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My Creative Process

I began working toward an advanced degree because I am not content to be relegated to retirement. I want to be a productive artist and my art to define who I am. During my first grad school studio course, I was challenged to look at other’s art to find out what contemporaries are doing. I saw this as research to discover what I didn’t want to do. I do not want to duplicate the work of others. I want to create things are uniquely mine. However, I listened and realized the process is about discovery. I began using the internet to follow artists from around the world. I compare my work to theirs. I see this as a two-way process getting feedback on my work while learning from others. I was encouraged to search for a breakthrough.

I reviewed my discussion notes and compared them to my personal steps. I found that for the most part, my work usually follows the five-step model with occasional overlap and revisiting previous steps. Additionally, I reviewed other online models. In most cases, these proved to be basically the same process either splitting, modifying or eliminating steps. One discarded evaluation, while another excluded execution and added elaboration.

I find that the preparation and incubation stages become entwined. I look at the works of contemporaries and I use my own historical experiences whether from a course of study or studio activity. I often review works of artists that have influenced my work. Insight is the most important part of my process. I envision the finished work of art and begin planning. I like to use my quiet time to develop ideas. This is often while driving to and from work or early mornings before the alarm goes off. I usually work through a project from start to finish, visualizing each step in my head. I ask myself questions about materials, processes and how to mold them into a cohesive work of art. Will this work? What if I did this or that? At times, I will sketch ideas but often, draw directly on a canvas. Once the process is worked out, the execution stage begins. I find this is the most rewarding part of making art, particularly when it turns out as I thought it would or if it exceeds my expectations. It usually takes less time to execute the piece than to develop it. If something does not work as I had envisioned, I will revisit my steps. I know many artists use notes or sketches and follow the same process every time they make art. I never really thought about a sequence of steps or mapping what I do. This assignment forces me to actually think about my methods. I learned that I really do follow a process and repeat it as necessary in the production of subsequent works.

Being around like-minded people is very important. I find it is helpful to exchange ideas and get their feedback. Talking with others that share my passion is an essential part of preparing to make art. The availability of time to make art is most precious. Because I work as a public-school art teacher in a large school district, I have a great number of contemporaries with similar problems. I have heard others say they cannot make art because teaching takes most of their time. It is true, we have a limited amount of time to do everything. However, my district wants working artists that teach instead of art teachers. We must make time for art. We are encouraged to make art in our classes. There is no better substitute than visual and verbal communication. I share my art with students and making art is part of my teaching method. Differentiation is required and I cater to all types of learners. Intuitive and analytical thinking is a way to categorize people as two different types. In reality, people are capable of both with varying levels of logic and intuition, linear thinking and imagination. I must consider the balance between the intuitive and analytical every day in those that I teach. My classes include several Gifted, Special Education and English Second Language learners which alters to my creative process.

My ideas come from personal experience, looking at art, and nature. When an idea is prominent in my thoughts and will not leave, I think it is worth developing. Throughout the process of producing a work of art, I self-evaluate and I solicit feedback by showing it to others. If it seems to evoke a reaction good or bad, and if I like the results, I may further develop similar pieces into a series. To create a series, I will continue moving forward, developing ideas that seem to have the most merit and discarding those that do not. If I get stuck I will put the piece away and work on something else for a while. This break often results in a renewed desire to return and complete the work. It also provides a time to reflect on areas of concern and find ways to resolve them.

The creative process applies to everything from cooking to invention. The subject may differ but the formula is the same for a chef, scientist or artist. The quest may vary but whether it is about assembly, inventing, composing, preparing or making, nothing is accomplished without a plan. It is about discovery or the desire to make, what to do, how to do it, was it good or bad, what was learned and would/could you do it again.

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