Friday, August 31, 2012

The Creative Process: Confessions of an Accidental Artist

"The creative process is a process of surrender, not control." - Julia Cameron

I have a confession: the creative process does not come easily to me. In my head it's easy, I'm constantly coming up with ideas. But getting myself into the studio (otherwise know as our extra bedroom) to execute those ideas is somewhat like pulling teeth. I would describe myself as an "accidental artist": I never had the intention of being an artist, I just found myself becoming one about 6 years ago. For those who are not familiar with my story, here is an entry I wrote about how this all came about How I Became an Artist 

I think my personality, as far as a career goes, lends itself to working best in a structured environment, having clear deadlines and expectations, and being around other people. Kind of the opposite of being an artist!

I was having such a hard time getting myself into the studio today and I began to think about my creative process. Since I am relatively new to this art thing, I'm still learning about what works best for me in terms of how I create. I occasionally read about artists whose overwhelming desire to create constantly is like breathing. I am not one of those artists. However, I am aware I see the world a bit differently than others - a world of beautiful imagery and symbolism, and when I do finally get myself making art, it feels absolutely right.

So, here are the guidelines I have come up with so far about my own creative process:

- I should try to spend some time related to making art daily, even if it's just a few minutes (this does not including promoting my art on the internet or working on my etsy shop!) Getting back into the studio for me after a long break is exactly like getting back to exercising after a long break - tough!

- It's ok to work on more than one project at a time. I spend a lot time waiting for glue and paint to dry, so why not work on a few small collages at once?

A few of the collages I am working on right now

- I like to work standing up even though I have a perfectly nice chair to sit in. This is ok.

- I really hate getting glue and paint on my hands (figures I make collages!) I must keep a pack of baby wipes nearby otherwise the glue is impossible to wash off later.

- Frequent breaks are a good thing. I am much more productive and enjoy myself more when I take lots of small breaks rather than try to work straight through on a project.

Art Assistant Carmela takes frequent breaks

- Any art I create must have meaning to me. Oh the ideas I've come up with that would probably get me a lot more sales on Etsy! But I ...just...can't. My heart goes into everything I make and I really need it to have some meaning or relevance - even if it's tiny. And that's ok too.

I would love to hear anyone else's ideas about the creative process and what gets you going!


  1. Can you use latex or vinyl gloves when you glue? I use them when I do my mosaic lamps and shades. I know that decoupage is like a second skin to peel off.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion Julie. I do have great gloves that I wear for a lot of things like some painting/gluing and applying ink with my fingers, but when it comes to gluing tiny pieces I can't really do it with the gloves on. The baby wipes work great though if you wipe the glue off right away - otherwise it's impossible!

  2. Thank you for writing about creative process!
    --If I go into the studio first thing in the morning that will make for a much better day than if I do something else first like check email or other business stuff.
    --I have multiple projects going at once which keeps the repetition down, and my energy up.
    --I also work standing up. It's easier to reach all my little dishes of glass from a standing position, as well as cutting and gluing.
    --I need to do something about glue. I've adapted to glue on my hands, but lately I've noticed all my clothes have glue spots that don't wash out, and an apron is in my future.
    --If I get into a self-critical mode, I avoid the studio. If I go in and make something, in spite of the critical voice, I can get absorbed into the materials and colors and expression of my heart.

    1. Thanks for your reply Margaret! I found your comments very insightful and interesting. I just wear my oldest clothes when I create - I'm always covered in paint and glue!
      The post was actually really helpful for me to write - I have found that thinking about my creative process in this way has made me more aware of how I work best and I have actually been more productive the last few days!

  3. I really enjoyed your post, and reading about your creative process. I always find it interesting to hear about the process artists go through to come up with their finished product. I personally have to pull out a variety of materials to get inspired, and once I start creating it's hard to stop.
    Everyday Inspired

  4. It's interesting to learn how the creative process works for you. Me? I have lots of ideas--so many, in fact, that I don't where to start. And then that becomes the barrier to getting started.

    1. I can totally relate to that one Judy - Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all my ideas and then I can't get started!

  5. The creative process is as flexible as the scientific method... Neither are written in stone. I enjoyed hearing about your process