Creative Block and Renewal

The latter part of my 2016 was so jam-packed, I forgot what RELAX even means anymore.

Seriously though, it was so chaotic that I even missed putting up a review for our host in HK during the 14-day period Airbnb provides for their users, which bothers me terribly, but will probably just save that for a separate post.

So going back, when all the trips, adventures and all the holiday hoopla finally died down, I realized my body must have missed bumming around, writing, playing with watercolors, brushes, GIMP and all that shizz. That’s because for the last 5 days (January 1st not included), I have been doing nothing but catching up on some blogging and tenenenenen…

Designing!

Yeah, well, no biggie right? Well, it is for me!

You see, there were times when I silently panic because I thought I’m losing touch with meee artsy soul. It gets worse because sometimes I feel like I don’t want anything to do with art altogether. Could it be what they call the dreaded Creative Block? I’m not so sure about that, but fortunately, I realized soon enough that I could never ever get tired of ART.

ART is one of the things on earth that makes me feel alive. When God brought me to life, He must have breathed a multitude of rainbows, unicorns and stars into me, much like the sparkly stuff you vomit on Snapchat, except that it’s the other way around. On a serious note, we all grew up surrounded by our Father’s majestic creations and I with my papa’s work, his passion and creativity, so I blame it all on those why art definitely runs through my veins now, and why I know I could never ever get tired of it.

So after climbing mountains, doing touristy stuff in a foreign land, downing heaps of Christmas sweets and then washing tons of holiday dishes, not to mention partying with the girlfriends and then mourning for a grandfather 2 days after, my body must have snapped because my hand just involuntarily grabbed a brush and started creating art once again!

If that was indeed creative block that I went through, then I’m glad I snapped out of it, all thanks to the inspiration I found throughout my [mis]adventures!

I looked it up and found out that creative block can be resolved by a change in the environment or a break from the routine, facts that aren’t new to us, and techniques that are undeniably effective. Two of the tips designer and writer, Tom May listed were (see the entire list HERE):

  • Don’t be afraid to step away
    • Completely open briefs can be the worst for causing creative block. Try to distance yourself from the project; take a break and come back to it with a clear head.
  • Look in unlikely places
    • Go and do something else entirely. You’d be amazed at where new ideas are hiding out. They’re often where you would least expect them to be.

He also mentioned exploring other creative disciplines which is why it would be helpful to have a hobby outside of your hobby (LOL), in my case, Photography.

I may have babbled more than I have to, again so before this goes entirely out of hand, I leave you with some of the stuff I have been doing lately to release the already overflowing creative juices I gratefully gained in the past months or so.

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This was my favorite line from the latest Disney film, Moana, which reminded me so much of my own grandmother. I also made this for me to keep in mind that God is always with us. 🙂

Also made this odd-looking (and definitely one-of-a-kind) dreamcatcher for the bestie!

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I must say that my year ended with a bang and even though it was overwhelming, I couldn’t have wished for anything better because it reignited my love for ART in more ways than one. Now, I’m back, feeling renewed and more than inspired to CREATE again, to spread optimism and of course God’s love through ART.

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Inspiration & Creativity

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Where do you usually get your inspiration from?

If someone cornered you and suddenly put you on the spot today and asked you this, what would your answer be?

Would you say, from God? from the greatest people that ever lived? from your family? from those geniuses that brought forth innovation and changes to the world?

or perhaps from a song that touched your deepest core (it’s redundant, isn’t it?)? or maybe from a great work of art, a movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat, a moving speech, a blog article?

While all of those are true and would probably be my answers too to that jerk who would be responsible for my sudden death due to a ruptured aneurysm triggered by him popping out of nowhere and cornering me just to ask this question (ang wild ng imagination!), I would like to say that well, God is first and foremost where I get my inspiration from, because after all, everything I mentioned right after Him came from Him. But that’s a given.

Also a given is my family, friends, loved ones or those people who go out of their way to help other people by all means, including their jobs, their creative work, their passion etc.

But had you asked me today, well, right before I wrote this entry, to be specific, I would probably say from the writers on MEDIUM. If you don’t have an account on this site yet, I suggest you make one. It will change your life forever.

Well, I might have exaggerated that last statement more than I should have. Though, I still have to say, signing up on Medium has got to be one of those precious “end-of-life-as-I-know-it” moments of my existence (not an exaggeration).

It’s not much different from Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog, except that I learn loads from Medium in terms of real life lessons supported by studies and research and experience, more thought provoking insights which don’t just circle around break ups and moving on, and perhaps more inspiration to get you moving or to put into action whatever you just read because you know that apart from your emotions, your thoughts have also been fired up! In fact, they even have articles that share the top sites where you can sign up for free online courses, articles that give tips on how to write more effectively and even articles that suggest great apps for productivity!

One more thing I like about Medium is it made me want to read more and not just more, but more substantial articles, which in turn made me want to write more, hence this uber long blog post.

I’m not saying that the other similar sites don’t offer such articles and don’t have such creative geniuses, because a lot would probably disagree, but I really want to stress on the fact that I get way more of these from Medium. Anyway, before this turns into a promotional entry, which it isn’t, I’d like to share 2 articles I read today that really inspired me to:

  1. Go after what I really want, and
  2. Become more introspective and self-aware to delve into what sparks creativity right within ourselves/myself

I won’t go far in explaining what the articles are about (although by the looks of it, I think I already have). You can read them yourselves. The first one being, “Give Yourself Something to Pursue” by Thomas Oppong. Judging by the title itself, you can already assume that it is a motivational/inspirational article, and a good one at that. Oppong authored lots of similarly moving articles which is why I’ve subscribed to his Postanly newsletter and followed him on Medium. He’s one of the best writers I’ve discovered, and I’m glad I did because his works are hands downs, my absolute pick-me-ups especially in troublesome, inspiration-less days.

And did I say that there’s an option for you to highlight words, statements or even paragraphs that you feel like saving, to read for later or to go back to in the future? Because there is. I did highlight quite a lot on this article alone because dayuummm, like what I said on the comment section, I really think that everything is “highlightable”. It’s either that good, or I’m just too emotional.

The other article I was talking about earlier (which is one of the recommended articles at the end of Oppong’s) is Jory MacKay‘s “Is solitude the secret to unlocking our creativity?. It is quite a lot to take in, a lot of Pyschological stuff, which made it more interesting, if you’re into that.

It mainly discussed how the creative process works inside our brains and how creativity is produced/stimulated through certain periods of……ten-nen-ten-nen-nen…, you guessed it right and it wasn’t even given away in the title earlier,”SOLITUDE“!! It also pointed out a lot of supporting discoveries by creativity researchers (which I think is a really great job btw), one of which I really liked, Graham Wallas‘ take on the creativity process that involved 4 steps: Preparation, INCUBATION (period of solitude), Illumination (the Eureka moment, which wouldn’t be possible if there wasn’t an Incubation period), and Verification.

I also liked the fact that creative thinkers were concluded to be BOTH “more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier yet adamantly saner, than the average person”. Ang gulo diba? Those are a lot of extremes!

Creative thinkers/geniuses were also concluded to have “an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for ambiguity and complexity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray”. We have Frank X. Barron to thank for coming up with these conclusions.

I find it quite comforting to know that there is an explanation for my tolerance for disorder. You see, I’ve always believed that artists are messy, so I’ve often pictured their desks to be chaotic, but nonetheless still very conducive to creativity. This is one reason why I appreciated this article very much. I mean, just look at my workplace below:

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There there! I told you it’s a lot to take in, but isn’t it worth the read? Anyway, if you noticed, I emphasized INCUBATION above. If I got it right, it is the most crucial step in the creative process, hence the title of MacKay’s article.

Wallas said that this is when the you let the unconscious take over the creative process. You let go and let the brain be. Isn’t God the greatest for creating our brain in such a powerful way that it can work without you having to give it commands? So basically, this period of rest, solitude, letting go or whatever you may want to call it, is significant because as MacKay pointed out, “letting go of your consciousness lets the deeper parts of your mind come in and make connections.”

Therefore, it is important for us to practice controlling our unconscious mind because this is how our brains develop or formulate the world’s greatest ideas. This is how the brain builds up to that certain point where the imaginary bulb lights up in our brains, and makes you cry out, EUREEEEEKA!!!!

There you go! That was my reaction paper for one of the most thought-provoking and another for one of the most moving articles I’ve read. Rume-reaction paper talaga! Gutom lang to!

So Imma go have my lunch now and maybe practice meditating so I can set out into the world to pursue my dream! Boy, these articles sure make a big and deep impact on my crazy brain!

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What it means to be Creative?

I’ve always been drawn to everything handmade or personalized and that strong penchant for such things dates back to my late grade school years to early high school, I think.

We had a couple of home economics and art projects that I admit, up until now, I’d love to do again. There was a project that made us use these gold leaves that I absolutely loved, then there’s the pots that we painted, boxes that we covered with sand and a miniature tallboy that we had to decorate with wood-finish stickers. Every bit of project made my heart skip a beat, though I admit, I’m the type who doesn’t feel the need to make every masterpiece perfect, so I never did. That’s just an excuse to make myself feel better about my not so beautiful creations, but I’m still proud of those. 😛

Fast forward to the present day, that strong passion to make butingting and kalikot, to make things out of scrap or to create something that was inspired by another’s work of art or a happy memory or feeling has definitely become a favorite hobby and a way to release tension and even combat stress. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing and it helps keep the creative juice flowing!

I think that it also helps that when I want something, but can’t afford to buy it, I try as much as I could to create it. I’m a master DIYer (right) and an expert improviser (cool, there is such a word!) and there’s nothing in the world that little research on the internet can’t fix nowadays.

When I had the craziest craving for everything red velvet, I baked cupcakes and crinkles myself. When I wanted food, I find everything that I could put into the pan to cook it. When I saw creative wall art on pinterest or tumblr, I bought the cheapest materials I could find and voila, out came my imperfect but still lovely pieces of art on my so-called Wall of Weird!

Here are some of the things I’ve created so far. Some have been collaborations with my sister and mother (I don’t know how to use a sewing machine beacuse I’m too scared to use one actually).

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Craved bread with tomatoes, cheese and basil (fresh from our graden-naks!)

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I think this was the time when I made pancakes from scratch, no pre-made commercial mixes, and it turned out to be very simple and easy to do! I even tossed in some long-time stored choco-chips to make the morning sweeter!

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I’ve always loved my tita’s baked macaroni and I also loved how she used to baked them in these leche flan containers. feeling reminiscent of this lovely childhood memory, I made baked macaroni one time and I just added all the cheese we had at home (I think there were 4 types in there) and then topping them with nestle cream! Manang (who’s a bit choosy when it comes to food) actually liked it and I know it because she helped herself to a couple more servings after her first.

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We always make our own flowers for All Saints’ Day. This might be my least favorite thing to do, thus the eye-catching arrangement!

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I’m so in love with artworks inspired by the outer space. I wanted to make another piece with my zodiac sign on it, but I had only one canvas, so I put these two together. I think I also saw this idea of sticking in christmas/fairy lights into a painting on pinterest, thus the latest masterpiece I have at home.

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My sister and I loved kimono cardigans and when she found an easy tutorial online, we used the lovely fabrics we hoarded from divisoria to make a bunch of them.

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Here’s the first one we made and on the picture below is another one we made. My sister cut the fabric while Mama sewed them together.

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But before we made those kimonos, I cut a small piece from the fabric above to make myself my own camera strap. I couldn’t be more stingy and didn’t want to buy a real camera strap yet, so I made myself one instead. I just had to make it stiffer and stronger by adding a canvas fabric inside.

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Thank goodness for light leaks, otherwise, you could have seen how messy the ends of the strap turned out.

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another one of my breakfast creations using sexy chix Arabiata (yep this was way before Jasmine Curtis’ tvc came out). I topped it with basil (also fresh from the garden) for a fancy presentation.

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I think I just saw the movie, The Fault in our Stars which made me paint the iconic book cover a couple of times! It was also the time when I was doing some general cleaning in my room that I found my father’s lost watercolors. I knew I couldn’t hold back my excitement then so I just haphazardly finished cleaning just to stare at them.

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I also painted the TFIOS book cover on a small canvas that has now been put up on my Wall of Weird ever since.

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One of the latest projects I did was my own dreamcatcher. As usual, it looked weird because I added a small burlap ring in the middle of it to make it a bit different than the normal one. I bought the ring and feathers from this seamstress haven in farmers mall and the burlap and jute strings in my favorite place in the world, divisoria. 🙂

So what does it mean to be creative? Are those with talent the only ones whom we can truly call creative? Where and how does creativity emerge?

For me, creativity is part of human nature. Our earliest ancestors have been creating shelter, clothing and food (preparing food) from basic materials ever since they first walked the earth. Up until now, centuries after, people are still creating something new, mostly to make life easier, some for pleasure and others for artistic expression.

To create also means to undergo a process wherein certain factors such as passion and inspiration are both needed. So talent may be optional, as far I can see. Sadly though, people may find it confusing to differentiate between inspiration and copying when they create. I read an entry about this yesterday on GooglyGooeys and I was a bit scared that my so-called creativity is just a product of “copying off someone else’s work” especially those whom I idolize a lot. Good thing, after some thorough self-analysis and self-denial (LOL), it turns out that I may not be a copycat after all since I do have my own style, my own, weird ideas and concepts that pop up in mind upon seeing and appreciating other people’s work.

Lastly, as Ponggo pointed out, “Creativity is doing something everyone else is doing but in a new way” (Alex Alata). 🙂