My Creative Autobiography (inspired by Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit)…what is yours?

Once, despairing to put my finger on what it is exactly my art and creations are about – “finding out about what kind of creative animal I am without having a key” – I came up against the book The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, the great American choreographer (have I told you I LOVE contemporary dance?).

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In Chapter 3 on Your Creative DNA, she poses these 33 questions to let your mind discover the crevices, sources and roots of your creativity.

Think about these questions for yourself. Answer quickly, instinctively. Here are my answers to get you going.

1. What is the first creative moment you remember?

Creating a makeshift altar by dressing up my stool with a scarf, putting a small flintstone I had just found in the heap of gravel in the garden. I must have been 4, had never been to a church before, had never seen an altar in my life, having lived in the then socialistic Czechoslovakia.

2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

No. I think I even hid my little altar in the space behind the wardrobe. When I came the following day, it was gone.

3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had? 

To follow the process of the Artist’s Way…thought that might have been a calling rather than my own idea.

4. What made it great in your mind?

It’s hopefulness.

5. What is the dumbest idea?

To pour water from the second floor at school when playing truant in a PE lesson.

6. What made it stupid?

Well…we forgot to check the tipping window below us on the first floor…and the water went straight into the classroom below us :-D.

7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?

Rebellion, fun, freedom, wackiness.

8. What is your creative ambition?

To create street art therapy pieces with people around the world.

9. What are the obstacles to this ambition.

I don’t trust myself enough…just yet. I am not that well-known and sometimes have a problem declaring myself an artist even.

10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? 

Doing some more pieces locally and sharing the work with the world.

11. How do you begin your day?

Meditation, morning pages, yogi cleansing techniques and a couple of asanas…

12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?

The above, the rest of the day is/can be pretty varied.

13. Describe your first successful creative act. 

Aged 5 or 6 I write and illustrate my own book about a princess who is very ill, only letting her out into the woods heals her. Based on Karel Čapek’s fairy tale about Dr. Voštěp. I used old photographic papers I found in the drawer. Cannot actually remember the process, just holding the finished illustrated pages in my hand. Mum was surprised when she came across it by accident.

14. Describe your second successful creative act.

Aged 7 maybe 8: Making a wooden toy car to give my grandfather for his birthday. Found a piece of wood that reminded me of a car in shape, added bead wheels and painted it blue. Grandad liked it a lot and had it on display in his display cupboard.

15. Compare them.

They were similar in using the found around the home materials that were at hand.

16. What are your attitudes towards:

money – mixed, power – lacking sometimes, praise – not accepting sometimes, rivals – naive most of the time, work – resistant to that word actually, play – trying to make it into my work. 🙂

17. Which artists do you admire most?

The fun, playful ones, the deep even if simple on the surface, tongue in cheek: Yoko Ono, Nikki De Saint Phalle, Tracey Emin (the old one)…

18: Why are they your role models? 

See above

19. What do you and your role models have in common?

The love of colors, playfulness verging on childishness, simple ideas that are beautiful verging on the naive, cheekiness.

20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?

The kids and people I work in the gallery with. People in my Arting Group on FB.

21. Who is your muse?

The view from the window. Walk to work…

22. Define muse.

A someone or something that inspires me…and a/muses me.

23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?

I am in awe, bit envious perhaps.

24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness or indifference in other, how do you respond?

With sympathy and truth.

25. When faced with an impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?

Panic.

26. When you work, do you love the process or the result? 

Bit of both. But really, when I get into the process fully, I don’t mind the result 🙂

27. At what moment do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp? 

When trying something new, experimenting and being confronted by somebody about it.

28. What is your ideal creative activity? 

messing about with materials, ideas…and words.

29. What is your greatest fear? 

That I my ego will overrun the inner artist inside me.

30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening? 

Both do happen occasionally.

31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?

None.

32. What is your idea of mastery?

Flowing, following…perhaps.

33. What is your greatest dream? 
That one day…I shall live fully creatively and artfully in everything I do.

What is your creative autobiography?

Any insights? Or revelations?

Do let us know :-).

Looking forward to hearing from you…with love,

Irena

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