Last week I flew to Idaho to deliver a painting. I don’t always deliver in person, but in this case I’m glad I did, because it’s amazing how just getting away can do wonders for your creativity. In my article on living creatively every day I mentioned quite a few ways to stay creative, but I missed this one.
Take a vacation.
Although it shouldn’t be the case, making art can become just as ordinary as any other job when we let it. We can get used to painting, drawing, and creating and just going through the motions—and that’s a dangerous place for artists to be.
When I flew out of the airport in Portland it was like I left behind a rut I didn’t know I’d been in. All the stress of finishing my latest project, of wrapping things up so that I could leave for just a few days. . . I felt like I was rising past all of that as my plane nosed its way between the clouds.
And then I was above them.
Layers of white were drifting right below me while farther away it piled up like lumpy islands of cotton in the sky. The simple reversal of perspective was fantastic—looking down, not up—and I realized both metaphorically and literally that being above the clouds is one of my favorite things in the world.
While floating there in the brilliant sunlight, I thought about the state of art in general and wondered why so much art is now philosophically, socially, or politically motivated.
In that moment of clarity it seemed like just a waste, with so much beauty in the world still waiting to be seen and recognized.
I thought about the claim that nothing new can be created, and that all art is simply a copy of that which has already been made.
But flying through the air I decided it couldn’t be true, because of all the opportunities we have today that artists in the past didn’t.
And then I thought about how I could replicate my experience above the clouds, for others to see and feel.
I didn’t come to a conclusion during that short flight. But I wrote the idea down, and perhaps someday I will.
You see, vacations for artists are important not only for our health, but also for our livelihood. I know from experience that I need freedom to be able to really think and dream, and I’m sure that most artists are the same way.
We see the world differently, or at least in our best moments we do, so it’s important to realize when you’ve become stressed or burnt out from art. When that happens, take a vacation for the weekend or get away for an afternoon.
And let your mind rise above the clouds.
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