Haiku to the rescue!

In my last blog post I shared with you how I had jeopardized my own creativity by imposing rules on my work.
This time I would like to tell you a bit more about what helped me to overcome this creative block and other thoughts around the topic which seems to connect with so many of you.

I have a theory that part of it goes all the way back to when we were kids at school. Give a picture to a young child (before they start school) or read them a poem and listen to what they see or hear…you might be amazed. There are no limits to their imagination, each kid will probably tell you something different…how wonderful is that.
Then comes school and at least back in my school-days suddenly there was only ONE correct interpretation of an image, ONE correct analysis of a poem or any kind of literature and you only got good grades when you hit that…as exactly as possible. So we bought books about how another book should be interpreted, read interpretations about an artist’s work to write ‘our own’ interpretations… We learned over many years that there had to be a specific meaning, that was universally understood, in every single photograph, painting or literary piece to be a ‘good artist’.

So later when we start to create our own work and especially when we want to be taken seriously as artists we adopt this learning. We are even told to NEVER share work that does not have portfolio quality – which of course also means that it has to be special – by really great mentors and artists (who went through the same schools ;-)). But what helps someone can have the opposite effect on someone else and it certainly had on me. I felt no longer free to create work that did not have a special meaning or could not be interpreted ‘correctly’. [Lee, if you read this – does that sound familiar? ;-)] So we come up with descriptive titles, write whole essays and interpretations about what we mean with our pictures and words and what our ‘audience’ has to think.

But who tells us that what we learned at school was really what the artist intended? And even more important – who tells us that the artist would not have been happy if we found something different in his/her work which resonated with us even deeper? Who says that our way cannot be a different one if we are not allowed and don’t allow ourselves to try?

I strongly believe that there is no universal TRUTH in art.

A while ago I posted my story “Transcending” (it was by the way published in Dodho magazine yesterday  ;-)) on Twitter without giving my own interpretation to begin with and it was wonderful to read what some of you felt when looking at the images.
Some years ago, when I started to share images, one of them – which for me was beautiful but ‘nothing special’ – touched someone else so deeply that it made him cry… I gave it to him as a present and it hangs on his wall now – how beautiful is that?

I have learned that it is very rewarding to not tell people what to feel or think about my work, to give them room to experience it for themselves. It does not mean that I don’t sometimes share my own thoughts and intentions but I don’t feel anymore that I have to explain and ‘make everybody understand it correctly’.

Take this poem for example which I wrote early this morning while walking our puppy in the garden.

Looking at the sky
I tilt my head –

the night smiles farewell…

Writing ‘free-style’ Haiku poems is for me a beautiful way of expressing simple matters and giving the reader an opportunity to find their own interpretation. It helps me to overcome my self-imposed rules that all my work has to be unique and special, that it has to have a deep meaning and message and that I need to constantly make sure that people who see or read my work also understand this message – preferably EXACTLY how I intended it.

The funny thing is that by giving up on the rules that things HAVE to be unique and special, you will also find out that everything you create IS actually unique and special because you are.

So what do you feel when you read this poem, what are your thoughts – try it, don’t limit yourself by trying to guess what I might have meant and if you share your thoughts with me I will share my own with you and none will be right or wrong. Let’s be kids!


  1. John on June 9, 2018 at 09:57

    Yes exactly 🙂
    Expressing our uniqueness to the World through our art is one of the most beautiful and special things an artist can do…in whatever form that may take and I love how it transcends all boundaries and creates a connection with others.
    You do this beautifully Isabel with your pictures and words.

    • Isabel on June 9, 2018 at 13:21

      Thank you so very much! 🙂

  2. Dave aka No.1 on June 29, 2018 at 10:25

    Looking at the sky
    I tilt my head –

    the night smiles farewell…

    Those few words are beautiful, and remind me of when I stand outside in my back garden, looking at the stars and mentally saying goodnight to my lovely Mum and Dad, long since passed, but always there.


    • Isabel on June 30, 2018 at 15:39

      That is so wonderful that you do that and that my poem reminds you of it… 🙂

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