I think about a project I would need to finish for an employer or client, and realize the quickness with which I must think about and finish an idea. Over time I’ve learned tricks and ways of speeding up the process, and I have learned a plethora of ways to strategize and develop a concept at the start of a project. I’ve researched and practiced skills I didn’t have. I’ve played with and explored new artistic methods, essentially building a repertoire of skills to pull from. And, over the years the initial anxiety of each new project has become less. Moreover, confidence about my abilities has risen. I remember one project had me painting over a hundred little concept paintings, and my confidence in my ability to complete them every day became greater. As an added result, I’m now very comfortable with the particular tools I was using to complete the task.
The overwhelming star of my artistic career however, is the consistency and practice of working every day. The anxiety and uncertainty that inevitably comes with each new project constantly exists, but because I practiced the process every day, I knew what I needed to do if I felt stuck. The same is true of my work during this study. The value constantly playing with and exploring a personal idea, utilizing skills I consider strengths, practicing skills I consider weaknesses, as well as pulling from a slew of tools to move past any uncertainty has proven to me the worth of this daily habit for creativity.
The tools I used to get through anxiety or uncertainty are personal to me, just as they are to most artists. Some artists blast their favorite music, take a subway ride, or do yoga. Some play games of chance, like the Surrealists. Most of the time we will never see or know that process. I often take a short drive in my car, taking in the interesting Los Angeles culture as it passes by my window. I also take field trips, getting me out of my everyday comfort zone. Or I might take walk around the block looking for those little sparks of inspiration. Sometimes I play with non-committal patterns, essentially doodling just to get my pen or pencil moving for the day. I considered a lot of this research as well, filling my virtual box with ideas related to my topic or idea or maybe the next.
Suggesting various tools to students to move past uncertainty is a key component for teaching creativity in the classroom. It’s not as simple as having them get in the car to take a drive or even leave the classroom, but letting them experience the unexpected chance a tool might elicit is possible. I find myself saying, I don’t know, try it and see what happens, often, to students who ask me what is going to happen when I do x, y, and z, or what if I make a mistake. To get through uncertainty during my project I could have easily let ink drip and splatter in big black blobs on my grid paper. I could have smudged it, or cut or carved into it. I could have cut it up and taped a portion that I liked into my sketchbook. I could have looked for images in the blob. The point is playing with the unexpected is a great tool to move past the anxiety of I don’t know. To see what happens and see what ideas bubble up. The final result doesn’t matter, and that’s key.