Art for Art’s Sake

With no deadlines, exhibitions, performances or exams in sight, it’s a little like the Zen conundrum about a tree falling in the forest. Without a witness, does your creative work exist? Are you happy to make art for art’s sake?

Good Creative Habits

During this period of social distancing and self-isolation, it could be all too easy to slip into a malaise. However, it’s now more important than ever that we each look after our physical and mental health. And this can be an opportunity to get into good creative habits.

Most of us recognise the need for regular routines in eating, sleeping, getting dressed and maintaining personal hygiene. But how many of us see creative self-expression as a daily necessity? Physical exercise is something we know we should all do for ts own benefit. ‘Art’, on the other hand, can still be regarded as either an amusing diversion or a lucrative career option.

The latter is, of course, a rarity. Of the millions who aspire to fame and fortune through their art, only a handful will achieve them. But the creative process is available to literally everybody: anytime, anywhere. And, just as with physical exercise, this activity brings its own rewards at very little personal cost.

Creative Role Models

Normally, at this point, I would relate the topic under discussion to working with children. Clearly, the collective act of group learning has been mostly suspended for the time being. But that doesn’t mean we cease to be creative role models for our youngsters.

Many of us will have children at home. Those that don’t will be in touch with others that do. And we all influence one another through our words and deeds. So, even at a time when few pupils are in school, maintaining our own creative activity as adults remains vitally important.

Abstract Expression

So, how do you stay motivated to be creative? The best way is to not think of  motivation at all. Make your art a part of your habits and routines. And don’t think about the outcome.

A good approach is to try some abstract expression. This may sound a little fancy, possibly even pretentious. However, taken at its most basic level, it is simply about freeing yourself from expectations.

If learning a dance routine feels like an onerous task, try moving for the pure enjoyment of physical exploration. If you don’t know what to paint (or don’t think you are talented enough to represent a specific scene or image) just play with some colours and see what happens. Bored of practicing scales on your instrument? Throw away the notes and simply make some noise.

The Proverbial Forest

If not now – when? You have licence to go off piste. You can literally ‘dance like no one is watching’. This is your chance to make a habit of expressing yourself.

Don’t just do it once, though. Make it a regular part of your routine. Perhaps after getting dressed, before bed or after meals. And then see how that effects your mood and mental health over the longer term.

You are in the proverbial forest with nobody there to see you. But that doesn’t mean your art doesn’t exist. Creativity is an innate part of us all that demands an outlet.

So, if for no other reason – make art for art’s sake.

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