When things are going well

Do you ever feel that when everything is going great for you, the less likely you are to strive for better things?

If you are any kind of creative person how well do you really perform when everything around you is just fine? I’m talking about the desire to create and the ideas that fuel that.

I actually find being comfortable a bit uneasy – like I should be doing something other than having a good time. Do you ever get that?

I used the think it was a natural cycle of ups and downs but the gaps in my creativity can be worryingly big and alarmingly inconsistent in their frequency.

I’ve tried allowing myself to enjoy the good times but I simply don’t function as well as I do when I am under duress.

The problem has been there since I discovered paint and canvas. When everything is going well for me, I seem to have very little desire to create or anything else for that matter.

Large pink modern art

“Uninspired. Same old ideas.
The tunes are tired and the words, insincere”

These are the opening lyrics from a beautiful and thought provoking song called Hurricanes, written and performed by Hannah Scott. For anyone who is the slightest bit creative they can apply to almost anything: music, painting, sculpture, writing, dance. They can be equally relative to every day life too.

It’s easy to keep doing what you do but it can be incredibly hard to come up with something new. The need to reinvent and renew is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Do you find yourself getting bored with doing the same thing all the time?

For years I have tried to understand why I go through periods of not wanting to paint. I used to think I’d run out of ideas but in fact I now realise it’s due to how easy or hard life is at that time. I absolutely need some kind of crap to deal with in order to dig down to the place where the good stuff comes from.

Hannah Scott

Hannah Scott

Suddenly it all made sense

So, right out of the blue, I hear Hannah’s song on the Dermot O’Leary Show on BBC Radio 2 on my way home from another disappointing Saturday afternoon at the paint studio and suddenly it all made complete sense.

It was a moment of self-realization (brought about by Hannah’s haunting voice and lyric). It was enough to make me pull over and stop everything.

For a moment I couldn’t breathe. Time stopped and there was no separation between where I was and what I was experiencing. Such was the power of her voice, the words and the melody. In fact it has become a turning point in my career (if you can call what I do a career).

It’s okay to be up against it

The answer became as clear as day: that I needed some degree of oppression to bring out the creative goodness in me.

If life is going well and things are good I lose interest in painting very quickly. No point having amazing ideas if I can’t be bothered to go to the studio is it? That’s the crucial distinction between painting and the desire to paint. And to be fair I am probably the only one who notices the difference.

My colleague Adrian literally has to push me through the door some days. Having more plates to spin than I can handle is key to getting the most out of my abilities and development. Now I finally have the tools to manage things more effectively. My work won’t probably won’t change but my understanding of what fuels it will.

I need bruises that last like tattoos

When the chips are down and the luck runs out I tend to come out fighting. This is where I’m at my best and most innovative.

I’ve been back through my archives looking for periods where I think I was on my A-Game and they correlate perfectly with some major crap going on at the time. It’s only thanks to Hannah’s song ‘Hurricanes’ that I now understand that these things are all linked together. I don’t know why they just are.

The irony of this is that we push and push and push as we strive to be better and more successful; we endure and tolerate this pain to earn a living and we stress about the slightest thing. We do this because of our passions but also because we believe in ourselves.

Yet as the success comes, even in short bursts, are we ever really comfortable? We are so used to being pinned against the wall that when it’s no longer happening things can feel strangely disjointed and at odds with our experiences. Would you agree?

The very fact we work this hard can lead us to the point where we don’t have to – even for short time – and that’s the bit I find problematic. So give me some shit to deal with and I’ll be fine. The work will be good and my head will survive the days when I have absolutely no desire to even breathe in and out.

Turning Hurricanes into a painting

The large pink abstract painting you can see in these pictures was born out of this song. It’s may not be what you’d expect a painting to be with a word like ‘Hurricanes’ in it (no dark or sinister tones at work here); instead it’s my interpretation of the track.

If you listen to it you may be able to see some of the melody and words appearing as shapes and colours (best not get into the whole Synesthesia debate right now). That’s what I’ve done here – used one song as the sole theme for the painting.

I would like to say that it’s meant to be uplifting too. Though the subtext may suggest otherwise it’s actually a celebration of self-discovery; of cementing that wonderful moment into an artwork that will always remind me of the time when I finally understood how to control the best bits about what I do. And if that’s not a reason to shut my eyes and smile I don’t know what is.

Check out Hannah Scott on iTunes