Art Alchemy Studio

Mixed Media Art by Chaska Peacock

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Developing Creativity

“Creative work doesn’t start without stillness.”

Painter Rebecca Alzofon thinks “sitting still and letting ideas pass through you” is a necessary part of the creative process.

But it may take some fortitude and discipline to stop ‘doing’ all the time.

“A lot of people panic at first,” she says. “If they’re not used to this, they find themselves just sitting and not doing anything, and they think they’re wasting their time, and make themselves get up and do something while they’re waiting for inspiration.

“But you have to hold still, and be peaceful.”

She thinks some activity may still be alright: “You might be able to look through a book, or look at pictures, or just scratch on paper.”

She notes this has probably caused a lot of people to stop the effort to paint, because they believe you need to be physically active and productive to “prove” you are creative.

“They think if you’re not doing that, you’re failing, and you don’t have it in you.”

Alzofon says part of her struggle as a professional artist is staying on track.

“People see my work and I get various reactions, all of them positive, but they would distract me if I went after them. So I have to keep a cap on that, and it’s painful to turn so many people away.”

She has also taught adult art classes and tutored private students, in addition to creating her own paintings.

The restrictions of labels

Alzofon agrees that the label “artist” commands more respect and higher prices than “woman artist” and says friends of hers regularly talk about the issue.

“The problem is,” she says, “making it in the art world is so difficult for anyone, it starts to get pretty foggy about what is causing the problem.

“But I never did promote myself as a ‘woman artist’ and never thought of myself that way. It’s been disturbing to hear people qualify any artist as a ‘woman artist’ if they’re female, and otherwise they’re simply ‘an artist.’”

Referring to the issue of feeling “entitled” to work as an artist, Alzofon notes, “I don’t put myself in situations where others expect me to place anything other than my painting at the highest priority.

“Because of my aversion to social expectations, this might make me appear eccentric to many people, and I miss out on enjoying the company of more kinds of people, but this is what I do.”

She agrees living as an artist can get hard.

“There are times when I say, I hate my life and wish I could escape,” she admits. “And then I think, the only way to escape is to get better at what I do, and do it harder. Then I will protect myself from these disappointments, and I’m back at work.”

While painting, she finds herself often in a meditative state, and says, “problems go away if I just start painting. Nobody is going to stop me from working.

By Douglas Eby


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