At the risk of once more dividing the world into two main kinds of people, there are two main kinds of people: those who amuse themselves, and those who require amusement from others. Artists seem to be pretty much of the former kind. Self-amusement prompts creativity.
Mornings are special times for the self-amusing. Curious as to what the day may bring, they often step directly into the amusement area–the studio. What I call “Curious Morning Syndrome” (CMS) is often the simple catalyst for productivity, invention, creativity and success. The blessing, of course, is not always evident to the young. Sleeping-in has ruined many an early career. And some folks must wait until middle or old age for CMS to kick in. Some think it’s a gene. It’s more likely a learned habit.
One way to activate CMS is to simply set yourself up to be curious about the outcome and potential of yesterday’s efforts. A good system is to leave something unfinished when you shut down the studio at night. Better still, leave several things unfinished. The easier, the more enjoyable the task you leave behind, the more the likelihood of an early morning kick-off. At the same time, challenges are often best attacked when you are well rested and fresh. It’s amazing what time and a good sleep can do for problematicals. The cold grey light of dawn automatically presents opportunities to the prepared worker. Happy outcomes are uncommonly common to the curious. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has been responsible for birthing a lot of lively art. “How is this going to turn out?” is an essential question that an artist asks. Curiosity tramples drudgery and fires up improvisation. Curiosity sets the hands and mind in motion.
Every day is a chance for rebirth. When you think of it, every day is a relentless carousel with a joyous new song and a new view. Curiosity allows your unique “owned processes” to draw you toward creative conclusions. Thus, the miracle of creativity is regularly reborn. It’s a blessing to see your world, your studio and your hands within it, first thing, like a child, with baby eyes. It’s also a blessing that pervasive private curiosity can be rebooted a thousand times in one beautiful turn of the carousel.
PS: “Be alone, that is the secret of invention. Be alone, that is when ideas are born.” (Nikola Tesla)
Esoterica: My observation has been that artists who are overly dependent on the inspiration and direction of others don’t thrive in the same way that the independent ones do. Artists need an inner life and a private curiosity. Furthermore, it looks to me like the independents are the most alive, the most experimental, and often the most productive. Some of them are quiet, but they are not bored, nor are they boring. In the words of journalist Ellen Parr: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
This letter was originally published as “Curious morning syndrome” on December 9, 2005.
oil painting, 11 x 14 inches
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