creativity

Creativity: How Your Hands and Mind can Paint Your Heart

Enjoy this fabulous guest post by Andrew Martin!

“Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul – and you answer.”

~ Terri Guillemets

This pearl from quotation anthologist Terri Guillemets speaks to me very deeply, and it reflects what I believe to be the most important element of artistic creativity. In its truest form, art is the creation of something that is genuine and from your heart.

For some people, tapping into their heart is easy and natural. For others, it can inspire fear. But this is crucial to reaching your creative potential.

A Piece of Your Heart and Soul on a Platter

My primary creative mediums are poetry and songwriting. I often tell people that the songs and poems I create are “pieces of my heart and soul on a platter for others to pick at.” When you are creating, no matter what the form of expression, you are at your most vulnerable. You are sharing a portion of yourself with others, and herein lies the beauty of art.

This can be a very scary idea. While some people are likely to deeply appreciate what you create, there may be others who do not connect with the nugget of your heart laid bare on the platter. And for many, a fear of rejection can be so paralyzing that it prevents the creative process from ever getting started.

But this should not deter you from creating. When you are truly engaging in the creative process, you are able to enter a place where everything else is cleared from your mind and you are living in the moment. The end product is a snapshot of your heart and soul from that specific point in time.

When I write music, poetry, and lyrics, I do it for myself first and foremost. While I always hope that others respond favorably to my work, that is not my primary motivation for creating. In order for my art to be genuine, it has to reflect an expression of myself, not my notion of what others would want to read or hear. Hopefully, others can detect that there is sincerity in my art and gain a small window into my heart and soul. If I accomplish this, then I am happy – regardless of whether others like what they see.

Don’t Be Afraid of What’s in Your Heart

So how do you create something that is genuine, sincere, and a reflection of your heart and soul? First, you must be willing to let go of the fear of what you will find inside your heart. Anything and everything must be fair game, even the darkness inside.

Personally, I find that the darker sides of life make for the most visceral, compelling art. The majority of my songs and poetry attempt to shine some light on the darkness. Many of my favorite pieces touch on some of my most vulnerable moments – my severe depression during college, getting my heart crushed, coming to grips with my sense of inadequacy when failing to conquer my fears and summit a mountain, and my struggles in dealing with an alcoholic roommate/band mate. In a sense, the creative process is how I work through these experiences. And to be honest, it’s a lot less expensive than therapy.

I’m not saying you need to focus on the darkness, but you absolutely can’t be afraid of it. If in the process of creating you find that the darkness tends to surface, then go with it. If you prefer to focus on the brighter moments of your experiences, that’s fine too. As long as your creative expression is a genuine reflection of your heart, it really doesn’t matter what it is about.

I typically find that leaning on personal experiences is the best way to find inspiration, particularly when you are first getting started in your creative endeavors. After all, our understanding of the world around us is framed by our personal experiences.

This can extend to just about any creative form. Several years ago, my girlfriend discovered her passion for sewing and crafting. She is very talented and makes some spectacular outfits. Most of them reflect her vibrant, outgoing personality. She uses flashy materials and bright colors to craft outfits that provide a window into the type of person she is. They are most certainly a piece of her heart and soul.

Finding the Right “Tool” for Your Creativity

Once you have delved into your heart and found inspiration (from your own personal experience or any other source), you need to determine the medium that speaks to you. For me, it is writing and music. For my girlfriend, it is sewing and crocheting. Just about anything can be the “canvas” on which you “paint” a piece of your heart and soul.

I don’t know that there is any tried-and-true advice regarding how to discover what form of expression speaks to you. Much of it has to do with the way your brain processes information and the way your hands can manifest the ideas and emotions of your heart and mind. I lack the dexterity and fine motor skills to create the outfits, hats, and other accessories my girlfriend can make. But my mind hears melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas all the time which my fingers can translate to music on the piano.

The best way to go about the process of finding your medium is to just experiment with different creative outlets until you discover the one that truly speaks to you. You can experiment on your own, take classes, or learn from friends whose creative process you admire. Once you find your muse and your mode, it won’t be long before you are laying your heart and soul on a platter for others to pick at.

Bio: Andrew Martin is a professional writer with over five years of experience writing copy in a variety of fields, including spirituality (with Spiritual Cinema Circle) law, and the music recording industry. He is also a regular contributor to the Marquee Magazine, an online and print publication covering music in the Boulder and Denver area. You can learn more about his services by contacting bouldercopywriter@gmail.com.