THOUGHTS ON CREATIVITY: SEEKING PLAYFULNESS NOT PERFECTIONISM

EXPECTATION IS THE THIEF OF JOY

For about ten years in my 20s I avoided drawing or painting because I always wanted the outcome to be perfect. The weight of my expectation was too heavy. It’s a sadness to me that I allowed fear of failure, fear of not being good enough to stop me even starting: that I allowed my high expectations to steal so much joy, so much experimentation, so much development.

Helen Wells Artist

NOTHING TO LOSE AND EVERYTHING TO GAIN

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Now that I’m in my 40s and working as a professional artist I want to share some wisdom with my younger self. I want to tell her that she has absolutely nothing to lose from starting and a whole wonderful world to gain.

DANCE WITH FEAR

I want her to know that the pain of not creating is so much more crippling than the pain of creating something she doesn’t like. That she needs to create despite the fear, that she must work with the fear and let it dance along beside her.

Helen Wells Artist

BE KIND TO YOUR CREATIVITY

I want to tell my younger self that mistakes are how you learn. That being kind and gentle with her self when she is creating helps her to develop and grow and be braver and bolder.

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PERFECTIONISM GETS YOU STUCK, PLAY GETS YOU UNSTUCK

I want her to know that pressured perfectionism gets her stuck and that half the fun is the journey to the end result not the end result itself. I want to tell her to be playful.

PLAY IS PART OF MY PROCESS

Play, experimentation and childlike curiosity is part of making things manifest, is part of creating art, an important part. So I thought I’d share some of the ways I play and incorporate it into my artistic practice.

LOOKING AND SEEKING

Helen Wells Artist

I frequently go wandering outside with my camera, looking for inspiration. I try and really look with fresh eyes and notice what makes me curious, what stands out. I look for patterns and shapes, colours and textures. I find that the more I actively seek on these meanders the more interesting things I find.

The shots in this blog post are from a wander in my local park just before sunset. It took me a little while to look up and see lots of striking silhouettes of trees and twigs, lines and patterns on the water, reflections and outlines.

USING PHOTOGRAPHS AS A SPRINGBOARD

I might then print out a few of the photographs and use then as a starting point, as a springboard, as reference material, as an entry point to something. As the start of something.

STARTING SMALL

Helen Wells Artist

I often like to cut up a large piece of thick heavy paper into many small pieces. I find that playing about on a small piece of paper is liberating, less daunting. I will paint and splash, daub or draw on more that one piece at a time. Just playing. Just experimenting. Just responding to what’s on the page. Just having fun.

I often might get out lots of different materials, watercolour, ink and experiment, see what works, what doesn’t. Because I might have a pile of 15 pieces of paper on the go at once, there is no preciousness, there is expansiveness and abundance.

These playful bursts often result in something interesting, a seed of an artwork, a happy accident, something that I will develop into a larger, more significant art work. I find this playful approach leads to a much better end result than trying to create something of significance from the get go, this exploration and experiment leads to discovery, that I can work through the mistakes to unearth something more valuable and beautiful.

Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist