Energy Out, Energy In

A few days ago, I posted about a painting of a hand I’d done. It had been a few days since I’d worked on the painting at all, and the initial surge of energy had long passed, so I decided to send it off into cyber-space unfinished.

Just sitting myself down to write those few sentences took quite some effort. And yet, as soon as I finished writing and pressed publish, I looked at the piece again and pulled it up on my iPad. Just to change one tiny thing. Then, an hour or so later, I exported the final piece and put it on Instagram.

This series of events confirmed something I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks. That my own creative energy doesn’t work the way my brain thinks it should:

Energy out leads to energy in. Creativity leads to creativity. And work leads to work.

Put another way: An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest.

I often find myself having to fight with the heat of a thousand suns to sit myself down into a creative posture and actually do the work. The hardest part is moving the object (me) from rest (sitting on my bed twiddling on my phone, not enjoying my rest, or actually resting, but simply squandering time scrolling) into motion (doing something creative that I’ve deemed valuable). Once I’m in (creative) motion, I usually stay in (creative) motion. But getting in motion can be a bear. (This rule also applies to physical activity for me, too)

And I believe this “law of creative physics” can be true in micro and macro settings. That creativity spawns creativity. In spare evening hours, yes. But also in months of shifting seasons. And across long years. And through entire lifetimes. Because, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

I want to spend my life creating beautiful things and enjoying my time. And to do that, I must dislodge myself from (unhealthy) rest, and force myself into the rush of (creative) motion.

And to do that, I must get a chair. (I will talk about this chair in my next post)

This is imperfect, and I already have many qualms and qualifiers with these thoughts, but I will leave it there, because it is better to have something finished, not perfect.

A Painted Hand

Hooray! Hooray! For those moments of sudden inspiration. And energy to boot! To stay up many hours past my bedtime to create a thing.

This time, to (digitally) paint a hand, on a Friday night after dinner with new friends. Where, at one point, one of them scrolled back through old artwork of mine, and I became fixated on the (digital) oil paintings of figures I did a couple years back. My how the time goes.

Here, the piece, a couple days later. I can’t tell if I’ll do more to it, the spark of inspiration has passed. It is quite a fickle thing, inspiration. And pushing forward regardless is a skill I must work to improve. Must, must, must.

But here is something. Something I made.

And above is a screenshot from the process, as well as the original image I used as reference. A portrait of the great artist, David Hockney.

A Lens of Celebration

Van Neistat, filmmaker and older brother of Casey Neistat, released the first videos on his brand new YouTube channel – a series called The Spirited Man. I was ecstatic to see this, and even more so when I watched the videos. Then watched them again. And again and again and again. And fell in love with them.

It is hard to say what I love so much about this trailer and this series. The handmade quality in a world of digitally created and pixel-processed work? The moments of silence and peace in a sea of noisy and hype-based media? The clear and ever-present lack of social media and current trends? All of this. All of it. And so much more.

But what struck me the other day watching it again is that this trailer is simply a celebration of the things that make Van unique as a filmmaker and a human. He celebrates the ways he is different. He celebrates what makes him spirited, and encourages others to do the same.

I wrote down “celebrate what you love” in my notebook, then, curious, typed it into Google. Immediately, I found this beautiful TED Talk, from a former National Geographic photographer that plucked so many of the strings in my mind and heart that I had just tuned.

Here are a couple of my favorite moments, quotes from Dewitt Jones:

I just decided that if I had a choice between a world based on scarcity and fear, and one based on possibility… Then man I was choosing possibility. And no matter how dry and desolate, no matter how bleak and devoid of possibility a situation might seem – if I could just celebrate the best in it… I could find a perspective that would transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.”

Celebrating what’s right is not a perspective that denies the very real pain and suffering that exists on this planet. Rather, it’s a perspective that puts those problems into a larger, more balanced context.”

The world becomes a more beautiful place when we are actively working to celebrate it.

No matter how strange a situation that I walk into, the first thing I’m gonna ask is, ‘What’s here to celebrate? What am I falling in love with?”

Find what you love – anything you love. Write it down, think about why you love it, and celebrate that thing. That’s something I’m going to strive to do in all my work moving forward – it’s something I can’t get out of my mind.