Purpose has great value in a life of creativity.
Without it, we can amble around getting nowhere for days, even years, not creating anything that excites or inspires or challenges us as artists.
When we have an aim in why and what we create, it helps align our energy and time in a much more effective and useful way. Which in turn makes our work and our artistic evolution feel far more rewarding and worthwhile.
But purpose doesn’t always have to be very strictly plotted out, with every detail of every project (and every moment) pre-determined and arranged.
Sometimes yes, we want the purpose of a session of creative time to be clearly defined with an outcome.
For example, if we’re involved in a project where we’re creating a series of works around a set theme, in a set medium, within a set time frame, then we need to organise our creative sessions to meet those criteria.
If we’re too vague and loose with our organising, and we don’t meet one or all of the requirements of the project, everyone ends up disappointed.
Other times though, our purpose needs to be determinedly undefined.
At least with regard to any specific material outcome (or end “product”) of the creative time we spend.
And this is where play comes in.
Whatever we create, all of us need to experiment, to explore, to play.
It’s the way we expand our horizons, hone our craft(s), and master our own unique ways of expressing what we need to express through our artwork.
Without play, there is no evolution, no development, and equally crucially, no fun!
We can use the idea of purpose – and purposeful creating – combined with an attitude of experimentation and play, to take our work and our creative experiences to new highs.
Finding the balance here is important, and this is part of the whole experiment.
Too much play and we never actually create anything that hangs together cohesively. Not enough play and our work likely bores us and becomes a chore, a factory line of near identical projects with no challenge or joy for us or for anyone else who experiences it either.
As well as having an underlying openness towards experimenting, setting aside specific times and sessions for play can work incredibly well too.
For example, you might want to commit to an hour of creative time and give yourself the following purpose –
I’m going to take this canvas, this green paint, this white paint, this tub of glue and this bucket of sand and explore the different textures and shades I can create.
I’m only going to take photographs with the camera in motion, to see how I can paint with light.
I’m going to write a stream of consciousness poem including as many rhyming words as I possibly can.
Of course the possibilities are as endless as your imagination is limitless.
What’s important here is that you’ve given yourself a set time, some set limitations, and a set purpose.
You’re not just sitting frozen for an hour, staring at a mass of materials, ideas and equipment, completely overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
And you’re not sitting down and churning out exactly the same piece of work you did last week, and the week before, and six months ago, merely going through the motions with an ever diminishing purpose and enjoyment.
The outcome is not predefined, and therefore will be a surprise and feed further new ideas, and encourage further experimentation. And so you – and your work – evolves.
What roles do purpose and play have in your creative life?
How could you benefit from incorporating them more often?
Come and join the conversation to let us know.
Thank you for reading. Please share these words. Subscribe for free updates.