I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Friday, July 27, 2012


A lot of people avoid solitude because they’re afraid of being lonely, but as I recently heard on a radio program, solitude is necessary for real creativity.  Schools and businesses like to have brainstorming sessions and work in teams, but according to the expert on the radio, this only lets the most assertive person’s ideas prevail, who may or may not have the best ideas.  More creative results happen when introverts are given a project before meetings to work on by themselves.  Since bosses are often extroverts, they usually don’t understand why the introverts want or need to work alone.

I don’t know if I was born an introvert or became one by my environment.  I didn’t have much choice about solitude when I was growing up.  Living in the woods made me look forward to church and school so I could play with other children.  Sometimes I was heartbreakingly lonely, but I also figured out ways to be self-entertaining.  In the end, I decided to like my own company because no company is better than bad company.

Envy is a motivator in our culture, but it’s isolating.  It pushes us to conform to what we think other people expect from us, whether or not those things are true to our natures or make us happy.  When we give up ourselves, we can be lonely in a crowd.  When I was alone in the woods, I might be jealous of kids who lived in town because they had neighbor kids to play with, but I had plenty of things to do.  I didn’t have to conform to what anybody else wanted, and the freedom of solitude is something that a lot of people never experience.  In some ways, I was lucky to be lonely – even though there were times I complained about living the experience.

It seems to be human nature to rank ourselves in hierarchies.  Is our social status based on beauty, athleticism, intelligence, achievements, bank account, ancestry, or whatever, and how can we climb up a rung on the ladder?  When we’re alone, there’s no one to compete against except ourselves.  The only one judging us is ourselves – and we’re taught those judgments by others.  Babies in the crib don’t worry about whether their smiles are good enough.  When I stuck feathers in my hair, draped my neck with flower leis, made jewelry out of cicada shells, and dabbed myself with pine resin for perfume, nobody was there to tell me that I looked funny and cut it out.  I swam naked in the river and had absolute freedom without worrying about whether my arms, legs, nose, mouth, fingers, toes were the right shape.  The right shape for what?  To justify my existence?  Should I modify myself to conform to someone else’s concept of what I “should” be?  Quit swimming because someone might see?  Who?  That was kind of the point.  There wasn't anyone to see.

We’ll never make everybody happy by being ourselves, but that’s their problem.  They’re working out their own envy/hierarchy issues.  When we quit worrying about them, we’re free to really open up our enjoyment of life and our creativity.  When I was grown up, I told a friend I was practicing for when I could be an eccentric old lady.  He said I could quit practicing.  It's one of the joys I get from being a feral child in the woods :)

The floral above started with the really simple idea of the gray squares with a pink dot, but it just insisted on going its own way.  Since I was by myself, and nobody told me not to, I let it.


  1. There's a difference between being alone and being lonely. Personally, I prefer the lack of company when all it will lead to is a (more) complicated existence. Solitude is not a sin. My take on it anyway.

  2. I agree with Rand. I have often been my loneliest in a crowd, and I think most people probably have. And I most certainly agree that solitude is necessary for real creativity. I totally love your last sentence. I'm going to remember it and use it someday.

  3. I love how your post started out as the pink dot and grey squares, and then had a mind of its own! This was an interesting post...I've always been interested in the introvert/extrovert comparison, being an introvert that's pretty good at faking it when I have to be extroverted!

  4. Beautiful, decorative design! I am sure the world runs best with a combination of extroverts and introverts, but sometimes it seems that extroverts think their way is the right way. And it's really too bad, because it means they don't want to understand what would make someone different.

    On the other hand, dividing people into any groups at all always runs the risk of creating an us vs. them phenomena. Oh geez, I'm rambling. Great post!

  5. You always pack such intense thoughts and feelings in a wonderful post. I always sought alone time as a kid, growing up in a home with six brothers & sisters! Being alone was precious and treasured and it still is, although my family thinks, I'm in the "zone" to much! LOL! Great post as always...

  6. I think what we do is isolating in it's way. We paint or write in solitude for the most part. I think it is also a way for our minds to go to the netherland where we are creative.
    Blogs are a nice way of reaching out to others that are creative. I am inspired and learn so much from what others have to say.

  7. Letting your image do it's thing produced a lovely result. Isolation can be inspiring.

  8. Thanks everybody! I think most artists have an introspective side, but are any of us entirely one way or another? It just keeps life interesting :)

  9. I've been wondering lately if there's something wrong with me because I prefer my own company above all...but I know for sure that, as an artist, this is where the best and the deepest art comes from. Thank goodness for email, it's so much easier to touch heart-to-heart with a friend...and then get back to that fruitful solitude. Excellent post, my dear! Sweet, delicate artwork too. :-)

  10. I was an only child and had to be creative myself. I definitely have lonely moments even now because being a stay at home artist can be isolating. But I'm not complaining mind you.

  11. nice subtle color shifts...
    I agree about your radio program's take on introverts. Stellar bosses are extroverts with empathy who know that people work differently than each other, and allow for each to shine uniquely.

  12. The only times I remember being lonely was during my twenties, on occasions when I didn't have people to "hang out" with on a Friday or Saturday night, and sometimes on a Sunday when my friends were spending time with their relatives. I lived away from mine and envied how they all gathered for Sunday dinner.

    That phase dissapated as I learned to enjoy the peace and solitude of being alone. I'm very social, however, reading and writing is all I need at times... or a nice walk or jog. :)

    1. Today, your image is "pretty." :)

  13. Lovely illustration, Linda. And I totally agree with you that one needs to become introspective to tap into creative energy.
    I read a book by John Cowper Powys on 'A Philosophy of Solitude' and enjoyed it very much. There is value in solitude as well as in being surrounded by good friends.
    Wishing you a lovely August.

  14. So much creative beauty from a solitary pink blob :)

  15. Thanks for the comments everybody!!

  16. I've been away for a while but wanted to comment on this illustration. It's gorgeous - and I have only a small idea how you got to it from the single dot in the grey field. I keep thinking of the larger picture as set in an alcove in a wall, the center of attention, calm and colorful. Thanks so much for sharing!