Centaurs and rose bushes – lost in the labyrinth of too many ideas

What do you get when you put a mind already full of potential projects in front of Pinterest, Instagram and the wider world in general? Excitement, passion, curiosity and a mania for surplus creative ideas.

The world is this whirling carousel of “could’s” and “should try’s” and I find myself weaving in and out of semi-completed artworks and half-baked techniques like a kid running enthusiastically through a hedge maze.

Don’t get me wrong, I pick up handy hints and techniques that are really pretty cool along the way, but I find myself torn down the middle between on the one hand, expanding my horizons and on the other developing my work to its true potential.

I have a passion for materials you see – I love paper most of all – the folding, cutting, layering, scrunching, twisting; then add in texture, applying media like the free flow of watercolour, the definitive strength of Indian ink, the cleanness of printed graphics and gold foil, the magic of marbling.

I love the maths involved in taking the two dimensional and creating three. My years of teaching Graphics are coming out through my processes as I find myself doing a modern twist on Instrumental Drawing to create a 3D paper house or to try and get my head around a kirigami pattern.

As always, I find I’m split between a very logical and mathematical, almost scientific problem-solving based methodology and the free-play nature of art and the wild discoveries that it brings.

Maybe that makes me a sort of liminal being like a Centaur, half human, half horse with experience of being both but sometimes viewed as neither. It’s funny – I often feel at war with my own personality but maybe I need to embrace the inner Centaur. In Greek and Roman mythology liminal beings such as these often played mentoring roles because they carried a unique perspective through living in two worlds and being able to relate to both. Maybe to be two things at once doesn’t always mean being stuck in the ‘in between’.

So how to be both things without being superficial, underdeveloped or spread too thin? I think accepting my logical/creative split down the middle as being a strength rather than a weakness is a start.

To really develop my work might just mean putting limits on inspiration time and instead, taking on the advice I read recently in an article (https://www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/234140)

“Ideas are like rose bushes: they need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down. And just like a rose bush, pruning away ideas — even if they have potential — allows the remaining ideas to fully blossom.”

It’s easy to prune away an underdeveloped or dying branch, but when there are fresh buds or healthy flowers there it’s hard to snip them away.

I’ve recently found this hit home in a practical way when trying to sell my work at a local artists’ market. Sales were pretty average that day and looking back over my display and doing more reading it keeps hitting home to me that my work is too broad. My display was too full and didn’t allow my signature work to speak. It’s pruning time for me and it’s a hard thing for me to do.

In what ways have you had to prune back aspects of your life or work? Are there any tricks you use to help you know what to cut and what to keep? Does anyone else ever feel like a centaur, at war with their seemingly double-sided personality or skill set?

I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment below!