• thomas neel scenic view
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The Artist's Perspective - Creative Growth

As we wind down 2014 and another year passes, this is the time of year I really start looking closely at the next year and what I want from it. As an artist, one thing I always intend is for creative longevity and happiness. This, by the way, is not just about working a long time, but rather to be creatively expressing myself a long time and so far, so good.

Creativity though, is both a learning process and an evolutionary one. As we learn more we naturally evolve, but as we age we also naturally evolve in our perspective of life and this in turn, affects our creative expression as much as anything. Life and certainly time itself moves differently as we age and creative expression and our personal feelings about it, move right along with it.

There are those who have lived very uncreative lives that all of a sudden feel a deep burning desire for it and go on a creative treasure hunt later in life. This can be much like learning a new language and unless kept fun, can stop them in their tracks too or become very rewarding. But there are others who have been creative their whole life in one form or another, that seek a new flight of stairs and some have been stuck on a staircase landing, progression-less for years and want to ascend again.

I think not only the most creative artists, but the happiest ones, continually seek new ground, reinvention, rejuvenation, growth, broaden scope and challenges. As an example for myself, I know one thing I’ve developed is a love of larger scale. This doesn’t necessarily mean the story or the narrative has to become more complex, but the story’s visual impact does and so I continually develop this. This is an evolutionary growth.

But there can also be revolutionary growth as well, where by what comes out of you is not familiar. It’s not like changing subject matter while maintaining your style. I’m talking about more radical transformations where you have become unrecognizable in your new work. Frankly, if you are a professional, this revolutionary departure may leave your collector base scratching their heads, but it may be necessary for your voice and satisfaction as an artist. Art should feel like freedom, not shackles and chains.

Your longevity as any type of an artist may also have to do with your commercial success and what you have become known for. I think collectors expect growth too. They may not wish for radical change, but I don’t think they celebrate stagnation either. Write a hit song and your audience is always going to want to hear it, but with growth comes new hits and even broadened nostalgic appeal.

As you look towards next year and your artistic future, try to look where your are going and not where you are. Fixation on where you are is in itself anti-growth and creative growth is the key to creative longevity. Give yourself goals of growth and forward looking objectives for your creative expression and as these final weeks of 2014 fly by and that new year arrives, it will bring a more natural renewal and creative flow.

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