Creative Block?

I’ve had an interesting message from a fellow artist on Facebook. She asked how I could possibly be creative ‘with so much hate in my heart?’ This was in response to my comment regarding the American election that I posted on my Facebook page with somewhat shaky fingers after hearing the results. It ran as follows:

‘So it’s a new day for America – but remember that as artists, we take materials and weave them into objects powerful enough to distract, educate, enlighten, move, engage and delight. Looks like we’ve all got our work cut out for us today.’

Not really a ‘hate’ post and one I gave much thought to before writing. Being a Brit, it’s not up to me to be personal about the way people voted and I have no say in the result. However, I do reserve the right to have an interest. After all, you can’t have your Oreo and eat it; either America is a world power and we, the world, are rightly invested, or it isn’t and we aren’t. My post was more aimed at highlighting the unique and powerful skills all creative people can bring to bear at a time of upheaval, whichever side you happen to support.

I guess artists are like politicians in our need to grow a thicker skin than most. Sit at any craft fair or open studio and you’ll need to choose how you deal with critics. I think there are two sorts of criticism: the ‘I don’t like that because I don’t like it’ school and the thoughtful ‘that doesn’t work for me because…’ school. The first falls into the kind of circular argument favoured by small children and can be dismissed with the briskness of Mary Poppins. The second kind is much more uncomfortable, but I try to welcome it because it makes me think.

So back to the hate lady. I was pretty sure her comment fell into the first category. But then I got to thinking that maybe she’s actually stumbled into camp two and should be welcomed for reminding me of a couple of things.

She’s the first to accuse me of something nasty and I spend a lot of time on social media, in groups or in the virtual open studio of my page. Isn’t it interesting that, contrary to all the vile bullying and hatred that social media can house, my small corner, populated as it is by artists, creatives and makers, is universally friendly and supportive? If I check out my fellows, they are of all nations, sexes, ages and, I am guessing, religions, sexuality and colour. Yet we all offer help, enthusiasm and encouragement to each other all day, every day. So what I wrote wasn’t in hate, it was in faith of creative people and to point out how powerful we can all be if we try.

Then again, maybe there was a bit of hate? I don’t go in for hating people; it’s far too energetic, but I’ll freely admit that I hate the circumstances and words that lead to unkindness, dismissal or attack of those who, though they are pretty much exactly the same as us, somehow become defined as ‘other’. That could be said of colour, sex, religion or political group, take your pick. Maybe it’s because of that hate that I think we artists should be at our most creative just now? As my last blog mentioned, art can, in so many small ways, make a difference.

So lady out there, I’m not concerned about my creativity. Last time I checked there were still far too few hours in the day to house it, but I’m grateful you gave me cause to remember how much good there is to be found in my fellow artists and creatives and why we should be sharing it freely right now.

Author: Laura

Laura Boswell is a printmaker working exclusively with linocut and traditional Japanese woodblock printing. She has a degree in Art History/Visual Art from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and has been elected to the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers.

11 thoughts on “Creative Block?”

  1. Laura
    I read your first post with renewed enthusiasm as I was about to abandon a piece I was working on.
    It was your comment that made me think out the situation more carefully and realise that at this particular time it was even more important to continue with the project.

    So thank you and as you say the creativity is always there but sometimes it’s more challenging than others

  2. Hatred doesn’t reside in the heart but in the mind – sometimes informed by direct experience but often not. Thankfully creativity is a rewarding, kindly process and very much resides within the heart I think.

  3. I love the last two paragraphs! Love!

    As an American, I read your post the other day and did not see any “hate” or anger, just sadness and disappointment, something I have seen a lot of. I have also seen hate posts since the election, from both sides, and it is ugly. The election did not end any of the ugliness as far as I can see.

    I enjoy your blog, and your work, and found solace in looking at both earlier this week when I was feeling my heart rate and blood pressure rise.

    Thank you for encouraging creativity, which is always, always positive. And taking joy in the creative process is something many of us can and should do right now, even if it feels challenging. I know I will, and it will likely bring my blood pressure down.

  4. I’m a US citizen living abroad and I’m saddened and embarrassed by all aspects of the campaign, candidates, electorate and results. I’m white and safe…for now, but I worry about those others who will be uneasy and fearful, in a country that should be their home. Because I can, I went to my studio today and drew all day. Not with hate, but with sad resignation. I welcome your words, work and images, Laura–glad you aren’t cowed by current events and we do indeed have our work cut out for us.

  5. I’m with you Laura, as well. And never was a person that I know less filled with hate. I’m glad you were able to gain something positive from considering the remark, even though it must have been quite hurtful.

  6. I (a non artist who just really likes your work) actually noticed your post and thought it was well phrased, and fitted with something my wife (an art historian) had said earlier about Dada (I think? Don’t quote me!) and surrealists responding to a mad world in the 30s. It wasn’t hateful, in fact it was very gentle, for a moment I thought it was slightly supportive of Trump before reading properly. There is unfortunatly a group of people who don’t realise quite how scared a lot of people are by the result of their political choices. Whether right or wrong to vote for Trump I can’t properly comment being in the UK, there will be people who now use this to justify bullying and racism, just as many friends of ours have experienced racist comments and being told to go home since Brexit. A need to see those who disagree with something as having hate in their hearts seems to me far more in the first group of the “I don’t like that because I don’t like it” Keep your creativity and hope that you don’t get any backlash for this, which seems to me to be another balanced post.

  7. Hi Laura.
    Living in Australia the American Presidential campaign was in the news quite a bit over here, however I felt quite removed from it all. I have my opinions about the characters involved, and that is the key word, opinion. You gave your opinion but from my understanding of what you wrote, hatred wasn’t in the equation. The word that came to mind immediately, was intolerance. And I don’t mean from you. More and more these days, I feel there is an incredible lack of tolerance from those who cannot abide other people’s opinions, when that opinion differs from their own. How anyone could read hatred in your opinion, I don’t understand. Continue with your creativity. I enjoy viewing your work and reading your posts.

  8. Laura,
    I’m an American who read your post on FB and read only a kindred understanding coming from you. My community is grieving, and I appreciate the reminder that art can be a powerful form of expression in such a time.
    This has been a nasty, divisive time, and emotions are running high. Please ignore the hatemongers – and thank you for being here!

  9. Hi Laura,
    I love your work and was following links to learn more when I read about your commenter. I’m an American and you will find many, many people online reacting that way to even the slightest disagreement with them. I think of it as projection–she is telling you in a passive aggressive way that she hates you for your views. Our new “president” models that behavior constantly. Take it as a complement and assurance that you are on the right side of history!

  10. I found your response to the woman’s fear filled comments to be both intelligent and profoundly creative in your holding of her statement up to the light… Keep on attracting the light and enjoying your particular ripples of the net. The spread of the darkness that is filling so many people’s minds and actions at the moment, in all parts of the world is only going to be dispersed by letting the light flood in. Love your’s so full of light..

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