Can your art or art-making practice positively influence people around you? Can the small act of making simple marks cause a ripple of inspiration? Ripples are small, gentle movements that can go unnoticed unless you pay attention to them, but they do have an effect on their surroundings. In the similar way, a friend could notice how your face lights up in conversation about making art and be secretly be inspired to have a go. By being yourself and sharing your joyful experiences, you silently give permission to others to do the same.
Jonathan Fields in How to Live a Good Life suggests “It’s the path of the ripple. Simple actions, movements, and experiences. Created, offered, and delivered with such a purity of intention and depth of integrity and clarity that they set in motion a ripple that, quietly, in its own way, in its own time, expands outward.” Your actions don’t need to be huge grand gestures to inspire others. A few words, enthusiasm and encouragement can have more power and resonate louder than you’d think.
Dennis Merritt Jones in The Art of Abundance speaks of the ripple effect: “If you want to change the world for the better, begin by changing yourself for the better; in the process you’ll not only discover your purpose, you’ll uncover the gift you are – and you’ll also see that the ripple effect of you truly matters to the world.”
Don’t underestimate the power of a ripple because tiny movements effect the environment whether or not anyone is noticing. Continue to share your enthusiasm and trust that those who are ready to be inspired, will notice.
“Be the light that inspires others to dream.” ― Ken Poirot
While the mind speaks louder and more forcefully about what to do, the heart has a gentler, wiser perspective. When making art, the mind may bombard with negative talk about the quality and usefulness of everything. Talk like “I should be doing something more important” or “This is rubbish! Stop immediately!” The mind wants to be instantly good at everything it tries and will go into survival mode to keep you ‘safe’ from the perceived pain/danger of being ‘bad.’ Listen only to this overdramatic voice and you’ll never make art again.
The heart on the other hand, knows you’re safe and no real pain will come from making something messy or ‘bad.’ It’s interested in what feels good and lights you up. It loves when you do more fun things, when you stop listening to the negative mind voice and embrace the play of making art. When you listen the calm heart, you hear how good it feels to make marks for fun. How playful you feel colouring something in and how relaxed and refreshed you feel after doing it.
Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist encourages “Listen to your heart. It knows all things… Because where your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. Keep listening to what it has to say.” When making your art, listen to your wise heart and let the mind take a mini vacation. Its opinion is not needed.
As an artist—whether amateur, hobbyist, professional or master—growth always follows practice. But when most of that growth cannot be seen, measured or quantified, it’s easy to feel discouraged if it feels like minimal growth has taken place. Choosing only to measure your growth by likes, comments, clicks or positive feedback and you miss out on internal markers of growth such as growing confidence, having more peace when making or increased enthusiasm to practice. These are harder to quantify, but will ultimately provide you with more nourishing feedback about your growth and progress. Feelings cannot be turned into data but are far more important than a metric number of likes. Growth IS constantly occurring, in tiny micro increments over time.
Steven Pressfield in The Artist’s Journey offers “the artist has a subject, a voice, a point of view, a medium of expression, and a style… How do we find our own? In my experience the process is neither rational nor logical. It cannot be commanded. It can’t be rushed.” The process is going to take time. In the same way you cannot rush the evolution of a tree, you cannot rush your own as an artist.
Pressfield references James Hillman’s analogy to an acorn in The Soul’s Code: “The totality of the full-grown oak is contained—every leaf and every branch—already within the acorn.” You have everything you need inside your. Practice making art and over time, more of your creative tree will be revealed. This is a slow evolution, but one that rewards along the journey.
What art will be made today?
New ideas may be born, live and die simultaneously in a single moment, as you simultaneously wrestle and nurture any creative potential. One idea may stick like tree sap to your fingers, silently collecting dust and debris as the day unfolds. Others may approach groggily, swaying back and forth just beyond reach. They will disappear unless caught quickly, which might be what they were meant to do all along. Perhaps a tiny treasure may be excavated today that seems at first look, to be a jagged rock, but over time will smooth into something unexpected. Not everything is always as it seems.
What art will you make today that allows the you-of-tomorrow to grow even stronger?
“Limited options provide clarity. And when you get stuck, sometimes the answer is not more, but it’s less.” — Ximena Vengoechea
Could your version of what art is be limiting your creativity? If you believe you need talent and skill to get started making art, think again. If you place “art” high up on an unreachable pedestal, it will be harder to fight the disappointment if your art falls short and that disappoint might eventually discourage you to try again. Let’s be honest, most artwork will fall short of a masterpiece atop an unreachable pedestal!
Danny Gregory in Art Before Breakfast explains the difference between capital “A” Art and small “a” art: “Art with a big “A” is for museums, galleries, critics and collectors. art with a small “a” is for the rest of us… Art takes Art School and Talent and years of Suffering and Sacrifice. art just takes desire and 15 minutes a day.”
If you have the desire and 15 minutes a day then you too have permission to make something. Get rid of your pedestals by embracing the small a of art.
“To be perfect brings isolation.”