paper or canvas. I ask myself why this is and find that it's wrapped up in a fear of making mistakes, of wasting resources Ė it always comes back to harsh expectations and judgement of myself.

    How can I become that barrier in this exercise? Where can I find the courage to make a leap of faith and make marks on my paper with confidence, before thinking sets in. If I pass through the barrier this time, will I need to do this work again, every time I'm confronted with that emptiness? What if I just jump in and make all the marks even though I'm feeling that I can't? Even writing this down has been cathartic - I already have a sense of what I might do.

    Can you make/write/photograph something which expresses your barriers? If you've identified what blocks you, what hinders you, what clouds your clarity, can you take your pen or camera and lean right into it, work with it and bring something positive out of it?


    This might be our hardest challenge yet. Have fun with it!

    Gassho

    Anne and Meitou

    we both sat today

  2. #2
    Hi,

    Here are 3 photos that I messed with for a while:


  3. #3

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 7

    And this is what they looked like before the edits:
    Last edited by Jishin; 08-25-2019 at 11:49 PM.

  4. #4

  5. #5

  6. #6

    Zen of Creativity Chapter 7

    The process involved taking lots and lots of pictures in multiple Zoos. I had to throw away lots unsuitable photos (to me) and settled on these because I donít live in Africa or near a zoo (where I can wait for the perfect shot) and have to make do with what I got. I just do it until its time and then let go. Quitting time is when I get tired and have something else to do like going to work, sleep or some other chore. I get bored of projects and want to move to the next. New projects are exciting. I guess quitting time is quitting time. Thatís all.

    Gasho, Jishin, ST
    Last edited by Jishin; 08-25-2019 at 11:56 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    The process involved taking lots and lots of pictures in multiple Zoos. I had to throw away lots unsuitable photos (to me) and settled on these because I don’t live in Africa or near a zoo (where I can wait for the perfect shot) and have to make do with what I got. I just do it until its time and then let go. Quitting time is when I get tired and have something else to do like going to work, sleep or some other chore. I get bored of projects and want to move to the next. New projects are exciting. I guess quitting time is quitting time. That’s all.

    Gasho, Jishin, ST
    Love the Before and After Jishin,

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST LaH
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  8. #8
    I really enjoy taking my camera into the woods, by myself. In the old days, I would walk into the woods, and two hours later walk out with 75 photos.. 3 of which I actually liked. Since taking courses and learning from great photographers (our very own Shingen).. I now spend that whole two hours using my mind.. not the camera to set up the shot. I may take 15-20 minutes just finding that perfect angle that I really like.. I still walk out with 3 photos, but I like them even more.

    The barrier to my photography, is when I take photos with the intention of sharing them.. "Should I post this to Instagram..facebook..how many likes, how many comments... how would it look on the wall..could I make money from this shot or that..and on and on.." That takes me out of the moment and something is lost when I have an intention with my work.

    My way through creative blocks. I do outdoor family portraits "Portraits in the Park." Sometimes I get stumped on how to pose a particular family, where to seat grandma and how to make sure everyone is smiling...will they like the photo.. Following the formal pictures, I always invite my family to go for a nature walk. I walk a little ahead, encourage the kids to be silly, which gets the adults laughing and smiling. Those are the shots I am after, in the moment, life happening. Our little walks always make me feel good about my hour with any given family, because I know if I didn't get the best shots in the formal ones, I most certainly got the candid ones on our walk.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST LaH
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyotai View Post
    Love the Before and After Jishin,

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST LaH
    Thank you!

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyotai View Post

    The barrier to my photography, is when I take photos with the intention of sharing them.. "Should I post this to Instagram..facebook..how many likes, how many comments... how would it look on the wall..could I make money from this shot or that..and on and on.." That takes me out of the moment and something is lost when I have an intention with my work.
    I think we all have the need to be liked and loved and this influences what art is produced. I enjoy feedback or lack thereof from pictures I post. It guides me towards what is pleasing to the eye of others and this fulfills my human need to be liked and loved.

    I take the photo with the intent of sharing.

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I think we all have the need to be liked and loved and this influences what art is produced. I enjoy feedback or lack thereof from pictures I post. It guides me towards what is pleasing to the eye of others and this fulfills my human need to be liked and loved.

    I take the photo with the intent of sharing.

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__


    Kyotai
    ST LAH
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  12. #12
    Meitou,

    For me the blocks do not seem tied to my creativity being blocked by fear of failure or anything in that order. I just feel flat, empty of creative juice. My ideas have all dried up. My blocks were so legendary that once someone (I really didn't even know) interviewed me for a article that they were writing about artist blocks. A block, for me, can last as long as a year. It is no fun. I've not been in one of those for a good while, thankfully. But I think creativity (and I've said this before) is such a fragile thing that it gets easily knocked off course by emotional turmoil, health issues, family issues, financial woes etc. My creative drive seems the first to go.

    Finally, I get back on track but even then it takes time. The first series I produce are almost always throw away objects. It's like I have to warm up, get the juices flowing.
    Usually to get back working in my studio I just sit down and do something, really anything. Just to get me settled and focused. I have artist friends who have NEVER experienced this. They wake each morning with the creativity spinning them out of bed into their life.
    lucky them.
    Gassho

    Anne
    ~lahst~

  13. #13
    What has come through this discussion for me is that all of you, in one form or another, just keep pushing through regardless. Even you Anne, after a long barren period, start to produce something, anything, to get your mojo back again. I'm a terrible procrastinator, it's a condition that really puzzles me because not only do I put off things I don't want to do, which I can understand, but I also put off things I really want to do too, it's so strange. I was talking in an informal way to a therapist friend and she suggested that when I feel a bit procrastinating mood coming on, I should just stand up. In other words, get up and do something, anything, to get moving, mentally and physically occupied. Another friend told me how he makes a list of what he's avoiding in order of importance or urgency, then just takes the top item from the list and occupies himself fully with that. Also good.

    On the basis of standing up and getting on with it, I've approached this prompt by becoming, in a sense, the blank page. I've gone through my art supplies and gathered all my blank pages together. I was quite shocked about how many sketch books I have that have only one or two tentative project beginnings in them, I think there are four A5 books, two A4, two A3 and one I've made myself. I also noted that I mentally slap an 'art' label on these. On the other hand, I found 4 or 5 ring bound A5 plain paged books that are full of sketches, bits of collage, ink drawings and writings. And I realised that they are full because I mentally label them 'notebooks'. So. This week, I'm taking each one of my A5 'art' books, dropping the art bit and I'm going to sit and fill them. I may write, or make collage, or pick up a brush and ink and fill in every page with a simple mark. I won't set boundaries like 'one page a day', or book A for drawing, book B for collage etc, because I find that challenges me immediately. My only requirement of myself is that I stand up, as it were, and just do it. As it comes.

    I realise that this week's prompt is ambiguous and not easily translated into something that can be shown here - I think that's ok too, because sometimes discussion can also get the creative juices flowing - reflecting on creative blocks and what triggers them will hopefully shed some light on how to work with them rather than let them govern us.
    Here's a before photo, emptiness - hopefully by the end of the week I'll be able to post an after photo, lots of used pages.

    sketchbooks.jpg

    Gasso
    Meitou
    sattodaylah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  14. #14
    Meitou,
    I look forward to seeing the pages fill.

    I'm currently not blocked, although I am not satisfied with what I'm working on. I started my art career as a ceramist 50 years ago, moved on leaving clay behind. I've revisited it recently and so much has changed in that world (material wise) that I'm at a loss. But a close friend of mine, who also left clay behind, but not for as long picked it up about the same time. So we commiserate when things go south, which they can do very quickly with clay. Anyway Bev is an inspiration. Her creative energy is boundless. She's a bit older than I am. She worked as an artist for many years, gave that up and wrote 4 novels before returning to clay! She is an inspiration. Here's an image of her most public art project that she completed long ago...https://www.flickr.com/photos/detourart/2443701527
    The inside of that house is as unbelievable as the outside. Her daughter and son in law, also tile artists live in the house and keep it in topnotch shape.

    She tells me she's never experienced blocks. She wakes every morning excited to be in her life. You can see that exuberance in her 'tile house'.
    Ah.

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  15. #15
    Hello,

    I am not a (professional) artist and with that, a period that might be experienced as a block by such, might just be a period of not creating/expressing something to me.
    Not a big thing. Just doing something else.
    When the urge to expressing something arises, there is usually that something, the idea, present and already strong enough to drive the motor.
    But yes, I also know a kind of pressure that blocks in a way.
    When leaving that intimate process of actually working. When stepping out of myself and entering a somehow external view on the matter. Thinking too much about concepts and 'meaning' while working... or putting myself into the position of an observer or critic.
    Developing a fear of not being good enough or not clear enough for making myself understood.
    My way out of this is also a kind of pushing through.
    It's about finding something for a samu kind of work. Just keeping myself busy, dropping the thoughts that separate myself from what I am doing.
    While working with garden projects, that's often walking through nurseries, selecting plants or taking a shovel and moving soil, gravel or stones for some hours or even days.

    Anne, you wrote in the initial post about not having problems with skinny dippers, that interfere with the rock photos.
    I am feeling like that, too.
    I think I understand, why JDL separates everything from the rocks to maybe express the 'essence' of that rock itself.
    To me, there is not only the koan of our barriers and merging them with the artwork.
    I personally enjoy art, that is kind of a koan itself, not so much separated from its surroundings.
    Not clean and linear to understand... Containing an unsolvable, complex dimension.
    The condition of the artist, the environment of the original object, the context of the exhibition, what the observer had for breakfast.

    Need to ponder some more about the prompt ;-).

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  16. #16
    Kotei,

    I think you are right, JDL wanted to capture the essence of ROCK. But I ask, is that possible? Can we really ever be totally objective in our creative moments. We bring so much of ourselves into each moment. I wonder?
    I personally enjoy art, that is kind of a koan itself, not so much separated from its surroundings.
    This quote got me thinking. Viewing art is very much like receiving a koan. Art should be examined without intellect, thought or expectation to be really seen. ('Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees'). Just viewed with fresh, beginners eyes... Ah. Not so easy to achieve but so revealing. Any thoughts on how best to look at art?

    Gassho

    Anne

    ~lahst~

  17. #17
    Hello,
    here is my take on the prompt for Chapter #7



    It is about the idea, the spark, that lights a small flame.
    The unnatural 'in vitro' situation of thinking about the critique and viewers while still creating.
    And what happens to the flame in the end, when implementing with such a closed mindset.
    BREATHE!

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Hello,
    here is my take on the prompt for Chapter #7



    It is about the idea, the spark, that lights a small flame.
    The unnatural 'in vitro' situation of thinking about the critique and viewers while still creating.
    And what happens to the flame in the end, when implementing with such a closed mindset.
    BREATHE!

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Wow Kotei, that felt very surreal, like watching a Luis Býnuel film, I loved it.
    I think we agree, thoughts of the critique and the audience have to be dropped during the creative process - I think we need to be true to ourselves first and foremost.
    Thanks for this perspective.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattoday
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post

    Any thoughts on how best to look at art?

    Gassho

    Anne

    ~lahst~
    Anne - million dollar question and a can of worms to be opened. This merits an entire thread of its own.

    I'm fine looking at non-abstract art and sculpture because I recognise what I'm looking at and my way of looking at it is trying to find something in the artists interpretation that isn't just a perfect life-like rendering of, for example, an apple; or something that looks exactly like a photograph, which we see so much of now. I'm convinced that in many cases I've seen online, that the 'drawings' are in fact drawn over photographs but that constitutes another huge question - what is art? And when is something 'copying', another big one for me, because I was taught at art school never to copy from photographs and although I may be a Luddite, this still is a valid argument for me. So I feel I'm on safe ground with figurative representation.
    It's when I get to abstract representation that this old argument presents itself - should my understanding of how I look at a piece be complimented by an artists explanation , or should I look at a piece as it is, without any explanation or knowledge of what the artist's intent is? Is there a right or wrong here? If an intellectual leap can only be made with an explanation does this mean that art is inclusive of everyone - because anyone should be able to understand it, or does it mean the opposite?
    More questions than answers I'm afraid, but I'd love to hear what the rest of you think as this has been ( without me realising it) a koan that has accompanied me throughout life.
    Bows,
    Meitou
    sattoday
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  20. #20
    Boy Kotei, that about sums it up! If we let the viewing, judging masses become our masters the air is all sucked out of the room!
    Thanks for that splendid piece.

    And Meitou, yes lots to think about and maybe we should make it a topic of its own. I'll be thinking about how I look at artwork.

    Bows
    Anne

    ~st~

  21. #21
    Thank you both.

    Meitou, Býnuel and I together in one sentence is a bit too much of honour, but thank you anyway.
    Mentioning him brought back the eye and razor scene from "Un Chien Andalou".
    The eye prosthetics, I used are from around 1945 and originally made for returning WWII soldiers.
    I collected around 100 of them for a possible Avalokiteshvara project... We'll see...

    I don't think, that there is the one method, how I am looking at art.

    Sometimes, experiencing the piece is enough.
    Often, I welcome additional information after having my time with the koan.
    Especially with contemporary/modern art, I like having a guided tour on a second visit.

    Sometimes, an explanation, the life and work of the artist or the environment is essential part of the work.

    Like Beuys, pumping honey and moving fat installation, that can't easily be understood without knowing his concept of social sculptures and the reference to the working, creating people on the other side of the wall.

    Room filling waves of lead, that had been melted and formed inside the room they were displayed in.
    I needed to be told, that it's about the relation of the artwork and the environment, it is displayed in.
    Moving the artwork to a different environment means altering/destroying it.

    Pictures, that are part of a dialogue between different works and artists in different locations are without much of a meaning when viewed alone.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Thank you both.

    Meitou, Býnuel and I together in one sentence is a bit too much of honour, but thank you anyway.
    Mentioning him brought back the eye and razor scene from "Un Chien Andalou".
    The eye prosthetics, I used are from around 1945 and originally made for returning WWII soldiers.
    I collected around 100 of them for a possible Avalokiteshvara project... We'll see...

    I don't think, that there is the one method, how I am looking at art.

    Sometimes, experiencing the piece is enough.
    Often, I welcome additional information after having my time with the koan.
    Especially with contemporary/modern art, I like having a guided tour on a second visit.

    Sometimes, an explanation, the life and work of the artist or the environment is essential part of the work.

    Like Beuys, pumping honey and moving fat installation, that can't easily be understood without knowing his concept of social sculptures and the reference to the working, creating people on the other side of the wall.

    Room filling waves of lead, that had been melted and formed inside the room they were displayed in.
    I needed to be told, that it's about the relation of the artwork and the environment, it is displayed in.
    Moving the artwork to a different environment means altering/destroying it.

    Pictures, that are part of a dialogue between different works and artists in different locations are without much of a meaning when viewed alone.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Yes Kotei, this is exactly what I'm talking about - knowing the artists intention can only enhance our experience of the work, this has been true in my experience too. I just wonder though what I might make of something if I have no explanation - I can certainly still enjoy it, or dislike it come to that. I might even think I understand it, or at least understand what it means to me. But if my understanding is totally different to the artists intention - is that still ok? I worry about being 'wrong', I suppose I feel a little intimidated and frightened of making a fool of myself.

    I realised too that I hadn't followed up this prompt. I did sit down with the empty pages and I filled them - in fact in two days I filled an entire sketchbook. I poured some ink, took up my brush and made simple marks, working quickly. I stayed present with what I was doing but didn't overthink it, stopping as soon as I sensed the marks were complete. I attempted to approach all that space with a different mindset and as I moved through the book, it really did work. It was interesting to note that as soon as I started to attach ideas or aims to what I was doing, the tension between brush and page returned, so I deliberately kept moving, telling myself that I had plenty more sketchbooks, paper, and ink, so I could be as free as I wanted. I was really pleased with the outcome. I wasn't sure how to present it here, I wanted to make a slide show but it always takes so long to do and upload, so I photographed some of the pages and present them here in small collages.

    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattodaylah

    New Phototastic Collage.jpg

    second collage .jpg

    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattodaylah
    Last edited by Meitou; 09-23-2019 at 10:35 PM. Reason: forgot signature
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

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