Group Discussion: What Makes You Continue To Create? II

More interesting insight from creative people (italics), with my responses, on what makes them continue to create. This is a continuation of excerpts from a discussion I began on LinkedIn in the group, True Artist: Living The Art (edited for clarity). Part 2 of 3.


“What makes you, the artist, continue to create? What end result is so satisfying that it draws you in continuously? Are results where the momentum comes from anyway?”


“I always got pulled along in someone else’s flow ‘getting on with real life’ up until about 6 years ago, fitting creativeness in the small crevices in time until I finally cracked. Now I carry on creating because it is the only thing that keeps me spiritually happy. I started out hoping to fill a void of finances by creating art to sell – but at the heart of my journey seems to be a need for complete creative freedom. Now I live as simply as possible so I can just create what I feel is important. If no one gets it… I don’t really care. I’m in no rush…” D.C.

“Debra, your “spiritually happy”, I wonder if that is akin to Andrea H.’s sane soul; I’m saying I wonder if there is something in all of us, of a spiritual nature, that is satisfied only through this art. I can’t imagine anything else to replace it.

Commercialism has raised it’s ugly head again–I like that you’re in no rush–commercialism (and I’m not against capitalism) can put one’s feet to the fire; this can be good in a way, especially if one has a tendency to be lazy, but really has nothing to do with “Art” in the spiritual sense. It has on more than one occasion caused me to produce less than desirable results.

‘Complete creative freedom’ means to me being completely honest and unashamed–that’s a very tall order indeed–I think it is more myself than anything that would cause me to fall short of that goal. Makes me think, I can paint anything I want, at any time, but do I? Is it commercialism or society in general–the former being a means to an end, whereas the latter I think is the real culprit to my constraints. And then, is it me or society that constrains my creativity. I myself allow these chains to hold me.

But I do feel I am much freeer than I used to be–I think that is part of the process also–finding yourself, your voice–it’s gradual. Are they mutually exclusive–the one who can satisfy someone else and the one who MUST satisfy himself? The road to spiritual happiness I guess is to find yourself first (whatever form that takes) and THEN find a market, not the other way round; this would be the ideal of course; how much I can conform to this ideal is the question.”

“Hi MT McClanahan – *chuckling* Yeah… gradual is the word! It’s so funny how I used to want everything NOW, NOW, NOW! I’m sure there was a purpose for that energy, but I am happily being ‘quiet’ and retreating. It’s true about the ‘sane soul’ feeling. Yeah… I know that one! I also know I’m nowhere near my potential as a human being or artist yet, but I’m happy to know that’s my journey’s focal point now. Not the security of money, or relationships – though strangely things seem to be coming good the moment I decided to find my truth and stand on it. Life is wonderful, non? I think it is more myself than anything, that would cause me to fall short of that goal”… yes, we do get in the way of ourselves don’t we. It’s a battle, but onwards and upwards! ;0)” D.C.

“How wonderful to know that we all have the same problems/battles/insecurities no matter where we are in this world!!” M.G.

“I sculpt in clay and if I am away from sculpting too long, it’s hard for me to explain except I get very down. Sculpting has been my well being for many years.” E.R.

“No need to explain Eloise… clay is a deeply satisfying material to work with – I’ve just been moulding some in my palms. The act of coaxing shapes with your hands is very absorbing on many levels. It’s quite primal ;0)” D.C.

“Thanks Debra for putting the need to sculpt in a better way. In the class I teach, I tell my students that clay is addictive. And so it is. Of course I also explain that not everyone likes clay, Of course I don’t understand why, but there are many things I don’t understand. I started my class nine years ago and I still have students coming since I started teaching. One girl wears rubber gloves and I thought she wouldn’t last long. She does some pretty remarkable pieces wearing those gloves. What fun!!!!” E.R.

“I am also a teacher in painting , and try to give my students every week some special words. For this week it was, don’t try to do things perfect. Nothing is perfect and meaby that’s better. Be trying perfect makes you do nothing. For a lot off the students it gives space to work.” W.K.

“Wilma, you are discouraging your pupils and addressing them towards mediocrity. Humans always tend to perfection even if it is not reachable, they get better simply during their endeavor. Think how well that concept was expressed by Michelangelo in the scene of God creating man, their index fingers so close that almost touch (frescoes of the Sistine chapel in Rome).” A.S.

“Wilma, I agree with Andrea, I strive for perfection, that’s my perfection no one else’s, I’m nowhere near it but I keep trying. At the same time I dread the possibility of getting there because once you’ve achieved perfection – what’s left?” C.M.

Green Boat And Sea (detail) by MTMcClanahan

Green Boat And Sea (detail) by MTMcClanahan

“Andrea, the Michelangelo analogy is interesting–I never thought about that image like that–Adam is indeed reaching also, but, I too have instructed students similarly as Wilma, when they are afraid to go further because of fear of ruining what they have to that point.

I go even further than Wilma and say, ‘try and paint the worst painting you can’ (I get this from Victor Frankyl–that “fear is mother of the event” and so he trys to take the fear of failure away).
I agree that we know we won’t be perfect; the real fear I think is that we won’t be “good enough”, for ourselves or for others.

I see your point but, taken in the context of a class, where there is no competition except with ones own psyche, it may be a viable teaching method–to get one beyond their fears.”

“Hmmm, I often wonder about ‘perfection’… what IS it? Can you define what it is that makes something perfect for you? For me, perfection is achieved with a balance of ugliness and beauty, for example – technical mastery and an ‘undoing’ of it to something wilder maybe. That place where order and chaos meet. So perhaps, for me, I can see where Wilma might be coming from ;0)” D.C.

“I don’t know what perfection is! It’s like having a goal you can’t see or being on a journey when you don’t know exactly where you’re going or when you will arrive but just hoping you’ve packed enough underwear 🙂 I’m hoping one day I will finish a painting, step away, say ‘wow did I just do that’ and then I will probably lay down my brush, the ‘need’ inside me satisfied probably replaced with a fear that I will never be able to do it again. I think that’s why as much as I strive to get there, I also dread the day I may arrive.” C.M.

“I like this…’A principle is the expression of perfection, and as imperfect beings like us cannot practise perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.’ Mahatma Gandhi” I.M.

“Carol, are you kidding? Your hypothesis would be blissful for me, if I could reach it once, then I would repeat it. Sometimes I have been very close to what I consider perfection, or more modestly I should say satisaction. I have watched my work and felt very good about it. I have had the strange sensation that I didn’t make it, a misterious driving force beyond my will and capabilities.” A.S.

“Sometimes whatever is being created has to be ‘good enough’. I tell myself this. Although it appears as a cop out, it is because nothing comes out exactly as I planned or envisioned and if I try to make it that way I end up being stiff and rigid in the process, find completing it less fulfilling and usually deciding when I’m ‘done’ more difficult. I am unable to truly finish, in my mind, any piece of illustration, pen/ink, charcoal or pastel to its full extent because I end up overworking it attempting finalization or perfection. I think this is typical of a creative mind; you just have to know when to stop. Someone will love it whether you think it’s perfect or not. But…I make sure I get some satisfaction out of the end result although never fully satisfied. This is of course differs for everyone. I think Wilma is on the right track with what she’s doing with her students; she’s making them think on their own, we just need to be sure they give it all they’ve got in heart and soul when creating and not necessary striving for some illusion of perfection. We all have something in common, I agree, and that’s’ seeking’ for something whether fulfillment or some spiritual satisfaction or connection within our selves and our surrounding worlds. This includes our heart, minds, souls and bodies. We know something is bigger than us and we want to tap into it, find it and hold onto it? I am often sad or down and always have been since I was a child; I understand this mentality thoroughly although difficult to explain as well because typically its nothing in particular. I find being creative as being in a moment when time stops, where I can remove myself from sadness, negativity, anxiety and ease the frustration I often find in my life and feel relief. Yes to keep my mind, heart and soul sane. xoxo” A.H.

“thanks for all comments, I like the discussion.” W.K.

“So I am coming in a little late so forgive me for my starting point in this thread. I would like to think that being creative is something I have always been. Sometimes being creative in other fields of work is not as appreciated or as pure as being an artist. I don’t look at each piece of art as a end result. It feels to me like just another part of the exploration. The progress that comes from practice is rewarding. I am motivated when I look at the progress that I have made and I am further motivated by the thoughts of what is to come or what could be. At the sametime there is only so much we can give and that time and effort is always drawing toward a culmination. I am motivated by so many things it really is hard to find a place to start. With that said I marvel at the gift that has been given to me and look to make the most of it.” M.M.

“Debra my analogy to what you’re saying is a painful tooth or gum that you just can’t stop licking–it hurts so good.”

“Andrea, I feel exactly the same. When I paint something which I think is good, I step away and think ‘Did I do that?’ Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve done it and very rarely can I remember what I did that time that made it different. That’s what I meant when I said if I paint something that I think is good, I have to do it again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. I think that’s also why I fear that perfect painting – how on earth am I ever going to be able to do it again, if I don’t know how I did it in the first place. Rationally I know that’s rubbish but who said painting was rational! MT – picking a scab :-)” C.M.

“The little dissatisfaction which every artist feels at the completion of a work forms the germ of a new work’ Berthold Auerbach quote” S.B.

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things,’ Edgar Degas. Nice work Susan – I particularly like ‘weed of a seed’ and ‘downtown Watergardens’. cheers, ian” I.M.

“thank u” S.B.

Part 1 / Part 3

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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