- Bianca Vinther
How to Allow Creativity & Inspiration to Flow: ART TALK with Susan Hopkinson
Susan Hopkinson can’t be easily defined, and she can't be put in a box. She is neither a yoga teacher or an Ayurvedic specialist, nor is she an astrologist or mindfullness coach, yet these are all aspects of who she is.
Let me put it this way: Susan is a feeling-better-about-one’s-life-expert. Because she works with people to help them feel better about their lives. She does her work generously and successfully without vanity in mind or a goal other than the desire to serve others. In her, you'll find the assertiveness of a leader and the humility of a monk.
Recently, I invited Susan to join me on The Pointless Artist Podcast to discuss creativity in art, inspiration and artist block from a somewhat different perspective than that of an arts practitioner. She kindly accepted my invitation and provided many insightful comments about the source of creativity, the link between creativity and inspiration, and how to deal effectively with artist block.
Read more about Susan and the talk we had on Friday, 3 February 2023 below, and listen to our conversation on The Pointless Artist Blog > ART TALK with Susan Hopkinson, or on The Pointless Artist Podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.
Susan is Canadian and Irish, but she has been living in Brussel for 32 years now. You can find her at: www.nurturingtransformation.com, and you can purchase her book, Teaching Yoga in an Upside-Down World: How to stay on the path when society goes off the rails, here.
Susan has previously been a great emotional support to me. Her guidance has helped me let go of my fear of fear, believe in my higher self, and seize the courage to change my life and become the visual artist, German language trainer, and mother I am today. She inspires gratitude and admiration in me, and I hope you, who are reading this blog post right now and will listen to our talk on The Pointless Artist Podcast, will benefit from her wisdom, too.
One thing that fascinates me about Susan is that she doesn't follow instructions and rule books. She's not a salaried employee, and she owns herself, her output, and her decisions. Gentle, empathetic, and firm, she responds to various individual requests with whatever is needed, and from the heart. She speaks, helps, and guides from the wisdom of her experience and connection to something greater than herself.
In short, she nurtures transformation in the most natural and genuine way.
My art talk with Susan in a nutshell: be humble, allow, let go
In this fascinating podcast episode, Susan Hopkinson talks about creativity, inspiration and artist block. She also discusses the link between creativity and inspiration, and reveals the secret to unlocking your creativity, finding inspiration, and being in the creative flow.
Susan emphasizes the importance of humility and letting go in the art-making process. With this talk and much like the previous guest on The Pointless Artist Podcast, the Polish painter Kristof Klimek, Susan sends out a clear and profound message of oneness and humility in a culture that prioritizes division, ownership, and the monetary value of art.
I’ve summarised in my own words and strung on a string 15 of Susan’s pearls of wisdom along with my own interpretation of her teaching, which you may use as a “prayer rope” whenever you need some direction as a visual artist or some tips on how to overcome artist block, unlock your creativity and inspiration, and be in the creative flow.
1. Creativity is "a naturally expressed state of being", "a visceral expression of who we are in the moment" and, at the same time, "a life force that drives us forward ". Creativity is unique to each one of us and inherent in all of us, but the mind clouds it over. Expectations and what other people want hinder it to a smaller or larger extent, leading, sooner or later, to artist block.
2. From the point of view of yoga and tantra, creativity is located in two chakras, in particular, the second and the fifth. The second chakra is the siege of our capacity to regenerate, which is connected to the sacrum, which, in its turn, is connected to the skull, the siege of the fifth chakra, which is about choice, one’s voice and self-expression and the capacity to say what you need to say. There’s a constant exchange of information between the second the the fifth chakra, therefore an artist block should be tackled from both sides simultaneously (Susan's way).
3. Artist block is rooted in your mind questioning your true purpose and genuine intention to make art. It comes from the ego, and it is those thoughts, self-censoring and ego-threatening questions, doubts, and actions that distract you and take you away from your purpose, i.e. from what you truly want to create.
4. Once you start to contain what you’re doing while you are in a creative flow and you begin to make choices based on an idea of what you should do instead, you “box yourself and your own creativity in”. Put simply, artist block is not allowing yourself and your creative energy to flow, as well as not letting go of your creative impulse.
"If you're not able to let go, nothing new can come in." (Susan Hopkinson)
5. Creativity and inspiration are two sides of the same coin, which is your inherent capacity to create. From Susan's point of view, inspiration is the motivation that drives your creativity forward and keeps it flow.
6. To create freely and truly, humility is the key. It is the way to create without expecting an outcome or projecting yourself as special or different from anyone else. Only humility can make you an instrument of life itself, which is, per se, creation and regeneration.
7. It is through humility that you can serve something much greater and higher than yourself. As you see things through humility, you'll realise that you aren't making anything yourself (none of us do), and you'll know that nothing you make is your own. We are not creators of anything at all. We are simply the ones who express this thing if we allow creativity and inspiration to flow through us.
8. The emphasis across the globe is nowadays on the monetary value of art and, often, on specific topics that are on the political agenda, which artists are supposed to respond to. From Susan's point of view, these aspects kill the inherent, intuitive, uncensored expression of who we truly are. Don't compromise too much. Stay true to your self-expression.
9. Always choose who you truly are over what is expected from you. And, by the way, there is no route map to your higher Self. All you need is less resistance and more trust, I'd say. Let go and let God, that's The Artist's Way.
10. Allow yourself to live the way you truly are.
11. Do the thing that you truly need to do.
12. In reality, there's no plan B, so don’t give yourself plan Bs. Stop being afraid of failure and push for your plan A instead. Think of the yogis, who have no choice because they know who they truly are and they’re clear in terms of the right action, therefore they don’t need to grapple with things. Or remind yourself of Picasso’s wise words:
"I do not seek, I find. It is a risk, a holy adventure. The uncertainty of such ventures can only be taken on by those, who [...] let themselves be drawn by the target and do not define the target themselves."
13. Allow and recognise rather than seek for something you can’t find, which is a potential source of frustration for you.
14. Draw little or no attention to yourself. Drop your ego and don't look for being recognised, but allow, allow, allow, and then let go.
15. Connect with people from the heart (on that level of "pre-self-identification", as Susan says).
"Humility is required to create. It is a service to a greater expression of life itself". (Susan Hopkinson)