I often think about what the attraction is to pottery for many people - apart from the wish to make pots magically on the wheel. I belong to the Deep River Potters' Guild which has a fully equipped ceramic studio. These past few years have been particularly rewarding as we have had several really keen new members who have introduced the rest of us to lots of new styles and work and who are not afraid to take on new challenges in terms of the kind of work that they make. Many of them have mentioned that there are so many different aspects to clay - something for everyone - that you can never get bored. They mention how it allows them to be creative and that the creative process often gives them a "high" and how they can get lost in the process. I know the feeling well!
How do you get into that creative high? John Cleese has given several talks on the topic: ( http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680999/4-lessons-in-creativity-from-john-cleese )
Several of his tips really resonate with me. First you need to have uninterrupted time and lots of it - at least an hour and a half because it takes about 1/2 an hour to get really into it and then you need time for those unconscious ideas to percolate. Secondly you should delay making decisions about a project until the last minute. We feel a bit stressed if we have not made a decision but by delaying it as much as possible it gives our unconscious minds even more time to come up with more creative ideas. So leave unfinished work around - you will eventually come up with a more brilliant plan on how to finish it. However once you have come up with a decision, then you need to focus and get the project done.
That need for uninterrupted time is something that has started to worry me. I have just finished reading a book - "A Deadly Wandering - A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention" by Matt Richtel. It is the true story of a teenager who killed two people while texting and driving. The story is interspersed with chapters on past and present research on what technology is doing to our brains and especially to young children whose brains have not fully developed. To be creative we need uninterrupted time - and when I look around everyone is texting/talking/checking emails -so it is getting harder and harder to do! The book explains how each interruption brings a squirt of dopamine in the brain - so these interruptions can become addictive. Then when you need to focus to get your project done - the interruptions again affect your brain's ability - the part that works with the focus and reasoning part - as the research mentioned in the book indicates.
Another tip from John is to work in a group. I find that I love to look at other people's work as I not only learn from it but can also be inspired by it whether it is a beginner or expert!. Although I work mostly at home I do all my glazing and firings at the Guild. All our firings end up as communal so we get lots of members work in each firing - whether it is in the electric or gas kilns. So kiln openings can get rather exciting as we exchange comments and discuss the results! Lots of opinions and that is what gets the creative juices flowing and what makes belonging to the Guild so rewarding.
So here is to finding time, lots of uninterrupted time and making lots of great new work in 2015!
Hanging your life on clay.
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