art, artist, blues, brush strokes, canvas, cave painting, champ de lin, Christian artist, create, creative, creativity, David Kassan, Etam Cru, Flax, Hesdin, inspiration, Jonah Lehrer, landscape, Michael Nyman, Pas-de-Calais
This last couple of weeks have been a time of minor revelations.
Firstly I discovered that I like the music of minimalist composer Michael Nyman. Not that much, but enough to want to learn his name.
Also I discovered the work of Etam Cru (EtamCru.com). Who are Bezt and Sainer from Poland who create huge murals on walls throughout Poland and are getting a fair bit of internet coverage right now. And I’ve also been enjoying the work of David Kassan (davidkassan.com) as well; a New York based portrait painter who’s work I’ve a lot of empathy for… if you can have empathy for a painting that is.
But what I’ve also discovered is that I dislike landscapes almost passionately! I’ve been working on the painting in the photo recently, which is a landscape of a flax field in Hesdin in Pas-de-Calais in Northern France where we’ve stayed a couple of times as a family, and it’s been driving me bonkers. It’s very probable that I’m just not mature enough yet as an artist to see how they’re not, but I find landscapes so restrictive. Try as I might I could not inject any… anything into the painting that I actually enjoyed! Michelle liked it, but I just wanted to poke it with the wood end of my brush and yell “BORING!” at it! Now that doesn’t mean I don’t like landscape paintings as a genre, I do, I really do, but I have just discovered that I don’t enjoy painting them… yet.
This has also confirmed something to me that I don’t think I have been consciously aware of up until now, and that is that artists and other creative personalities are often prone to bouts of the blues. This painting caused one.
In Jonah Lehrer’s book “Imagine – How creativity works”, he writes that “eighty percent of writers meet the criteria for the formal diagnosis of depression” and quotes Nancy Andreasen (a neuroscientist at the University of Iowa) as finding “that nearly 40 percent of the successful creative people she investigated had bipolar disorder”. He also cites psychiatrist Hagop Akskal as saying “two thirds of a sample of influential European artists (he studied) were bipolar”.
Apparently creativity has a reasonably documented cost! Of course many of us might get down just because we’re not very good, but then again, I rarely meet an artist who doesn’t want to do what they do better! Perhaps it’s that frustration at not being able to grasp “better” that gets us down, perhaps though it is also what drives us to do better! According to Lehrer scans of the brain in action show that it is only when we are stumped and at the point of giving up that revelation often occurs. Maybe this is just brain chemistry, maybe that’s when God splashes a little creative colour into our imaginations. After all, how many of us have sat back in surprise and thought “where on earth did that come from?”.
So it would seem creative types of people are much more likely to suffer from extreme highs and extreme lows. I know personally that sometimes I feel like the greatest living artist on the planet and other times I feel like a worthless, talentless soul with all the panache and talent of cold porridge. It is probably important at such times to make sure the common sense part of your brain is ruling the bit in charge of your feelings!
Perhaps then, artists are more likely to soar and crash in great peaks and troughs than anyone else and this perhaps is as much a blessing as it is a curse, but if we know we’re not alone, if we know that other artists feel similarly to us, then perhaps we can feel comforted that we’re not alone. We aren’t all lunatics after all, just different and different isn’t wrong, or right in this case, just… different.
Well, here it is…
And here’s one where I’ve played with the colour balance and filters etc. Personally, I think I prefer the wacky one.