Creativity as Action


Almost a year ago I started talking about "creative exploring" after listening to an interview that discussed curiosity vs depression. One being the opening up and searching for answers and the other being a shutting down... The notion of being a creative explorer excited me and somehow it offered me permission to try new things. Somehow I realized if I said I was an explorer I didn't need to be an expert and that opened me up to doing a lot of new things.

Since that time I have continued to paint, I have also started to play with mixed media and collage, signed up to return to spending time at a clay studio, experimented with some easy at home printmaking techniques, doven deeper in to my Story Circles creations and embarked on a number of other creative explorations either solo or with my kiddos. The funny thing is, I don't talk to much about any of it.

I continue to show finished work, largely paintings, most of which were not particularly exploratory in nature. They are pieces I know hit all the bullet points I created for myself years ago that a piece needed to meet before "shipping" out the door.

Why am I talking about all this now? I am considering participating in the Moma 100 Day Project with Elle Luna and was just reading about it. The following excerpt caught my attention:

Just last week I was doing a studio visit with San Francisco-based artist, George Zisiadis, when he remarked, “I remember the first time I saw Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica.’ Next to it there were sketches he had done. Sketches? You mean it didn’t happen in one fell swoop? No! ‘Guernica’ was a long process of experimentation, and I’ll never forget realizing that. Creating work is about surrendering to the process. It’s about the act of creativity, which exists as an action and not as a product.”

The part that really struck me, "Creating work is about surrendering to the process. It's about the act of creativity, which exists as an action and not as a product." It doesn't matter how many times I hear it or the way different ways it is stated, this realization knocks me over every time.

Just yesterday I finally took action on an experiment I have been wanting to try in one form or another for at least 20 years... Fiber on a painting. This was low risk. I grabbed some existing embroidery thread I had for some bracelets, pulled out a $5 punch needle tool I finally bought around Christmas and trudged through the snow to my studio to grab a little 4" x 4" under painting on canvas that sat unfinished from 2 years ago. I spent about 90 seconds on it.

I learned a lot as I worked in those 90 seconds. In my head it was kind of like, "Oh, I need to push the punch all the way in and only barely pull it back out. Hey this is really cool, look at the texture I'm making. Wow that pink looks hot against the underpainting. Shit, there is a stretcher bar there and I can't punch in to it..." That's a lot to learn in two minutes, but that's what happens when you try something new. When you surrender to the process and just tune in to the action...

I really didn't want to share the piece above. The paintings isn't finished or at all like I envisioned it might be. The lines from the stitch work are a little warbly (is that a word). The entire little canvas feels uncertain to me, maybe it feels curious about where to go next, I guess it's time for some more exploring...

If you want to do some exploring too but aren't sure where to start join me for a one week Story Circle introduction where we explore mandala making, visual storytelling and symbol, it's low risk too... read more by clicking the banner below.