How do you experience creative flow? Lisa Sonora Beam asks this on her blog. When I think about the projects I’ve been wanting to work on, I have to say I’ve been feeling really stuck. It seems they’re all in my head, the ideas, the execution, the final product. Product. There’s that word that I think is the cause of all problems. It stops me from starting. Envisioning a finished piece is a desire but also an expectation that does not outline how you’ll go about it. So I know I have to focus on process, doing the work. In Sense and Non-Sense, Maurice Merleau-Ponty said:
“Conception cannot precede execution.”
Kit White expanded on that by saying:
“Art is a process of discovery through making, and our ability to discover is generally greater than our ability to invent. Think of your work process as a form of travel. Look for the things you don’t know, the things that are revealed or inadvertently uncovered. It is easier to find a world than to make one.” (from the book 101 Things to Learn in Art School)
To discover you have to do, you can’t just stay in your head all the time. Luckily, I’ve had a little breakthrough lately. I’ve realized that in my art journal I was thinking and talking about what I wanted to do. I was doing it too much. And while through the art journaling process I’ve come to realizations, I’ve also realized I needed to move beyond the page. Finally though I was able to just start working on actual paintings.
Below is a painting I started several months ago and that went really wrong. I didn’t know what to do about it. So I put it on a top shelf, out of sight.
I dusted it off a few days ago and I’m now taking another go at it, this time allowing myself to experiment or to travel with it as Kit White says. I’ve already painted over areas I didn’t like and re-painted them over again. I’m trying to go with the flow and think of paint as an eraser as well as a colour medium.
So for me, creative flow has been a struggle between doing and not doing, getting out of my head and allowing my hand to follow. I can make myself think I am creating just because I am working in my visual journal. But I’ve been using my art journal as an excuse from moving onto new territory.