laguna dreams, photograph
“But an artist’s waiting […] is not to be confused with laziness or passivity. It requires a high degree of attention, as when a diver is poised on the end of the springboard, not jumping but holding his or her muscles in sensitive balance for the right second.”
– Rollo May, The Courage to Create
I liked May’s analogy of the diver poised on the board to describe the heightened sense of awareness that artists feel when they are in the creative process. To the outside observer it may appear that little is happening, but inside the artist be in the most intense and delicious state of attention possible.
I know that when I am out photographing, it looks like I’m just idly walking about, looking here or there. In reality, my focus is very directed, and I am processing the scenes around me as rapidly as possible, considering what might work, how to frame it, how to make it a creative capture, what I might do with the image later, etc.
Just like the diver, I, too, am poised, waiting for just that “right second”.
May also discusses the role of relaxation in the creative process. We have all heard the stories of people struggling to solve complex problems, only to have the solution come to them when they least expect it, perhaps while taking a walk or in the shower. He says that we are at our most creative when we are going back and forth between relaxed downtime and energetic work. It is the periods of intensity juxtaposed with periods of seeming inactivity that produce the best results. As in all things, I guess it is balance that works best.
What circumstances have led you to be at your most creative and productive?