Creative Process

Written By Rassouli from The Book of Creativity

Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter create good things.
Edgar Degas

Creative energy flows as the spontaneous and intuitive prompting of the subconscious power to transcend the restrictions of rules, ideas, methods, and beliefs of the mind to bring new and fresh possibilities into expression. Creativity partners with imagination and experience to bring originality and uniqueness into what we do and how we live. It is the passion and divine spark that invites us to create.

Creativity is a #spiritual and #psychological journey rather than mastering the technique of one art form or another. To create is to experience things in new ways and to perceive them from a different perspective. Creativity is all about #spontaneous expression.

Many people think of creativity as something artistic, lofty, intelligent, unusual, and beyond understanding, which only artists, writers, and performers are gifted with it. But, in reality, #creativity is a perception available to everyone, which helps us to see a new solution to a problem and be #creative in responding to what happens to us in life. It is said that we are created in the image of our creator, which implies that every one of us has the potential to be creative.

The function and basic instinct of every organism is to reproduce itself, and to create what is needed to live. The very first thing we do as soon as we are born is to breathe, inhaling oxygen, and exhaling carbon dioxide. That breath helps in the growth and development of plant life. Trees create oxygen and provide shade, and some bear flowers and fruit. As human beings, we are gifted with the capability to create, even though we may be unaware of this in the beginning. We have the potential to become a part of the process that has created the earth, which is a self-sustaining and living organism.

The question that faces each one of us is to wonder what we can contribute to this process. The universe reflects the answer to this question wherever we look. We gaze at what has formed around us, and sense that we also need to reflect some #expression of ourselves. We live and experience who we are as we grow and evolve, and we share that on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. We discover that our bodies, hearts, minds, souls, and spirits carry secrets and hidden messages about who we are.

The wellspring of creativity is a source which exists deep within everyone. The act of creation unleashes a creative energy that is capable to set everything in motion. We learn to tap into this source. There is a fluctuating wave of expanding and contracting that is continually making and eliminating to achieve a balance on Earth. There is a cosmic rhythm that constantly makes room for something new to happen, to be born, to manifest, or to come into form. We need to become sensitive to these cycles and align with the energy to be able to share in the creative process.

We seek to discover ways to remain open to the flow of this energy, and we surrender to its movement throughout the universe. When we trust this process and stay open to it, the creative energy does the work it was designed to do. That same potential exists within all life forms here on earth. Sometimes we become afraid of what we don’t understand, and we close down and block the power from working in many ways that we don’t even realize. Our perception varies according to where we live, what we believe, what our traditions are, and what our cultural values might be.

#Mystics, who live and experience the #mystery of life, believe that we have been separated from the original source from which all life has developed. Some set out on a pilgrimage or a quest to connect with the creator of all life and to awaken the cellular memory of the beginning of creation. This source is a living energy that has been set in motion. What activated the first heart to begin to beat? Was there a time of nothingness before life began? We live in the mystery of these questions.

To realize our #freedom to #create, we each have obstacles to overcome. Some of us have been raised to be receptive to mystery and are comfortable with not truly knowing the answers to the deeper questions. Others immediately become drawn to owning and having and living as consumers. The channels of communication and perception are clogged with too many thoughts and possessions, just like our arteries become clogged with foods too rich for our digestive systems. Some people are considered #geniuses and child prodigies, and they can create through a clear channel in astounding ways. They are naturally open, because they don’t know any other way to be. We could take a lesson from the way they adapt to the physical world from within.

I recall a story that my grandmother used to tell me many nights to put me to sleep. It was the story of three #princes whose father, the #king, had told them that inside a certain well there was a ring, and whoever found it would be his heir to the #crown. The first child, the oldest, was lowered into the well. Half way through the well, he screamed to be pulled up, for a fire inside the well was burning him. So they pulled him up. The second son, who had witnessed the experience of his brother, told them not to pull him up until he would shake the rope. As he was lowered into the well, he could feel the fire and tried to bear the heat. Finally, when it became #unbearable, he pulled on the rope and they quickly pulled him up.

The third son, who had seen what happened to the other two, instructed that if he shakes the rope, or screams to be pulled up, they should cut the rope and release him. He was lowered in the well and felt the fire like the other two brothers. As he grew closer to the unbearable heat of the fire, he screamed to be pulled out, which was the signal to cut the rope. As his connection with the outside was severed, he went straight through the fire in a moment and landed in a #magnificentgarden that he could not have imagined even in a dream. At that point, he had no need or desire to return.

This story has always been a metaphor of creative power for me. As we take steps to move away from what it is that we have taken as a standard in our life, we face new possibilities. In order to find the way, we need to face whatever opposes us. It is a painful process, for we have traditionally accepted that our identity is who we appear to be on the outside.

As an artist, my life is all about creating. I love to create, and I have no resistance to surrendering to the creative process that guides my expression. I paint, but I am not in the business of making paintings to sell. I paint because I love to engage with the medium to express what is flowing through my heart and #soul. I am energized by what I do, and I have great fun doing it. I have a kind of relationship with the canvas, and my paints and brushes and my hands and fingers become instruments expressing my love for creating beauty and causing my heart to overflow with Joy!

To be #creative is not simply learning to do something in a certain way that would meet the expectation of other people. It is about discovering the certain power inside of us that makes us unique. It is to utilize the great variation in creation as a guide for how we express who we are. The variety is the thrill of it all leaving us energized and feeling exalted by being a part of such an amazing process. It utilizes our senses, engages our minds, opens the heart and gently awakens us.

The secret of creating is that the source of creativity is contained in mystery that cannot be explained. The secrets are sheltered in the unknown aspects of who we are. We journey into the mystery to allow the creativity that has been infused and embedded within us to express all the hidden longings. We allow it to take place, to create that #eternal event that changes us. Our #challenge is to allow the expression of spirit to manifest, to let it move us beyond the fear of the unknown. We have no idea what anyone else’s expression is meant to be, or wants to be, until it manifests and appears coming through them.

Sometimes during my creativity sessions, I ask participants to paint on a canvas with their eyes closed. The instruction is that if they open their eyes to see the painting, they shall not go back to work on it any more. When they paint with closed eyes, they do not see anything to compare with what they had in mind. They follow their #intuition and not their rationality to paint. As they are painting, they perceive a perfect image in their mind, but what they see with open eyes is different from what they pictured. This practice is very helpful in not judging what they are creating while they are doing it.

The #creativeprocess allows for infinite creations as forming and reifying through the intensity of longing. Business minded people create new and inventive ways to develop their businesses. A doctor creates new ways of discovering the possible causes of a patient’s symptoms. A teacher creates new ways of helping students to open to learning. Since life is an ongoing process of transformation, we do not discover everything at once, but we continue uncovering different aspects of our selves interacting with our existence as we move along the way.

The #creativepower is like the sun that shines to reach for the heart of all that is #expanding and ready to burst open to sprout or #blossom. The creative response to life is like the cloud that rains and softens the seed in order to produce and nurture plants, flowers, leaves, and all that grows upon the earth, including us. The process of creativity naturally seeks to find ways to develop a balance between the act of clearing the passage and finding a great variety of ways to manifest the energy that is flowing through us into something amazingly new. It softens our seeing and perceiving to see it #compassionately. Small and #vulnerable versions of life that need our care awaken the desire to love and nurture new little plants, or a tiny kitten, or the #miracle and innocence of a new baby.

Creating is the transformational expression that humanizes us. There is no final goal to reach, although there are many helpful points to consider and instincts to follow along the way. This has to do with discovering the clues that will guide each person toward a possible direction that helps them to express what is in their heart, which is amazingly varied within each individual life. The #greatestjoy that one experiences along this path in the creative process has to do with the breakthroughs that appear suddenly and spontaneously!

The path of the creative flow needs to remain free from contamination to prepare the way for love to express, in much the way water finds the most natural path to flow, or light slips through the openings that #welcome it. Love is certainly the most powerful agent to transform us to help make the flow happen within us and through us by inviting us to feel and respond to the desire. When we invite, we draw out the response, and when someone sees that excitement in us and shares in what we create, it #stimulates us to become more than before. Joy breaks us open and expands us and playfulness and a lightness of being surrounds us with an energy that frees us to create and to love without the obstacles of #self-doubt and fear.

Creating is not only about expressing or manifesting something; it also includes the way in which we experience what happens to us and how we respond to it. When we bring something into focus, we use our imagination, and we become inspired; we are empowered by our creative energy. If we do not implement or express the ideas, images, or vision presented to us, and let them slip away or become blocked in some way, we may still be imaginative, but we cease to be creative.

What makes people think artists are more creative than others has to do with the skill and #technique artists use to #manifest and express their #creations, rather than a special gift of talent. Yet, combining technical abilities and skills with creative energy can be achieved in almost any endeavor, by anyone, whether it is for business or pleasure when the circumstances are right. We need to find the freedom to be fully aware of this choice and possibility that awaits us!

Two major #powers that make us create are love and the #commitment to flow with it. The more joy we get from the process of developing creativity, the more creative the result will become. Each time that we achieve better results, it invariably stimulates further ideas. In its wholeness, the creative process involves discovering ways to make it more fun while doing whatever we are doing at the time. Even if what we are doing is already fun, doing it in a new and different way can make it even more enjoyable.

My very first art teacher was an artist who painted miniature paintings. He taught me a certain way to see colors in patches without the limitation of forms. One of the techniques I learned from him was to stand with my feet wide apart, bending over and look through the opening between my legs to see what was behind me upside down. I was to paint what I saw from that position.

Through this exercise, I learned to look at things from a different perspective, from various new angles, and from all different directions. Because my mind was not fully formed in discerning and seeing patterns of #Nature in only one absolute way, I began to observe my environment as patches and areas of colors, rather than just forms or recognizable shapes. The process of painting became much more fun, for I was painting things upside down and not trying to simply copy forms or shapes in a recognizable way. It was very amusing for me to see images created on paper that did not look at all like what I would see right side up. That process was particularly helpful in developing my imagination.

Creativity often involves #breakingrules and moving beyond other people’s beliefs and ideas as well as our own. It also challenges and confronts the expectations of others, because it moves us out of our #comfortzones. We need to be open to possible disappointment in order not to betray the truth of what is trying to #express itself through us. Risk incites growth. We are like a plant that needs to push through the darkness of the soil to feel the sun. If we adhere to already set standards and remain within the limitations imposed on us by others, we are not truly sharing in the creative process. We are conforming and being obedient to the expectations of someone else’s ideas of what is right for us. We try to please our captor instead of responding to the longing for life flowing through our hearts.

The most important thing about the #creativeprocess is to believe that we are doing a great work while doing it. If we don’t think it is very good, there is no way in the world that we would truly want to continue and finish it. What is interesting is that once our artwork is done, we may realize that it is not the greatest work in the world, but we accept it as just another one of our creations.

Creativity demands the freedom and the right to make mistakes, for it involves trying something new that is outside the boundary of normal standards and may never been tried before. Our bumps and bruises and disappointments help to prepare and encourage us to reach beyond the safety zones.

To prepare for the journey of creativity, I usually spend time arranging and rearranging my paint jars, my brushes and overall workspace until I have the urge to begin playing with color on the canvas. The secret to constantly creating is to be willing to change, and to be able to change.

As we grow older, we become more #nostalgic, which tends to make us focus more on the past and we are not as confident that we have a present life that is worth reflecting. Every time images show up on my canvas easily, I become suspicious because that usually means they are reflecting something I have already painted. When images are unsettling, and I am excited about what I’m doing, that means it’s going to be an interesting artwork. When a new idea comes through, hope makes the heart swoon and the mind expand around it. Daydreaming helps tremendously to stimulate new possibilities as we work. Everyone is an artist, but there is a difference between artists who create and artists who only carry new ideas around in their thoughts.

I often bounce back and forth between the excitement of creating something new and the suspicion that perhaps my #instincts are wrong and I am headed in the wrong direction. This continues until I suddenly feel more clarity in my imagination as if the sky has opened and I can hear the music of angels. Of course there are other times when a work is uninspired and remains unfinished.

Every time I hear someone telling me they have writer's block, I suggest that they just paint or write for the purpose of throwing it in the wastebasket. I tell them not to be concerned if it does not look good to them, and not to be concerned about ruining it. Creating art takes effort which needs a fully developed discipline and strong faith. All #artworks begin to come to life when you are creating. If you get out of the way and don’t try to control what happens, the energy will guide you in making the next move. American composer Aaron Copland said he didn't finish compositions as much as he abandoned them. He got out of the way to allow the #music to guide the process.

As living organisms, we are deeply integrated and connected with creation itself. When we create, we explore both the known and the unknown possibilities of forming a spiritual connection between our own personal experience and our acquired knowledge. This experience orients us to the folding and unfolding and the unveiling of the beauty of an expanding life. It becomes like the rhythm of a dancing heartbeat or like the deepening colors of the rising and setting of the sun. The universe continues to reveal its mystery before us as we live and experience each day. The ocean expresses a rhythmic movement in the waves as they touch the shore and circle back into the ocean again. As we surrender, we become aligned with the energy of creation in a very intimate way, and we become aware of the flow of #creative energy that seems to be painting the universe with the colors of love.

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