The call of the Muse - It's not a destination

It took me a while as a young student of art and design to realize that the purpose of my school projects wasn't always to produce something incredibly beautiful for my teachers to admire.  Sometimes the whole purpose was to go through a process.  A process that tested my technical capabilities, challenged my mind and stretched the physical qualities of my medium.  Thus I gradually learned to expand my self imposed limits of creativity.  The outcome or final product was part of the process and interesting as such, but it wasn't the beginning or end of all.  This is not to say that everything I did as a student was very ugly.  Some was, but some was quite good (if I say so myself, I even won a few awards in student shows - sorry, I just had to brag a bit).

The freedom that one gets from adopting this mindset when creating is wonderful and it makes life so much fun.  I love to do.  I love to do things.  In the sense of doing something to make something.  Some thing.  The whole process is joyous.  I feel good while I do it and I love every step of the way.  The beginning of an idea.  It can be like a tiny sprouting seed that takes days to emerge, a little bit at a time.  Almost shy to expose itself.  Or sometimes it gushes forth like a waterfall, screaming for immediate execution.  I respond to the call of the muse when I can, but some ideas have been germinating for years and decades and are still abiding their time.  I tend to be a bit spontaneous, but even so there is always a preparation stage, during which the idea will mature, change, evolve.  And then there is the execution.  That is bliss.  It's the culmination. It's full of excitement and unexpected happenings, some happy and some disastrous.  But almost without fail there is the birth of the next idea.  Oh, what fun!  And then it's all over and I'm left with something.  Some physical thing that somehow became the product of the process.  But it is not the whole point.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy it if people genuinely like something I did for it's face value.  But they will never be able to experience it the way I have.  And I don't particularly have a need to explain.  Which is why I tended to be reluctant to put a title to my work in the old days.  I'm not a practicing artist so this isn't a big issue anymore.  These days I make whatever strikes my fancy.  Soap, mostly.  Creams, lotions, herbal remedies, bread and yoghurt.  I'll grow plants and knit, crochet, sew and maybe dye fabric and even bind a book one day soon.  And I do it for me.  Precisely to experience the joy of the process.  Except it is sometimes an issue.  It annoys me tremendously when people foster on me their preconceived notion that everything is supposed to be pretty or good or nice.  And then proceed to tell me so, when it obviously isn't.  Or the opposite.  Sometimes that just isn't the point.

If I ask you to taste something I made.  Share with me the laughter, when it tastes revolting.  Make that memory with me.  When I make something that would be considered hideous in any culture on this planet, don't insult my intelligence by admiring it.  Maybe that experiment wasn't about beauty.  Ask me what I learned.  And please don't tell me that my work in progress is ugly.  How do you know?  Why would you want me to know that?  What if I care?  And what if I don't care?  What if I'm having fun?  I'm playing. I am learning.  And I am living.  May I suggest you do that too.


  1. Yes, yes and yes. I never pay compliments, no matter how fruitful my words come across. I can't stand it when someone does that to stuff I made. It's so obvious. Lots of sugar coating going on , 'tho. Thanks for this post, Ambra. I made some ugly soap today. So what?..

  2. Thank you Cocobong :) I had a feeling you would know what I'm talking about. I just needed to get that off my chest.


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