Creating Art: Appreciate the Process

A woman holds tubes of paint in her hand.

Art. It’s one of those subjects that people either love or scoff at. Even some serious appreciators of the field can’t imagine creating it, though.  The process of creating art can either make you feel like you’re on top of the world or like you’re the worst person to ever touch a pencil… 

I’d argue that the experience is what makes it art, though. The process is all about tuning into your own inner world and seeing how you can convey those thoughts and feelings on a medium of choice. 

Maybe that’s through mixed media, maybe you’re a modern day Van Gogh who oil paints, or maybe you’re a Julia Child who uses their creativity to turn food into art.

Anything can be art. Anything can be an artistic experience if you let it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hair stylist at a salon down the street or photographing wildlife for National Geographic, art can be found everywhere (even in some of the most mundane places).

The important thing is that you’re creating something in a way that conveys meaning. It doesn’t matter whether you’re famous for it or whether you’re making a single dime from your work. It doesn’t even matter whether everyone understands it or loves it. 

In America, especially, we have a hustle work culture that places overworking in the name of honor on a pedestal. As artists, we need to push back and learn to be content with where we are in the moment, meeting ourselves where we are, instead of simply striving for an end goal that may or may not gain us recognition or capital. 

I am not a fan of the toxic work, work, work outlook. (We have our entire lives to work!) 

I am all for motivation, staying dedicated to work that feels right, and honing professional and creative skills. I love setting goals for my creative work. (Spoiler alert: They are usually motivated by my own personal challenges rather than outward praise from others.) But I am not a fan of selling my soul to make a quick buck or for a minute of recognition. I would rather enjoy doing the work and making the art over any rewards I may receive from them. 

Quite frankly, that is the only way for an artist to sustain themselves. Extrinsic motivation is depleting, intrinsic motivation is uplifting. 

Expression, freedom, growth, purpose, and enjoyment are my main reasons for my artistic endeavors. I have often heard comments about how I’m so creative and how I naturally excel in so many different creative areas (that’s an entire topic for another day!). I write, bake, decorate, photograph, hand letter, draw, build, craft, and dabble in many other creative interests. The secret? Well, besides lots of consistent practice, it comes down to my nature of seeking out joyful things. I don’t want to waste my life doing things I don’t like. If I’m going to be challenging myself or working toward something, I figure I might as well enjoy it while I’m doing it. So I seek out things I love that I truly have a passion for. This just so happens to be lots of creative stuff.

It is in those moments of creating that we grow the most. It’s in these moments that we learn who we are, challenge our skill, and make great things. And enjoying this process makes it all that much more worth it when we do finish a piece. It helps keep us inspired and it is what truly pushes me forward personally and creatively. 

Here are some things I truly believe about the creative process:

Sometimes it’s hard and that’s not a bad thing.

Sometimes we will get bored. (Try a different route!)

We have to learn to like the process instead of focusing on the results.

We need to let ourselves enjoy the creative process/work. (I’m over people thinking that just because something is enjoyable that it’s not work. Work is work. Some of us have just figured out ways to make it fun.)

We should let ourselves make mistakes. Let ourselves make “ugly” art. Art that’s not picture perfect. Art that doesn’t make sense to us.

We should even let ourselves take a break and come back when we are ready to complete it instead of powering through for the sake of a finished project. Breaks are life giving.

Art isn’t about being featured in a museum. Or about getting published. Or reaching 1 million followers. It’s about creation. 

Lest we forget, many well-known artists never made money or became famous until years and years after passing away. But they didn’t stop creating because they enjoyed the process and it gave them purpose.

Some days we just have to start somewhere and figure it out from there. In these moments we learn the most: to accept ourselves, to challenge ourselves to a new technique or style, to let our quirky brilliance flow from our very fingertips. 

As long as we allow ourselves to begin, fail, start again, and try to love the heck out of it in the process, we are doing our creative souls a service. 

That is something I can cheers to.

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