Results 1 to 29 of 29

Thread: The creative process

  1. #1

    The creative process

    Hi. I'd like to start a conversation about the creative process. I'm a painter, who over time has conditioned a kind of specialized painting brain, so the process will look a certain way. Please do write about your own experience. Everyone is different and of course there is no right and wrong, better or worse.

    I've tried to describe it as clearly as possible........


    Creative inspiration and energy are the basic elements of my work life. Since the age of 18 (now 51) when the first painting was sold, it has been important to understand the creative process and work with it daily. Livelihood has depended on this.

    Inspiration/energy, can not be forced or manufactured. It can only be invited by cultivating good conditions and leaving myself open to it. Once it arrives it is a temporary state. It rises, crests, and falls away. Becoming familiar with how inspiration rises and falls, and learning to let it go, has been a necessary career and life lesson.

    First Here is a description from my studio journal describing the quality of heightened inspiration and energy....

    Inspiration can be defined as the sudden appearance of a novel idea or vision. It can also be defined as a state of receptivity that allows for the flow of ideas. There is another factor that I think is more basic to all this. It is a special intensity of aesthetic appreciation that involves a welling-up of energy. This energy brightens and expands the whole outlook and activates abilities that are otherwise not available.

    This spring I had a bad flu and was at one point feeling very weak. While in this state I was presented with a beautiful fresh tulip of vivid yellow. I saw that it was beautiful and felt uplifted, but from a place of physical exhaustion that uplift was limited, because the energy for appreciation just wasn't there. If I was in a healthy state, with a healthy level of energy, the beauty of that tulip would have taken on a greater charge. If I was in a heightened state of inspiration the experience would be of a different order. The tulip would take on a burning intensity, a kind of resonant perfection that lights up every faculty, and gives rise to tableau-visions. There would be an bright sense of potential, and the energy to realize that potential. It is a place were real magic can happen, and where a painting can be given the spark of life.
    A tableau-vision is flash of non-sequential understanding. For example if I was looking at that tulip and painting it, the whole field of visual perception, all the relationships within it of light and shadow, colors (which all completely condition each other), as well as the entire technical order of the painting process, would be seen at-once. Put simply, things aren't “figured out” in sequence, the “solution” is experienced at-once. I think that everyone, in some way, experiences this “zone” in different kind of activities, not just in art making. It is a peak experience that makes doing a large complex project do-able, the race winnable, the mountain climbable, the realization of new skills possible. A Longer lasting element of inspiration is a state of Free-play, where creativity is a spontaneous, unselfconscious, dance at the highest skill level. This is marked by Joy. The Joy of free-play is not goal oriented. There is just painting. The process is the thing.

    Both tableau-vision and Freeplay come and go. Creative projects depend on the former to launch, and on the latter to take it into new areas of skill and realization on the canvas. This is most helpful when starting with an empty studio. Through heightened inspiration and energy enough visual information can be created on the canvas that a feedback loop can take over. Then with the new skill level established, the energy required to continue is less. It is still possible to be “off” where skills are not strong, and that is a good time to step away, but otherwise a regular more paced approach is possible.

    Beginnings and ending.

    There are two endings I'd like to mention. One is the beginning and ending of high energy inspiration. It can easily become addictive, because it is a high. When I was younger I thought nothing of staying up through drugs or willpower. It was common among artists I knew, and there is even some self-destructive romantic myth around it. The truth is it only punishes your body and leads to burnout. Learning to feel the ending of natural inspiration and letting it go, has been a hard won skill, but I can still push it sometimes with caffeine and late nights, when a sale is needed and a deadline is approaching. I am working to reduce that as much as possible.

    The other ending is an interesting one. It is the ending of a project-painting, When a painting begins there is bright promise and possibility. You put your energy into it, sense the gathering of elements, and see it start to take form. There may be points where the thread is lost, then found again, and as it nears completion there is momentum. Then it is complete, and the experience is over. When it is complete there is a little taste of grief. No matter how a project ends, whether in “success”, or as a “flop”, there is a letting go and a pause. There is a pause between inspirations. It might feel like inspiration will never return, but I have learned that left alone a new inspiration is born and the process begins again. Learning to ride these waves has been a big part of surviving professionally.

    That just about describes my process. Thanks for reading


    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today


    .
    Last edited by RichardH; 05-21-2016 at 02:22 PM.

  2. #2
    The primal source of my creative energy is my sex energy. It is transformed into life and spiritual being.

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  3. #3
    I have seen this frequently - a low energy nervous system, a normal energy nervous system and a high energy nervous system. Some systems shut down when slow but are able to bring to the canvass the beautiful depths of darkness experienced by them. Some normal nervous systems make steady progress but maybe lack the fire of emotion. Others catch fire with energy and their work shows.

    Those that have talent are able to capitalize and capture their energy for all to see under the right circumstances.

    There is a great book - Touched by Fire - that talks about how some folks operate this way.

    I am not an artist, just an observer.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  4. #4
    I do something. See it through. Try again.

    Gassho

    Sat Today


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Thanks for these responses. That just about says it Byrne. Looking at the OP it seems pretty jargon-ish, and I would never talk like that while teaching art. The approach would practical and down earth... hands on. Not esoteric.

    Thanks.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    Sat today

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    I wish I was more responsible with my creative energy. I get all high on it and never actually engage with it in a productive fashion, just a lot of abandoned projects. Sometimes, I surprise myself, but I need to remember that it comes and goes, and that's okay, and that I shouldn't push myself to the point of burn out. It also tends to draw very heavily from sexual energy, which is distracting and burns out twice as fast.

    Gassho, sat today
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you for sharing, Daizan. I have a lot of creative ideas---which makes gardening and a sketchbook, where I can paint and draw, some wonderful tools to create. =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today
    Last edited by Joyo; 05-22-2016 at 03:22 AM.

  8. #8
    "Inspiration/energy, can not be forced or manufactured."

    So true Daizan.

    "..I need to remember that it comes and goes, and that's okay."

    and so true Geika!

    For me the creative energy comes in a flash. And I mean only a flash. This moment might come out of no where, or it might come when I see an artwork that inspires me, or hear a meaningful turn of words, but usually it just arrives unbidden. It's more like an insight, where I have a "vision" of what I want to actualize. I am primarily a three dimensional artist. I cannot work unless I know where I am going. Once the "idea' is alive then I have to figure out how to make it work and this is "process". I have to figure out all the legistics: size, materials etc. And then I have to make a detailed sketch that I can work from (e.g. exact dimensions) so that I can "craft" the object. Of course there is creativity involved all along the way, but the real creativity was the birth of the idea and the rest is process with ongoing decisions to be made.

    I think of painters, or dancers, musicians even cooks living out their creativity one brush stroke, one step one note oneingredient at a time. Creativity in motion. I've envied that abandon.

    I think of creativity as part of everything, and when I step into a creative moment I've come home. It's that divine, it's like being for that moment imbued with grace. It's always there but sometimes (many times), I'm not.

    Who knows why humans have always needed to "create"? but is sure makes for an interesting world.


    Not sure this is making any sense. Creativity is a sacred act. Addictive and luscious.
    Thanks for letting me speak.

    Anne
    ~st~
    Last edited by Cooperix; 05-25-2016 at 02:07 AM.

  9. #9
    Oh yes, I meant to respond to Rich's interesting take on creative energy being sourced from sexual energy.

    I'd say for me right now (70 year old female!!) that's inconsequential. I'd call it more SENSUAL energy at this stage in my art making. But yes, 35 years ago for sure now that I think about work that I was doing those years ago.

    So interesting to think about how energy transforms in our lives, and transforms our lives!

    Sensual, for sure now as I am making paper out of grass...the texture, color, smell... dizzying.

    bows...
    Anne
    ~ST~

  10. #10
    I view my creative energy more gently these days (yes - I agree Anne - energy changes as one ages). I have much longer periods of things lying fallow - sometimes
    I get scared that I won't make another piece of art or be able to write another novel - but then it all changes and I'm into a new project.

    I don't analyse my creativity anymore - just happy when it's there - grace indeed.

    Good to share,

    Jinyo.

    sat today (and played with my new felting machine

  11. #11
    The word "Grace" in the creative process resonates with me, and I have no idea why. It just does.

    Also, I use to have endless energy, staying up night after night. Now all the energy spent has to be accounted for. Every hour of sleep lost has to be found somewhere. A 2 pm nap is helpful. Time feels more precious, less throw-away, and more is made with the energy available. I wasn't happier when this body seemed endless and could take a lot of abuse. I'm much happier now, with reading glasses, naps, and sore feet.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    I'm much happier now, with reading glasses, naps, and sore feet.
    That is the core of it isn't it?
    Aging and zen I feel tend to have that effect... more in the here and now one learns to appreciate that.
    Thank you Daizan

    Gassho
    Ongen
    Sat Today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  13. #13
    Yes Jinyo!
    "-sometimes
    I get scared that I won't make another piece of art or be able to write another novel - but then it all changes and I'm into a new project."

    Isn't that the way creativity is, comes and goes. very scary that way.

    In the last year I have had an insight into how my creativity works.
    When I am faced with an aesthetic dilemma I have learned that I cannot confront it head on. No way has that ever worked. Thinking it through I then drop it into my mind very much like a KOAN. And let it work itself out. Then, amazingly, out of nowhere an idea/solution will appear. It might take a few days or a few weeks. But if I use my discursive mind to try to find a solution it just does not work. Also the first solution that appears might be on the right track but needs more tending so once again I let it go and see what appears over time. The discursive mind solves the technical problems but not the pure aesthetic ones for me. And I can tell by the finished piece, which were insights and which were wrestled out of me.

    Curious if this is familiar way of working to anyone else?

    (felting machine?)

    bows.
    Anne

    ~st~

  14. #14
    Inspiration, agitation, resolution.

    Gassho,
    Sozan

    s@2day

  15. #15

    In the last year I have had an insight into how my creativity works.
    When I am faced with an aesthetic dilemma I have learned that I cannot confront it head on. No way has that ever worked. Thinking it through I then drop it into my mind very much like a KOAN. And let it work itself out. Then, amazingly, out of nowhere an idea/solution will appear. It might take a few days or a few weeks. But if I use my discursive mind to try to find a solution it just does not work. Also the first solution that appears might be on the right track but needs more tending so once again I let it go and see what appears over time. The discursive mind solves the technical problems but not the pure aesthetic ones for me. And I can tell by the finished piece, which were insights and which were wrestled out of me.

    Curious if this is familiar way of working to anyone else?


    A project will get going and will have certain form, and I will try and resolve everything within that form, becoming set within that form. The form becomes crystallized, rigid, and at a certain point I have to stop trying to resolve issues within that form. Letting go of it is not always easy, because time and effort have been invested in it. I have to get a bit exhausted and give up. Then a new form appears.

    That might sound a bit wordy... all I mean is that ideas start fresh, then start to crystallize, and sometimes I can get stuck in them. I have to give up on it out of frustration, and then something new appears. Hope that makes sense. Sometimes I try and fake giving up, but that doesn't work. I have to go through the discomfort and the low, and really give up.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today
    Last edited by RichardH; 05-26-2016 at 12:40 AM.

  16. #16
    Yes - Anne, Daizan - that is exactly it. I'm toying with a project inspired by Indra's Net just now - the idea is strong in my mind but I
    have to keep letting the form go as the work develops organically, changes and searches out its own medium.

    Anne - a friend introduced me to needle felting recently - I love working with all the dyed wools - brilliant range of colours - just like painting - but because of my physical disabilities I was finding it impossible to manage the needle punching (very repetitive and hard on wrist/finger joints and arm muscles). I have bought a machine that does the needle punching for me (its like a sewing machine) and its brilliant. It can punch up to 900 times a minute!).

    will post some pics later,

    Gassho
    Jinyo

    sat today

  17. #17
    Here are some Diane Arbus images that have just recently surfaced.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ttom-well&_r=0

    makes me wonder about photographers and their "decisive moment" of creativity. Recording rather than making, how does that feel? The creative spark is there but in a very different way than I experience it I assume. And writers and poets, musicians, dancers...??

    I have a friend who had a successful long career as a visual artist and is now a successful writer. She and I have discussed how those activities are very different. Different part of the brain engaged. Jinyo, you know about that, I suspect.

    Anyway just wondering.

    And Jinyo, images would be good! thanks.

    gassho,
    Anne
    ~st~

  18. #18
    I make a living off of music I've written (and co-written) and visual art I design (mostly t-shirts) Making these different things is exactly the same for me. I just do it. I don't think about it. I don't question. I don't get attached to any specific vision other than completing what I started. I am fortunate that life has created circumstances for me that I can do this with my wife and have forged an audience interested in what we do that keeps it going. In order to keep that audience engaged we must produce content. So we do. How that comes together is irrelevant to me. It happens in many different ways. Some stuff I've done gets forgotten. Some reminds me of a specific time. Some changes over time. Visual art especially changes over time. Whenever I'm making something I usually have a very frustrating inner voice lamenting my incompetence. I've learned to just accept that and keep moving. That approach works pretty well for me.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post
    "Inspiration/energy, can not be forced or manufactured."

    So true Daizan.

    "..I need to remember that it comes and goes, and that's okay."

    and so true Geika!

    For me the creative energy comes in a flash. And I mean only a flash. This moment might come out of no where, or it might come when I see an artwork that inspires me, or hear a meaningful turn of words, but usually it just arrives unbidden. It's more like an insight, where I have a "vision" of what I want to actualize. I am primarily a three dimensional artist. I cannot work unless I know where I am going. Once the "idea' is alive then I have to figure out how to make it work and this is "process". I have to figure out all the legistics: size, materials etc. And then I have to make a detailed sketch that I can work from (e.g. exact dimensions) so that I can "craft" the object. Of course there is creativity involved all along the way, but the real creativity was the birth of the idea and the rest is process with ongoing decisions to be made.

    I think of painters, or dancers, musicians even cooks living out their creativity one brush stroke, one step one note oneingredient at a time. Creativity in motion. I've envied that abandon.

    I think of creativity as part of everything, and when I step into a creative moment I've come home. It's that divine, it's like being for that moment imbued with grace. It's always there but sometimes (many times), I'm not.

    Who knows why humans have always needed to "create"? but is sure makes for an interesting world.


    Not sure this is making any sense. Creativity is a sacred act. Addictive and luscious.
    Thanks for letting me speak.

    Anne
    ~st~

    Thanks for this. I identified with everything you said. When I am on the ice I am free to move about and create. And its totally spontaneous.

    The universe itself is a continuous creative process. And the sensual is an extension or transformation of the creative energy.

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  20. #20
    Suspect that we all experience creativity in one way or another. Frankly when I am doing things that might be considered creative -- often in writing or photography -- I am so lost in the process, the technicalities, that I can go all day without eating and not realize it until my stomach starts to cry out. Literally "I" do not exist during those times. Afterwards sometimes "I" am pleased, more often not so much. It's like a koan. The more words one uses, the further one is away from.... I don't know anything about creativity, but looking back I can imagine that it happened while I was somewhere else.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    sat today

  21. #21
    OK. which animal would you choose to be if you were seeking a life living in the present moment?
    Goat, badger?
    Artists are nuts and this article makes me smile and so glad to live in a world where artists can become a goat and get a grant to do it.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...-being-a-beast

    sorry this is a bit off the topic of creative inspiration, but I thought you all might get a kick out of this artist's search for the present moment.
    Zazen might be easier. Don't have to eat worms.

    gassho.
    Anne

    just sat

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Wow... those guys really went for it, Anne! Thanks for posting.

    Gassho, sat today
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  23. #23

    The creative process

    My most creative moments have always been my darkest moments and its a place I really don't want visit again. Until recently, I thought this was the only way for me to tap in to my creativity.

    Music has been my creative outlet ever since I can remember. I earned a music degree and played in various symphony orchestras for over 20 years. A couple years ago after we had our youngest, I stopped playing in the orchestra. I don't know if it was burn out from music or just having all my time consumed by work and family. The rehearsal, personal practice time and performance schedule just got to be too much.

    So, I bought a camera on whim and fell in love. I don't know if it considered art or not but that is my creative outlet now. I really threw myself into it. I learned all the rules of lighting, composition, posing and the technical aspects of cameras, lenses and flashes. I would take people out with all this swirling in my head and do portraits sessions trying to get everything perfect. I was really trying to force my creativity and it wasn't working. So, I am learning to let go. I am finding just being present and having fun nurtures my creativity too.


    ..sat2day•合掌
    Last edited by Troy; 05-31-2016 at 02:04 AM.

  24. #24
    peanut.jpg

    I came across this on the way to the studio yesterday. This little guy (saw it was male when moving him to a more dignified resting place) had been struck by a car earlier. He still had a peanut in his mouth.. part was eaten, part was still in the shell. Evidently he was heading home feeling pretty good. I couldn't help seeing a lesson; don't get so excited with the peanut that you don't see the car.

    I have a peanut today, a gem of an art project that is filling me with purpose and energy. The world looks sunnier when things are cooking. Very absorbing.

    A pause for all the beings great and small with hopes and dreams.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today
    Last edited by RichardH; 06-01-2016 at 12:26 PM.

  25. #25
    Good lesson

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  26. #26
    Thank you for this reminder.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday

    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    peanut.jpg

    I came across this on the way to the studio yesterday. This little guy (saw it was male when moving him to a more dignified resting place) had been struck by a car earlier. He still had a peanut in his mouth.. part was eaten, part was still in the shell. Evidently he was heading home feeling pretty good. I couldn't help seeing a lesson; don't get so excited with the peanut that you don't see the car.

    I have a peanut today, a gem of an art project that is filling me with purpose and energy. The world looks sunnier when things are cooking. Very absorbing.

    A pause for all the beings great and small with hopes and dreams.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  27. #27
    Hi. I would just like to mention that the Art Circle subforum has been opened up to new threads by members. If you are working on a project, and it is going well, or a tough struggle, or a murky wandering, or a bright dance... any creative project that you are engaged in, please feel free to start a thread, and share the process. We can all support each other in our endeavors.

    I'll be starting a new thread in a few days showing the development of a new (for me) digital painting style. I look forward to seeing what sangha members are working on.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today

  28. #28
    Reading this thread made me think of an Instagram post I made this fall:

    potentialandexhaustionsmall.jpeg
    Potential and Exhaustion; my two states of being.

    Thank you for starting this discussion Daizan, I appreciated reading this thread because it refers to something I am still learning myself, and something I'll likely have to continuously re-learn as circumstances change. I've been a practicing artist for 8 years since completing my BFA and I'm still learning how to make art in a sustainable-way energy/emotion-wise. I was starting to figure out comfortable, healthy creative habits when I began my MFA this fall. Now it seems I'm in the storm of productivity again, one that I find dangerously draining. I hope in the months ahead that I can find a way to work consistently at this high-volume level without emptying the bucket completely.

    Sitting has helped in ways I didn't expect. Less chronic-pain, more listening and being aware of myself while I'm painting.

    I found the book "The Creative Habit" by choreographer Twyla Tharp to be helpful in my quest to create a long-term practice of creativity and beat that fear of the next project, fear of the ebb. https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Habi...creative+habit

    And also, "Art and Fear" https://www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Obse.../dp/0961454733

    Just for fun, I'm curious... what might the parallels be between art-making and zazen?

    ways they are alike: awareness, being in the moment, letting go...
    ways art-making is not like zazen: it can be draining in a way zazen is not, one is doing as opposed to not-doing, in a lot of art-making one has the expectation of a result...

    feel free to add your own...

    Gassho,

    Jessie
    ~sat today~

  29. #29
    For any writers out there - I recommend Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. The title sounds gimmicky, but it is actually an incredible book of essays on how he wrote his much-loved stories. He instructs budding writers (and this may apply to other art forms too) to give up trying to control the story and to let it "write itself." This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, as it's so appealing to try to map out a story fully before writing it. But I've found it to be true that the more I try to control the story, the less effective it turns out. The best writing seems to happen in a state of flow when the story is simply my fingers typing it out as it takes shape. Ironically a lot of truth comes out when writing this way, as long as the writer is willing to give up control. Bradbury kept a reminder near his typewriter saying "Don't think."

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •