Sunday, November 1, 2009

Limits On Creativity

Do you ever get the feeling someone's watching you?

I don't mean in the scary sense, like you've got a stalker. I mean it in the sense that certain phrases or words keep making themselves known to you. And they're just the phrases or words that you need to hear.

Lately the term 'focus' has been leaping out at me from blogs and books and newsletters. So much so that I wonder if there's something I need to pay attention to (oh, sorry 'bout that).

It happened again today, just a few moments ago. I received a newsletter from Barbara Martin, author of Reptitude, a cool blog about creative endeavors. Her inaugural missive deals with setting deadlines and other limits for creative effort. And if I may toot my own horn, Barbara mentions Mavis Penney's and my Off The Highway blog which chronicles our 100 days of painting experience as a way to describe different ways of setting intentions - cool!

Ahem, back to focus...

I have noticed that since finishing our Off the Highway project, I've been a bit adrift. No flaming deadlines looming, no one checking to see what I'm up to. I can do anything I want now that I'm all caught up. Interestingly, I' haven't been all that certain what I wanted to do with all that newfound freedom.

@ 2009 Square One P Scarborough 12 x 12 oil

I took my cue from the universe, or whoever it is that's nagging me, and I'm starting a new project. It's all about focus and limits. I'm committed to painting at least 30 one-square-foot paintings of one-square-mile I've picked out north of town. Just like the Off The Highway project, in which we allowed ourselves the leeway of painting anything that could be seen from a highway, I can paint anything within that square mile. To enforce the goal, I announced the project as an exhibit to be shown at The Burkholder Project in March, 2010.

Why a limit on what I can use for inspiration? I became aware that when I was immersed in the Off The Highway experience, I felt a certain freedom to experience more fully what I was seeing when I was limited to the highway. It's called "inspired monotony". If you do the same thing, or a small set of things, over and over, innovation is almost a necessity. It's, well, un-limiting.

Off The Highway Series @2009 Day 57 - First Light Heifer P Scarborough 5 x 7 oil

Marla Baggetta painted 100 paintings using the same simple landscape as inspiration. To relieve the monotony (her selected landcape doesn't include too many cathedrals or fruit markets) she conceived her landscape in startling and beautiful ways. My square mile may not be the most interesting piece of real estate in the world, but I'm fairly certain that by the time March rolls around, I'll have learned a fair amount about what goes on there, and I'll have learned a bit more about painting.

@2009 Square 2 P Scarborough 12 x 12 oil

I'm excited about being limited. It's kind of freeing, in an odd way.

How do you set limits to inspire your new projects?

1 comment:

Nancy Medina said...

Pat, your ambition is inspiring, but your talent is always up to any goal you set. I can't wait to see what you produce next lady!
hugs from Texas....