“I’m an artist. You give me a tuba and I’ll get something out of it.” John Lennon
The Creative Process:
My grandfather was Canadian artist, Jack Hambleton. Until I was six, I lived upstairs from his art gallery in Kelowna, British Columbia. I spent hours watching him paint his signature landscapes and harbour scenes.
|Christmas Harbour Scene, by Jack Hambleton|
Occasionally, he would explain what he was doing - but usually he worked silent, thoughtful and with the purpose and confidence of a pro. I was also to remain silent, if I wanted to stay. Anticipation grew in the silence, as mysterious shapes came into focus. To me it was magic.
It wasn’t until recently, as I’ve been refocusing my own creative process, that I realized the impact he had on me. He taught me a creative process that is now an important part of my life.
The basic elements are:
a) create an outline,
b) build a solid foundation, and
c) add detail.
But it is much more than that. I was a fly on the wall - a small part of the rhythm and connection that flowed from artist to art. It was a feeling. Like the pleasure release triggered from listening to a favourite song.
This experience was fuel for my artistic fire. As a community planner; maps, graphs, and text were the tools I created and folded into environmental reports and strategic plans. Before that, I worked as a prospector, and there was the same satisfaction when a program was completed with proper care and attention.
This principle of creativity, this magic, is everywhere – if we are aware, and willing to work at it. To the right person, in the right setting, there is elegance and beauty in mathematics, psychology, carpentry, law and the trades. Even a well-constructed outhouse can slide into place, producing that magical effect.
The 5-Year Plan:
I have a 5-year attention span - everything from relationships to hairstyles turns stale after five years. This has the potential to cause me no end of trouble, if I am not prepared. Falling in love every five years is downright dangerous. I’ve been with my wife for 11 years now. We work at our relationship, and it keeps getting better. Having children is also a great way to break the 5-year cycle – they’re keepers.
The trick is to keep the magic alive when possible, and recognize when it’s time for a change. If we apply some simple strategic tools in our lives, we can align our actions with our ambitions, and gain self-awareness.
If we know where we are going, and where we have been, we have basic self-awareness. The 5-year plan is a great tool for tracking our patterns. I’ve followed a 5-year plan since I was twenty-five. It’s not rocket science. I write down one goal from each main area of my life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Over the years, the focus moves around as I try to find balance. It's a work in progress.
Flexibility is key. I do a gut-check every year to make sure I don’t lose sight of the big picture. I usually surpass my expectations; however, 40 snuck up on me, and I got off track for a while. But that ended up being a good thing. My mid–life crisis made me realize I had twenty-five productive, professional, years left. It became an opportunity of a lifetime to pursue my passion for writing.
Make a Decision and Commit:
“A loser is someone so afraid of failing that they don’t even try.” Little Miss Sunshine.
Once you’ve made a decision - commit. The good things in life take years to develop – hence the 5-year plan. I take my time deciding, but once I’m in, I dive into the deep end and start swimming.
Grandpa also taught me to, “paint [write, build, etc.] through your amateur-ness”. You’re going to make mistakes – that’s part of any new adventure. You might as well face them head on and get them over with.
Once I decided to write full time, I fired up a blog, and started writing … and writing. Then, I fired up a second blog, and started writing poetry. I purged the decades of technical writing from my system. Since 2012, I’ve written over 100 posts, over 100 poems and self-published 3 eBooks on Amazon Kindle.
Through this process of trial and error I learned a lot. More important, I rekindled the fire smouldering in the pile of rezoning applications, and environmental assessments, that had long since gone stale.
For me it all starts with the fire, lit in my grandpa’s studio all those years ago.
What is that fire for you?
What's stopping you from pursuing it?
Best, Sam Edge