Through making art as part of my lifestyle, I see recurring stages in the creative process. It has helped me to see these stages happening so I can stay in the flow and move through the harder parts of the process. These steps translate to many creative areas in my life: business, relationships, fitness, yoga and meditation.
1. Ideas and inspiration – this part is easy! There are so many possibilities and inspiration feels uplifting overall. If I have a block about what to make, it is important to choose something to do even if it is a compromise. You can always do another painting. I usually save inspiring images on my phone or hang them around my studio for my later projects.
2. Begin the project – This can be challenging because the vastness of inspiration is being funneled into something concrete. Over time, I have learned how to begin a project to the point that this has a flow. It is just one step at a time:
a. Gather supplies and references
b. Sketch and transfer images
c. Paint flat colors in the painting – this part is so fast and gratifying!
3. Development and refinement – Definitely the uphill part of the process! Usually, I don’t already have the skills to do what I envision, so I have to learn and earn those skills. The first part of this process is somewhat grueling, and then as the skills become stronger, the process accelerates and is easier to complete. In general, I paint from the background to the foreground. This generates momentum because the background is usually larger than the foreground. Also, I am usually more excited about painting the subject or foreground: it is like eating your veggies and having dessert later. :)
4. Refinement and completion – This phase usually has a downhill momentum as the steps that need to be completed are clear. Details often take more time than I was expecting, but it is a clear process. For me, finishing a painting is usually quick and anti-climactic in a good way.
5. Hang and enjoy – Now you get to live with the art! Or give it to someone else to live with. It has a life of its own. I will usually notice things that can be improved, but I try to relax with this saying: “finished, not perfect.” The creative energy of this process lives in the painting and inspires the next wave in my life.
How do you experience creative process in your life?