“Feelings are guides not gods” is a phrase from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”, the new print version I’m currently working on. The concept is illustrated by this story:
Here’s some text from the book related to the artwork: “Do you think that feelings keep you from doing things? More good news – they don’t! We’ve all done many things we didn’t feel like doing – such as going to school or work when we didn’t feel like it – which proves that: Feelings don’t keep us from doing things. Moreover, when you do that thing you feel scared to do, you are nourishing your courage…… Remember, you are responsible for your feelings not responsible to them.” (see the Eggplant story above)
Cultivating and maintaining a high level of Emotional Intelligence is essential to well-being (and creativity). Good mental health is about more than just the absence of mental illness – it is the presence of good coping skills, being able to self-regulate, to see feelings as a guide whether the feelings are your own or someone else’s. (Btw: there’s a good article about teaching Emotional Intelligence here.)
I’ve found Dr. Bob’s concept of “feelings are guides not gods” applies to creativity, and the creative life, as well. Whether or not I feel a particular way doesn’t have to affect whether or not I make my artwork. My feelings are not a “god” to be obeyed. If it’s time to work in the studio, however short or long the time-to-work I’ve allotted is, off I go to my creative work no matter how happy, sad or inspired I feel at the moment.
Where I use my feelings as a “guide” is when I’m out in the world on the lookout for possible art-topics. I keep my inner eye open for things that capture my curiosity and my imagination. Then I keep a list of those things and my feelings related to them in my sketchbooks for future art-making. My use of this “feelings as guide” technique has helped me create many helpful guidebooks, so to speak, for my own creative life. I find it a sustainable creative practice.
All that aside I’d like to add that eggplant can, once in a while, be a very good vegetable – especially as eggplant parmesan.
Recently I’ve been super busy with fine-art exhibits and other illustration projects. But now I’m back to regular work on a new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”. During my work on the pages about Dr. Bob’s S.W.I.F.T. finger therapy I remembered how valuable this concept is when I’m in the middle of an art project.
While a project is not a person all creative projects also have an ugly-duckling stage. A point in which they’re more “mess” than “masterpiece”. A point in which things are happening with the colors and shapes that may not be what I intended or hoped for.
I’ve found the S.W.I.F.T therapy helps me remember to calm down about the mess. If a creative person gets too angst-y about the in-progress project it stops the flow of creativity. Possibly leading to a creative block. Remembering to think of “So What If….” finger therapy helps me relax and to do nothing radical to the in-progress project during my don’t-like-it moment. It enables me to let go, and approach the project later with an open, playful, mind. Perhaps after lunch, perhaps the next day.
Page from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” collected and illustrated by Clancy
If you’ve just joined my blog (and thank you for that!) here’s the last post about this project. The last post covers another mental-health technique that relates, in my mind anyway, to living the sustainable creative life.
I began learning these mental-health techniques and applying them to my creative life back in the 1990’s. I’m still creating new artwork daily. Still loving it. Something works.
Hope this book and these posts will help you too. All the best…
“Feelings are guides not gods.” – Dr. Bob Hoke
When I was in art school – and shortly after graduating – I tried wood sculpture, metal sculpture and pottery. I had a “story” of myself as a 3D sculptor. I soon noticed in each of those artistic disciplines that there were times where I was less than enthusiastic about my work. I didn’t “feel like working at it” and I was focusing on and treating this feeling of “I don’t wanna” as if it were a deity to be worshiped/obeyed/disobeyed. At the time I thought I had to “fix my attitude”, force myself to continue, and I struggled with it. I talked to Bob about this issue during one of our many lunches * and he said the quote mentioned above and told me something similar to the following story (which is excerpted from a book I’m now working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”):
So I examined my feelings (lived with the question a while) by keeping notes in my journal/sketchbook over the next month: I noticed that I loved to design the sculptures on paper and I loved the design process. I even loved the end result of the created sculpture, what I did not love was the process of creating the sculpture; the sawdust, splinters, sparks, the weight of the welding mask on my head and the fumes from pottery glazes and kilns/ovens. Those were the things I “didn’t wanna” deal with and would avoid by thinking of “other things to actually do” besides what needed to be done to finish the project. Turned out that my overall stick-to-it-and-persist attitude was just fine – all I needed to do was remove the media-elements that I so strongly disliked, that I had temporarily allowed to rule my desire to create. My feelings thus guided me to my present art media preference – cut paper collage. Which is not sculpture, nor the story of myself as a creator of really large 3D works, but turns out to “fit” the real me best. With my cut paper medium I still enjoy designing something in the dimensional sense: figuring out what physical piece connects to what, which layers over what. I love the end fine art product – for examples see www.sueclancy.com – and now I love the process of creating too because there are no splinters, sparks or fumes! The most I risk is a paper cut, or a glue-y mess – and all of those things I can live happily with!
*See also the result of these lunch-time meetings- the ebook: “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program – First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit