12 May 2013

"The Creative Habit" read along - Chapter 4

If you would like to join the closed Facebook group dedicated to this read along to discuss the book in more detail, please send an email to Lynn at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with your email address.
This is the third installment of the read along for "The Creative Habit" by Twlya Tharp.
Chapter 1 and 2 of the read along can be found in this post.
Chapter 3 of the read along can be found in this post.

Chapter 4 - Harness Your Memory

This is not my first spin through The Creative Habit. In the past, for whatever reason, I've not really found this chapter that interesting. I decided though, that maybe I wasn't giving it it's fair due and I listened to the audio version of it a couple of times this week.

Tharp talks about how we use our memory to not only influence the choices we make in our artwork but also to execute the actual act of creating.
I found this passage from the chapter especially interesting, she says: "If there's a lesson here it's : get busy copying. That's not a popular notion today, not when we are all instructed to find our own way, admonished to be original and find our own voice at all costs! But it's sound advice. Traveling the paths of greatness, even is someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

I spent some time thinking about this because having my own voice in my work has been a high priority to me. I've even gone so far as to limit the number of classes I've taken in order to avoid becoming a clone. Has it worked? I'm not sure but I do know one thing, I'm at a place in which I feel as if I've got a strong independent voice and now I can continue to build on it.

I think the key is to copy to learn. It's the beginning, not the end. It's a means to start. Once you've acquired the technical skills, make it your own. That's sound advice, it makes a lot of sense.

I also find the idea of our personal memories driving the choices we make in our art. I'm a child of the seventies and I spent my kindegarten afternoons sitting on a burnt orange sofa in a small sunroom watching Mr. Rogers. The room was decorated in macrame and earth tones and had a very safe feeling. 

These colors show up in my work a lot. I strongly believe that they struck a chord with me when I was little and have stuck with me for various reasons. 

I've come to realize now that Tharp is 100% spot on - memory plays a huge role in the art that we create. Whether it's the memory of a skill we learned from someone else or the memory of a color we liked when we were a kid - it's all mixed into our voices as artists.

Do you find this to be true? Do you find that you are influenced by your memories when you make art?

Next week we'll discuss Chapter 5 - Before You Can Think Out of the Box, You have to Start with a Box.  Happy reading! :)


Linda said...

The same passage you quoted jumped out for me as well.
I have studied a lot with Elizabeth Barton, fiber artist and she says that all the time! She encourages her students to continually look at the masters etc and to find what you like and try and copy it to make it your own.
At first I thought it wasn't right but she and now Twyla proved me wrong. I have spent many hours looking at my favorite artists past and present especially when I have a dry spell. It has helped me not only find my voice but also to give me just enough inspiration to jump start me again.
I also agree that memory plays a big part in how I execute my art.
I'm really enjoying this read along.
I'm glad I finally caught up.

Beverley Baird said...

Just got my book today so will be playing catch=up this week Have read 2 chapters already today and am so enjoying it.

Judith said...

I have not read chapter 4 yet, but I do agree in my memory when I see something I picture what I want to put down on paper and give it a go. It does not always go well, but I give myself an effort at it as trying something new. I am no way an artist. Not like my grandchildren, this weekend we did arts and crafts (as we call it) I do see them as young artist come naturally. I tried a face profile, so did they and then they showed me another way to draw a face profile. I loved learning from them. Then I forget what I was trying to put on paper after all the fun. Funny to me...Judith, Texas