“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” —Thomas A. Edison
Just as I was finishing this blog post, a creative person I follow online (Jamie Ridler Studios) sent her newsletter with the title “The Power of Discontent.” She used the Edison quote in her post, which I thought was especially fitting so will post it here also.
For a time this past beastly hot Florida spring and summer, the way forward wasn’t clear despite all the plans I'd made. I needed to strike a balance of planning well, mixed with practice, trusting myself and the others who guide me, but not over planning, leaving some things to chance and a sense of play, all while holding my vision of (my too precious) outcomes.
Let me be more specific. When I practice painting a piece of artwork on scrap paper or inexpensive canvas boards, my "studies" turn out fairly well. But when approaching the big canvas, which may be blank or may be a hot mess from earlier trials, I often freeze. Of course, losing the sense of just playing around and suddenly attaching all sorts of expectations to the work is the antithesis of creativity.
Having finally begun to recognize when this is happening earlier in the creative process, I laid the troublesome canvas flat, grabbed a crummy old cheap brush, and squeezed paint direct from the tub onto the surface. Mixing the colors with rhythmic brushstrokes back and forth, again and again, telling myself, "All you have to do is lay down color.”
Fortunately, the fissures and bumps from the earlier botched effort came through in just the right places to for this landscape scene. A place of desolation and enduring light. A place where the winds of absolute discontent drive me onward.