It’s a funny time to ask, having already created a blog to share my evolving artistic endeavors. Yet the question has nagged at me anew since my very recent foray into blogging. Although it’s possibly a tangential inquiry, I also wonder how sharing is connected to the creative process. All might agree that art is a form of expression. Does that mean, almost by definition, that creative output should be shared? Is this perhaps a variant of the age-old query: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
If we don’t share the things we create do they really exist? To what degree does the act of sharing, and the response generated, change the work? If we do something and no one is there to like it on our chosen social media outlet, did it really happen?
The last question is a joke, really, but I do think one’s relationship with social media and the intentions behind sharing through the varied online options are worth examining. What if no one likes a post? Does that mean it wasn’t worth making? Should one aim for popularity or post the pieces that are most personally meaningful?
Why do I, someone without any current interest in sales and a very small social media footprint, share my creative work online? First, I want to evolve and I think that’s more difficult to do in a vacuum. I am enriched by people’s comments, which sometimes help me see something new. I also enjoy connecting with folks about topics that are jointly meaningful. Most of all, lofty as it may sound, I like the possibilities of inspiring a positive feeling. For example, my paintings are often described as soothing. What’s not to like about encouraging calm in our strife-filled world?
Even so, I don’t always know what people think or whether they’ve even seen a post. Therefore, the response from others can’t be the whole story. Maybe we first need to understand what drives us to create something. Why make another painting? Why write a blog post or poem or story? Are the motivations highly variable? Or is there a universal drive at work?
To articulate my personal answers about the reasons for creativity is more difficult than I had expected. Maybe that’s one reason we make art – to express things that are challenging to characterize or explain in linear form. Wondering why we create may be a bit like asking why we exist or why we breathe. I understand some folks make things for utility or monetary gain. But I doubt those are the reasons an artist keeps at it, particularly in the early stages.
I can say with certainty that the anticipated unveiling is not what motivates me to put paint on canvas. Quite the opposite, actually. Nor do poems, or even blog posts, start with an audience in mind. Rather, creative expression feels more like my soul’s urging, something to fill the corners of my being, a way to expand an otherwise partially inflated balloon.
How I feel in the world is directly proportional to how much creative energy I generate and express. Sometimes I make excuses – I’m so busy; I don’t know how to paint well; My thoughts are disorganized; I’m not good enough. And every time I say no to myself in these ways, I feel my energy wither. The possibilities for myself shrink and I become fatigued from holding myself against the beautiful current that wants to guide me. In contrast, when I say yes, when I allow my personality concerns to be consumed by the joy of creating, I am expanded.
We are all creators, aren’t we? Sifters and shifters of energy in different forms? Not everyone paints, but we all make something new by virtue of our presence and choices about how we express. And don’t we all look for ways to be ourselves most fully? Don’t we all feel best when we allow ourselves to be swept up by a wave of creative energy, in whatever form that takes?
So why not share? Whether imperfect or still in development, why not let others see what we’re like in full expression? Because when we do – when we offer the results of ourselves in fullness – perhaps that is when art becomes love.
Speaking of love…I’d really love to hear your thoughts!