Bonus creativity

August 17, 2007

Dear Rodney,

Here's a simple system that builds creativity immediately.
(Writing that line made me feel like a snake-oil salesman. But
I digress.) I'm talking about pushing yourself to doing just
one more thing every day. Results are guaranteed if you do it
for a week. (Sorry, there I go again.)

With personal biorhythms, obligations, as well as climate,
season, and other factors, we all have our times of maximum
creativity and efficiency. In my case I seem to be at my best
in the early morning before my studio staff arrives and the
phone starts ringing. I run out of steam in mid-afternoon and
often break for a Dorothy-walk or a snooze. The evening finds
me cranking things up again, but the energy and focus level can
be short-lived and I'm soon ready for bed.

The idea is to perform one more creative act before turning out
the lights. Tiredness contributes in a way one does not expect.
Casualness and the feeling of "something extra" make their
mark. A lackadaisical twenty-minute afterthought becomes a
creative bonus.

The system has some practical advantages. Using leftover paint
is one of them. Renoir was known to have relished the system.
He made ever smaller sketches until his day's palette was
clean. In my case I often find large blobs of unused colour on
the palette. This "waste" is often the springboard to a new
direction. Freshly eyed in the cold grey light of dawn the now
dry afterthought is again ready for action. The pump has been
primed. Sometimes I can't wait to play with the darned thing.

The afterthought bonus slyly adds further variety and range to
your body of work. The human psyche is a deep well of untapped
resources. While you may be mentally and physically fading, you
are still "hot" enough to plunge in. Another thing--it's easy
to think of what we do as precious and deserving of major
preparation. Not always. In my experience some of the best
stuff comes from inconsequential, even happenstance beginnings.
If you try this idea in your studio, be prepared for surprises,
and don't be surprised when some of the nighttime bonuses are
substandard as well. It's part of the game.

Seizing the day, even in its dying hour, gives another chance
to be bold--a new beginning that just happens to be at the end.

Best regards,