Art and life require problem solving. Great art, like a fullfilling life, must meet both ups and downs, joy and sorrow, black and white in a way that requires creative solutions to find hope in the bad, and amplify our feelings of joy and gratitude in the good. Though our environment and the outside world provide endless inspiration for creative expression, it is how this information is “digested” by your creative sensitivities that makes it personal. Ha?

A tree is a tree is a tree. Or is it? Well, there are many kinds of trees and one can photograph a tree and this is one way to express yourself. But what makes your expression of that tree uniquely you is how you feel about that tree. Your life has shaped you in a way unlike any other person; your reaction to “the tree” is thus different from anyone else’s. So, ask yourself, what is it about THIS tree that you are most interested in? You may be more interested in the rough, deeply textured bark, the delicate needles of a pine, the pin prick insect holes that make a lovely pattern or the tree’s overall towering shape. Your life has made you sensitive to some things more than others. It is up to you to sift and sort through all the possibilities and turn yourself into a large sieve with small holes so only the most inspiring moments, events, scenes or objects can slip through for further inspection and interpretation!

However, the extent of what you experience in your life is not restricted to what you see. Your life is an individual entity that contains all the fuel and substance to elevate your creativity to the highest level. Your memories, thoughts, reactions, beliefs, compassion, empathy, love and hate can be expressed through a more abstracted version of your world that is deeply personal. There is a wide expanse between realism and abstraction and somewhere in between you will discover the best fit for you.

Your unique personal voice depends on deep introspection and observation as you progress through your living, breathing life. What you have to say today may not be what you had to say ten years ago; what you have to say when the sun is shining is most likely not what you will want to express when you’ve just suffered great loss. What do your feelings about your life look like with regard to color, shape, line and texture when you are in love versus when you’ve just broken up with your soul mate? Your response can and should align with your emotions and feelings. Even a painting of sunflowers by Van Gogh can feel extraordinarily beautiful and joyous, yet evoke his feelings of torment and pain. Is it easy to dive deeply and search for personal content, ie, your soul? Of course not! The life of a creative person is continually searching, moving through blind passageways and discovering bits of truth along the way. And, though some may feel they’ve “arrived”, I personally don’t envision feeling I’ve arrived or discovered anything significant compared to the journey I will take tomorrow.

Our creative challenge is lifelong and aligns with a journey we cannot foresee. We cannot possibly know the full extent of what we wish to say in our creativity beyond where we currently are. Tomorrow holds a whole new experience that awaits our interpretation, and at any point in time darkness or light may throw you a curveball or a cure. If you focus on capturing the moment, the feeling you had, are having or anticipate you’ll have, who else in this world can visually express it better than you? No one. In this alone lies the contentment for those courageous enough to choose the creative path.