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View Full Version : How Does Stress Affect Your Creativity?


IrishIsle
11-22-2002, 06:22 PM
How can stress affect your creativity? I am going through an extremely stressful period in my life, and I'm finding that it is getting in the way of my painting. I spent a week on a study for my painting and the results were consistently terrible. Then boom! yeseterday I wake up and go into my studio and I was able to paint in a way that amazed me. It still is lasting now, but those days were so unfulfilling and I didn't know how to cope with them and I would like to find a way to cope with them in the future...I cannot just quit my painting when I'm feeling down.

Any ways to cope?

TeAnne
11-22-2002, 06:53 PM
I think my creativity levels highten when I'm stressed or depressed. Right now I must be happy or something, cos my muse has gone on holidays! (In a terrible slump)

IrishIsle
11-22-2002, 08:00 PM
REally? They heighten? Mine do with certain kinds of stress..nothing makes me more motivated to do a good job than if I am doing a terrible job at painting lol...though this time it took me a week...and all during that week I actually didn't feel like painting.
Its the outside factors of life that really affect my work. Anything WITHIN creativity I am pretty much able to cope with. Things like family pressures, relationships, and also all those little things get awfully in the way.

BeyondTheNineSquares
11-22-2002, 09:48 PM
Wow! There are so many levels to this issue. Of course, there is good stress. This is the kind that gets the heart pumping. You really get things done. Generally this is when you are at your peak, and it is reflected in the quality of your work.

Then there's bad stress. This is the less healthy, depression/not coping well kind. Personally, I find that creativity is therapy when I am at this point. True, I waste materials because I "hate how that came out" and am best left alone at this point. People who try to be helpful really annoy me when I'm at this point.

Funny thing though. The more I persist at doing something creative, ANYTHING CREATIVE, the more involved I get with the art, and then I am devoting less energy on the "stress."

Sometimes we get so caught up in the "stress" that we add fuel to the fire, so to speak. You know, sometimes you and your boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. get into a rip roaring fight and at some point realize you don't even know what you're fighting about? It's kind of like that.

Basically stress and creativity are closely linked and mutually beneficial. Rechannel the energy and you will find your art soars to new heights.

Wingnut
11-25-2002, 11:10 AM
I'm like TeAnne, I get in an awful slump when I'm stressed :( but I've learned that if I worry about it, I just make it worse and it lasts longer. Instead I try to do other things besides paint/draw that can still be part of the creative process; shoot a roll of film, write down ideas for future paintings, or just simple stuff like drawing in sand.

I'm wondering how many others get in a slump or depressed after finishing a major painting? Every time I finish something I'm really proud of, I need about a month (sometimes more) to settle down and get back to any serious work. I can do little fast stuff (the SNDs are great for this) but the more I do, the longer it takes for me to focus again.
I'm worried because it seems to be taking longer and longer... :(

(currently reading The Artist's Way to see if that can help)

llis
11-25-2002, 05:53 PM
YES!!!!! Stress does do something to my creative nature. Sometimes this is a good thing. I just told a client that I would be finished with two pieces by Saturday... talking about stress!

I do think that if you are under an extream amount of life stress creating can be both good and bad. Sometimes stress creates depression and when I'm feeling down, I can't create... I can't do anything but crawl into a little ball and hope it goes away. :) Other times stress makes me create because it is the outlet to get rid of all that stress anyway. When I create, I don't think about anything else and that's a good thing. :)

teresasart
11-25-2002, 06:30 PM
I think I'd agree that it depends upon the kind of stress... right now, I have the "getting ready for a show" kind... woke up last night unable to sleep, 1:30 am... got up and worked till about 4, then went back to bed. Had a couple of new ideas for pieces in the process, so at least the brain that wouldn't let me sleep was doing something useful in the process.

I know what you mean about the stress from outside factors, though... I went through a really stressful time a few years back, and it really had an effect on me- my physical health, my general mood, and my work. It was instrumental in getting me to make some changes and start painting though, so some good came from it. I think when stress strikes, it's good to approach creating more as "play" and less as "work"... letting the process be the goal, and if something good comes from it, letting it happen. The Muse works in funny ways. Try to force her (him) ;) and I find it makes things worse, at least for me...

Koert
11-26-2002, 03:34 AM
when i'm stressed, i usually become a bit (or a seriously, depending on how stressed and for how long) depressed.
when i'm depressed my creativity (if i can call it that) "shifts". I can't paint or draw, but i tend to write, which i can't when i'm not feeling at least down

Winty
11-26-2002, 10:14 PM
Me too, for switching to another form of creativity. I have to write out stress in the form of poetry. Painting/drawing can't be done, but poems relating to the stress just write themselves.

To paint, I need to be in a relaxed contented state. Highly emotional states are expressed in my poems, if at all.

So, to sum up, my paintings and drawings express how I feel about the things I love, my poems express how I feel about where I am emotionally.

art-markets
11-30-2002, 09:39 PM
Stress probably affects each of us differently in our creativity. I started seriously painting again for therapy after losing my mother, and never stopped so stress was a help to my creativity at that point.
If the outside world is stressing me now, I sometimes doodle or sketch just to keep the juices flowing, resulting in a composition which inspires me back to the brushes and paint.

Marie

JohnnyRed
12-01-2002, 07:54 AM
When I get stressed, I find the best to get over it is to paint abstracts. The wilder the better! This also acts to get rid of a lot of pent up frustration that stress brings on. It acts as a form of safety valve.

Once that's out of the way, I feel a lot calmer, and can get back on track with 'pretty pictures'!

I've attached a very recent one that did a lot for me to get rid of a lot of aggression that was building up inside me.

I've entitled it "A Flash of Anger".

dd50
12-17-2002, 09:51 AM
Hi Johnny,

Same for me ..... as a matter of fact, I just created one recently when going thru a really rough time at home .... and it's very similliar in content (purpose) as yours. LOL!!

I've attached it ... and it sold on e-bay FAST!

Flames of Passion:

dd50
12-17-2002, 09:56 AM
Most definetaly stress from outside sources affect me negatively!

I'm living in an abusive marriage ..... and even though I started to paint at this time in my life ... it's also the roughest time to be painting ..... and stay creative!!!

I can only work on a painting every so often ... I find I start one, and leave it set for days before going back ... and I also have several going at once .... I feel I like that part .... keeps me changing ... but I don't have allot of energy ..... and motivation at this time.

Of course ..... ZERO encouragement or support from husband doesn't help, and besides here, I have no contact with anybody else. Luckily, I've finally decided to leave the marriage, and will be going in February, if all goes as planned .... and I really hope that helps my creativity.

It's funny though .... when I began painting .... they were very wild and abstract .... lots of red .... then they went to dark and dreary .... emotional .... now they're getting brighter and whimsical .... funky .... folk art outsider stuff ..... hmmmm I wonder what that all means?

Hugs,
Dee

hummingbird
12-17-2002, 10:06 AM
((((Dee))))) When I read your post I saw some very positive things. Give yourself alot of credit...if you can paint alittle through very difficult times, you can paint through anything. Any time you set that brush to canvas/paper you are making a very positive statement. You are triumphing over adversity. Each time you do it is another confirmation that you are moving ahead with your life. Congratulate yourself more instead of thinking about what isn't being done.

Stay with WC! --you need the support, heck we all do! This is a great place to be.

Your color choices in differant periods of this suggest you are really coming out of it don't you think? They are getting lighter and brighter. To me that would seem like things are turning around for you. More energy coming in. Excellant! Just remember to be kind to yourself.

BTW, I really*dig* outsider folk art--I think this sounds **wonderful!** Would love to see some sometime. I started out that way.


All the best,
Pat

hummingbird
12-17-2002, 10:19 AM
Originally posted by Winty
Me too, for switching to another form of creativity. I have to write out stress in the form of poetry. Painting/drawing can't be done, but poems relating to the stress just write themselves.

To paint, I need to be in a relaxed contented state. Highly emotional states are expressed in my poems, if at all.

So, to sum up, my paintings and drawings express how I feel about the things I love, my poems express how I feel about where I am emotionally.

Hi Winty! Every winter, I get into magnetic poetry and reading poetry. Not in the summer when everything is more active and busy, but in the winter...when its the dark half of the year and we turn inward...I pull out my magnetic poetry kits. It does do something tho...like you were saying about switching creative forms. I think it is a way to deal with stress. For me its alittle bit of depression in winter. And that helps. Then I can paint. I think your post was right on!

Pat

hummingbird
12-17-2002, 10:29 AM
Originally posted by Koert
when i'm stressed, i usually become a bit (or a seriously, depending on how stressed and for how long) depressed.
when i'm depressed my creativity (if i can call it that) "shifts". I can't paint or draw, but i tend to write, which i can't when i'm not feeling at least down

Hi Koert! Your post just reminded me of something. A famous author--Natalie Goldberg-- is known for her writing and teaches classes all over on writing. But she also enjoys painting for just herself. Little paintings that are memories of things for her. She wrote a book called "Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World." I have the book. What is really interesting about this book is that the times in Natalie's life when she wasn't painting, she couldn't write either. It seems to work in the reverse for artists too...writing can help art, can help one paint and visa-versa.

Here's a link to her book on Amazon.com if anyone wants to look:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553354892/qid=1040135193/sr=1-8/ref=sr_1_8/102-8163515-3687335?v=glance&s=books

Your post reminded me of this.

Pat

Winty
12-17-2002, 12:57 PM
Hummingbird:

I am not familiar with the term "magnetic" poetry., but it sounds attractive! ;)

This year, to deal with my depression, I have put full spectrum lights in my studio, over my flat file, which now supports my little indoor "garden". I plan to spend time reading, right next to the light, as well as "gardening"!

A little depressed can be expressed in poetry . . . but a lot depressed, and I shut down creatively. Right now, I am going through an unexpected family-related stress, although it is "happy" stress, but still, it keeps me unsettled, and unsettled keeps me non-creative.

So tell me more about the magnetic poetry kits, please?

swan
12-17-2002, 01:21 PM
Depression I can reason with, answer with creative responses but stress robs me of energy to produce. I should slow down the stress and gather my creativity before the depression overtakes me and my creativity.

I used to write. Recently, I did'nt have the time to write a poem or letter to myself, instead I wrote a letter to my husband and tried to put my feelings into words, he did not understand and thought I was off my rocker. I hide my depression when I don't express it, which hinders my creativity.

It is important to express depressing thoughts, continue in "creative mode" , I think that is why people change mediums. If you write a poem you are not mirroring your dark feelings in a painting and not interfering with that stuff, but keeping on a parallel route. Am I making any sense?

When I see others feeling the way I do, facing the same challenges, I realize that it is all part of the process. Thanks for sharing, the good and the bad!

Winty
12-17-2002, 02:17 PM
I guess that is the beauty of the "morning pages", or keeping a diary. Nobody who doesn't understand, ever reads it.

And I think that one of the reasons creative people might feel stressed, or depressed is that they may often feel like an "alien" in their own homes, so different is their perspective on life to that of family and friends. Some are blessed with those who do "understand" or at least support. Others, not so fortunate, feel that their priorities are being questioned, or shifted aside. Being creative is so much a part of who one is, that if it is belittled, or treated as frivolous or unimportant, then it undermines the whole person. It can be stressful, living with the feeling that one must always be defending oneself.

dd50
12-17-2002, 03:22 PM
Originally posted by Winty
I guess that is the beauty of the "morning pages", or keeping a diary. Nobody who doesn't understand, ever reads it.

And I think that one of the reasons creative people might feel stressed, or depressed is that they may often feel like an "alien" in their own homes, so different is their perspective on life to that of family and friends. Some are blessed with those who do "understand" or at least support. Others, not so fortunate, feel that their priorities are being questioned, or shifted aside. Being creative is so much a part of who one is, that if it is belittled, or treated as frivolous or unimportant, then it undermines the whole person. It can be stressful, living with the feeling that one must always be defending oneself.



AMEN and AMEN!!!

Dee

Winty
12-17-2002, 04:11 PM
I get the feeling so many of us have "been there". I wonder what the proportion of "us'ns" is, to the other artists, who lived perfect dream childhoods, and married dream mates. Kidding. Now I wonder how many tossed used paint tubes my way?

swan
12-17-2002, 05:02 PM
I do believe that only I can pull myself up when I am down, and there is nothing my family can do. .....My husband is a very devoted father and loves me, just does not take my need to be creative seriously. He wants a wife and a good mother to his children. It catches him by surprise when the kids come up with some really creative idea or comment and he realizes it must be because of me, and then he marvels. But I am glad he is not as expressive as myself, it may be too much. My creativity scares him....he likes life neat and tidy,....creativity involves destroying the present order to create a new one....... how I dare to "live" and express what I feel, this messes up his strategic planning process...Inspiration cannot be "planned", it is so elusive.

As I grow older, I am trying to have faith in my creativity, meaning that even if it is elusive, it will return to me, and that if I believe that the muses will visit, they will. If I stop believing (in my own creativity), then I will not see them even if they are there....It really helps to have fellow artists to encourage you and "Keep the FAITH!"

dd50
12-17-2002, 05:35 PM
Well, I'm not talking about just wanting support for my creativity from my husband, he will come home from work ..... and throw his stuff on top of my paintings ..... when we're at his family's house, and they joke about my painting .... he says nothing in my defense, or to make me feel better ..... he just smirks and looks at me ..as if to say "Well, are you gonna defend yourself'?

There is allot of emotional abuse going on, and stupid me thought I could change things .... even after 6 years, but now I know I can't ... and I'm tired trying ..... so ... away I go in Feb!!

Thank goodness ..... FINALLY!!! I can't wait !!!

Dee

PS .. if I got into my personal stuff ..... sorry. :-(

swan
12-17-2002, 06:53 PM
My nudes were in the basement, he found them too embarrassing to put up, but he framed one of my flower pictures.

One Christmas, I really wanted to paint. I did a "Victorian" reproduction for his mother. All of a sudden they all said "She's a good painter!" I felt his family considered me I guess, a pervert of some sort (when I painted nudes).

No one ever said anything bad, but I felt was very sad for myself, thinking that I did not paint because I was afraid of how everyone else saw me.

I went back and took a nude drawing class. I think that it is ignorant to make fun of anyone's work. My mother in law is very good to me and I really can't complain, but she is not a kindred spirit. When I stop to really think about it, I sort of feel sorry for her, and my husband, for being unable to understand and having such a narrow view of the world, they are missing out.
Good luck, I hope you find a path of your own to follow and that it leads you to happiness.

hummingbird
12-18-2002, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by Winty
Hummingbird:

I am not familiar with the term "magnetic" poetry., but it sounds attractive! ;)

This year, to deal with my depression, I have put full spectrum lights in my studio, over my flat file, which now supports my little indoor "garden". I plan to spend time reading, right next to the light, as well as "gardening"!

A little depressed can be expressed in poetry . . . but a lot depressed, and I shut down creatively. Right now, I am going through an unexpected family-related stress, although it is "happy" stress, but still, it keeps me unsettled, and unsettled keeps me non-creative.

So tell me more about the magnetic poetry kits, please?

Hi Winty! Your full spectrum lighting in your studio where you have your little garden sounds ***wonderful!*** I agree with what you wrote about alittle stress is OK, too much and you just shut down creatively. I hope everything goes OK with the "happy stress."

OK, now about the magnetic poetry...what that is is just words on little magnet strips that people usually put on their refrigerator. They make little magnetic poetry kits. The best known is the ones made by "Magnetic Poetry" and they have a website at http://www.magpo.com

You take these little word magnets and move them around and mix them up to make crazy poems. If you ever want to try it, but don't have any magnets go to that website. They have an online version of magnetic poetry you can play for free. Its alot of fun!!

Pat

Ron van den Boogaard
12-19-2002, 06:20 AM
I read on another thread in the cafe that a British artist painted words on twenty sheep and put them in a meadow, thus forming a random poetry generator.
So if you don't have a fridge....

swan
12-19-2002, 09:48 AM
I write a haiku to my sister at midnight, when I have been totally drained and need to free my thoughts. I know she will understand and enjoy this. It is better than complaining to her, cause there is nothing she can do. They just come out and I find myself surprised, it helps....

Winty
12-19-2002, 01:04 PM
Now that I think about it . . . someone gave a young couple I know some romantic word set (magnetic) and when I visit, I make up little poems about them on their fridge. That was the only "kit" of that sort that I was aware of, I believe it is especially made for newly weds.

I like the idea of the haiku to your sister, Swan. I wonder if mine would appreciate some poetry. Our emails to each other are so rushed, and mainly about family issues that require decisions, or health matters.

The painted sheep have a certain appeal, also. No longer will I count the unadorned versions while seeking sleep.