Right Creativity

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut
Cityscape in color, ink on paper.
A drawing I did a few years ago, just playing with colors. – Rentai

Yesterday I finished a painting that I started during the craziness called 2020. I had put it aside, completely dissatisfied, years ago to collect dust in the garage. And dust it did collect, along with some spiderwebs.

Yesterday, I cleaned it off and spent an hour or so finishing it. I’m still dissatisfied, but I know I need to let it go. It’s done. I could keep working on this particular piece, but sometimes you just know when it’s time to move on from a project.

At the same time, I’m satisfied because my real goal was to practice creativity through painting. Today it’s to practice through writing this post, and hopefully working on my next novel later. A novel, by the way, with a similar past of getting put away, with me dissatisfied. However, I’ll admit, for a novel, I won’t be able to bring myself to call it done if there’s any level of dissatisfaction. Writing, after all, is my main creative practice. That’s my JAM.

Creativity is definitely a meditative practice for me, bordering on spiritual. Sometimes it just flows, and other times it’s the monkey mind running amok. Meditative practice isn’t always as calm as a still lake. More often than not, there’s ripples aplenty, or little waves lapping on the shore, or someone (a.k.a. my mind) just plowed their way through on a jet ski. Creativity can be like that as well.

The paint on the brush seems just to gracefully glide onto the canvas. The ink gives you a perfectly unbroken line. Things feel exactly right. And then the next moment comes and you realize there’s not enough paint on the brush and now there’s rough spots to fix, or the pen’s running dry and there’s a sad little wisp of a line where it should be bold. Things don’t feel exactly right.

I’m convinced that, either way, it is right. Because it’s being creative, attempting to express one’s thoughts or ideas or feelings. If it fails to match on the page or the canvas what you had in your head, that doesn’t make it wrong. If you’re doing it for work and you have specific criteria that isn’t met, perhaps you’ll have to do another version. Perhaps you’ll have to change what you’re working on, but my opinion is that it was not wrong in the first place. It was just a version that didn’t fit what you needed. Perhaps it’d fit elsewhere.

And of course that’s going to apply to this imperfect post. I could spend hours reworking this post to make it some “better” version, thinking that the post was wrong. But it’s not wrong, it’s just a version. And I prefer to pour my energy towards getting my bigger projects to have a closer alignment to what I had in mind. This one post isn’t it. This is just me, having a few words on a chilly January morning to share, before I head out the door for some groceries.

Chili is on the menu, I think. Then later, perhaps creativity’s my snack.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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