What inspires? How is art made? What is the creative process?
These are the questions I sit down to write about today. A million thoughts spritz across my brain and images dance behind my eyes as I think of the answers. How might I capture some of them and put them down, here on this virtual paper? I think, today, I’d like to tell you about all of the things that go wrong.
Going wrong is a big part of the creative process. But perhaps “wrong” isn’t really the right word. It’s more like indulging in creative foibles. Spending hours on projects that have such exciting promise… until the next day, or the next week, when I realize they don’t have staying power. Sometimes they aren’t appealing visually. Sometimes I get bored with them really fast. And sometimes I can’t pull off in real life what I imagine in my head.
A while back, I decided to add “pinprick” embellishment to one of my prints. It was fun to to create something with a three-dimensional element. It was quite thrilling at first, to creatively damage my work. But the results weren’t compelling either to me or the friends I shared the prototype with. This project “went wrong”. It didn’t become a product in my shop, but it fueled my creative fires.
Just last week, inspired by a trip to the optometrist, I wanted to create intentionally blurred photographs that imitated my un-corrected vision. I was able to get decent results, but later decided that I simply preferred sharp focus aesthetically. Another attempt “gone wrong”, which exercised my creative muscles.
A few years ago, I had another crazy idea. Remembering my college days spent behind the scenes at natural history museums, I decided to head to a local nature center with my camera. You might be familiar with the results – my best-known photographic series was born that day. It didn’t last just for that day, or that week, or even that year. This particular creative foible has continued inspiring me and prompting new work for nearly five years.
It’s nearly impossible to tell beforehand which ideas will flop and which will fly. Each project has its worth, even the ones that go wrong. The attempts that didn’t bear fruit might spark future ideas. And, of course, those that succeed contribute greatly to my growth as an artist and enable me to share more beauty with the world. To succeed, an artist must take the creative leaps – sometimes over, and over, and over again.
You can read more about my creative background here.