Friday, 20 July 2018

Long Silence

Recently I read a facebook post from an artist friend saying how she realized she “didn’t make” anything in almost a year. She sounds like she feels guilty about it.

Her post resonated with me at this point of time, as it does with many creative people. Regardless of how busy we are with the day jobs, families and everything else we are involved with – we have a need to create and make. I’m not talking about “busy fingers” making. I’m talking about meaningful, thought provoking making.

I would like to find out if all humans feel that way? (Is it a “human condition”?) Or is there really such a thing as “artist’s mind”?

As I have contact with lots of creative people I tend to think that we are all like that (at least to a degree), but every now and then I am told something like “you are an artist, you are different” that leaves me in a stunned silence (really? HOW am I different?)

So how to break that creative silence?
The question is not as simple as it sounds – it depends on the cause of “silence”.
Creative thinking requires empty time, uncluttered by distractions of our busy lives, and lots of mental energy. 

Just as seeds can sit dormant for years until the conditions are right, so can the “creative mind” wait silently for the right time. And we know when the time is right. For me it usually starts with the guilty feelings of “I haven’t been in the studio for a while” and “I should really be making”.

This is usually followed by the few false starts, dragging myself to the studio (“Why do I feel like this, I LOVE the studio, what is wrong with me?”) and being utterly unhappy with everything I make.

This is the danger zone. Important thing is to go through it. Just be there. Show up. Even if it doesn’t work out and you have nothing to show after a whole day of making (working/procrastinating) come back tomorrow. It is a part of a process and (at least for me) there is no way around it. Being through it a few times, now I can see the pattern and my family knows to brace themselves for turbulence. We all know that it will pass. The only question is will I go through it or back down?

Having a deadline is usually a good incentive to persist and push through that barrier. Knowing that most of us go through those cycles helps too. I look at it in terms of seasons. There is time for planting, dormancy, germinating and growth. Ideas are seeds.
For me, the silence has been broken and I can start making again.


  1. oh that squishy textured slabby bit should get you going... yes a commitment to a deadline sort of helps - good luck

  2. Do you go through this too???

  3. Hi Andrea, I am so happy I have read this as go through this consistently. I always feel like I must be producing something. I was finally in the groove only to find my thermocouple needed replacing. After finding the money and then getting the motivation to replace it I then went through the process of making pieces, bisquing, then I made up seven new cone six glazes. Yahoo, again I stopped for a while and made home made soaps instead. My mojo came back and after reorganising my space I finally glazed some pieces for testing. Alas the kiln wouldn’t get to temperature. Buggar, I now need to replace my elements. I again have to wait until I can afford the $387. Next week I am paying for them. Then the task of replacing them and hopefully I will get my pieces fired. The next stage then will be to work out what combinations of tests will work. A lot more work is involved in making pottery than anyone outside the field would ever believe.