The meat of Spark is, of course, the perspective and experiences of the artists themselves, but Julie Burstein, who produced the radio show and compiled the interview excerpts, offers a few insights into the creative process from her own experience. Here, she’s recounting part of a conversation with her mother, a college professor and author.
“My mother often reminds me that beginning a new project doesn’t start when you sit down at your desk to write, or stand in front of a canvas with a palette full of paint, or figure out a new tune on a piano. For most creative work, there’s a period that she likes to call ‘pawing the earth,’ when we must create the environment in which we can begin.”
– Julie Burstein, radio producer and author
This month, I’m sharing a few of my favorite observations from Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (Harper Collins, 2011), based on interviews conducted for Public Radio’s Studio 360, by Kurt Andersen and produced by Burstein.
When asked what artists can do in the face of destruction like the 9/11 attacks, which occurred a week before her interview:
“I think it’s a very sharp moment for people in the arts, those who love the arts, those who make them. I think it asks particularly of people who make art a very poignant question: If you think that art is not worth doing in a time like this, it probably isn’t worth doing at any time. If you think that art is indeed part of what I call the world’s work, then to be loyal to it and to look to it for strength, for its strength now, seems right.”
– poet Marie Ponsot
I’m continuing to share a few of my favorite observations from Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (Harper Collins, 2011), based on interviews conducted for Public Radio’s Studio 360, by Kurt Andersen and produced by Burstein.
Trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard on working on a soundtrack for a documentary about Katrina: “You can’t avoid your daily experiences. You have to write about those. From an artistic point of view, I had to do it. [Surviving and recovering from Hurricane Katrina] became a very emotional thing. … I didn’t want to be a part of that whole movement of folks where when something happens, everybody tried to jump on the bandwagon. But at the same time, I started realizing that I am a part of the story. Being an artist, you can’t avoid your social setting. … The trumpet represents, in my mind, people on the rooftops crying for help and not being heard.”
“Creativity does not depend on money. It depends on our sense of abundance. When we tend ourselves creatively, we often trigger an increased flow financially. Creativity is an act of faith. We extend ourselves, believing that good will come to pass. This act of faith brings us closer to our Creator, closer to our flow of good.”
– Julia Cameron with Emma Lively, Prosperity Every Day: A Daily Companion on Your Journey to Greater Wealth and Happiness (The Writer, June 2015)
“When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.”
— Madeleine L’Engle, American novelist and teacher, 1918-2007)
(painting: pastel on sandpaper, by Leslie)
“Artist Michele Shea says that being creative is a way to be a playmate with the divine. From the seemingly silly to the seriously sacred, your world awaits your creative touch.”
— Sera Beak, The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark (2006)
Go on. Be silly today, and see where it takes you. This bunny is waiting to play!
(watercolor by Leslie)
Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in simply being. It is not virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something—whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity—that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés, from Women who Run with the Wolves
Painting: The Barn, pastel on garnet paper, by Leslie Budewitz