Emotion can Kill Creativity

Emotion can kill creative energy.

Notice I did not say it will kill creative energy. It can kill creative energy, or the creative process.


Of course, some art is emotional. A deep emotion can create energy that one can focus on, and utilize, as fuel for any creative endeavor; anger can drive a guitar piece, joy can guide a dance, grief can fuel a painting. Quite often creative expression is seen, or referred to, as a form of self expression – as in, one is expressing a feeling or emotion.


Sometimes, however, emotion can be a detriment. If I am fearful about a decision or process in my work, the fear may restrain me from making a bold or risky decision. If I am unhappy with my work I may quit or abandon a project or process. Conversely, if I am overly pleased or content, I may not make decisions that require risk, which would ultimately grow my work.


I offer an alternative. Practice developing an academic relationship with your work – neutral emotion - so that one is engaging in an intellectual pursuit, rather than an expressive pursuit. With neutrality comes objectivity. Objectivity like, is this color the correct value? Does this shape help unify the composition? Is my mark-making in relationship with my intent? Does the negative space retain power in and of itself?


What does it look like, rather than what does it feel like. Many times my students mix these concepts, basing the success or failure of a piece on the emotional experience of creating, versus the intellectual experience of creating and analyzing.


Pretend it’s not yours. Pretend you have never seen it before. Pretend you don’t CARE! Sometimes this approach of not caring can offer opportunities previously unforeseen, which can lead in entirely new and amazing directions. Not caring can offer a new world of creative freedom and bravery previously undiscovered.


Ultimately, I believe, great art comes from a balance or emotions and intellect. But, if you find yourself overly involved, become a skeptic - stop caring and make intellectual decisions. It just might lead to more expression.