Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
I’ve been thinking a lot about what empowers us to create. It’s slightly different for each of us, but one thing that artists of all kinds consistently talk about is trusting the process. What exactly does that mean?
When you first start making art, it’s a bit like feeling around in dark. You aren’t sure where you are going, and it can feel uncomfortable, but hopefully you keep pushing on because you have to get where you are going. The problem is that sometimes staying present with the unknown can seem overwhelming and people give up before they’ve even begun.
This leads me to my point about the similarities between art and coffee. One thing I know about a good art process is that it’s a lot like a delicious cup of coffee: it needs time to percolate. Developing your own art process can’t be rushed. When’s the last time you threw some coffee grounds in your mug and chugged it down? (Are you envisioning the coughing fit sending coffee grounds flying through the air like I am?) Or when have you put a scoop of coffee beans in your cup and then poured cold water over it? You would never expect this to make coffee.
Take time to get to know your art process. Let it be like a delicious cup of joe, something you savor throughout the process as you grind the beans, fill the coffee pot with ground coffee and water, wait for it to brew, and then add in the accompaniments that please you most. When you first started drinking coffee, you had to experiment to see if you liked your coffee black, or with sugar, cream, or milk, or if you preferred a skinny grande latte double shot with single pump of vanilla. (Whoa, I think I’d be vibrating all day if I drank that!) But unlike hitting the drive through of your local Starbucks for your am cuppa, there are no short cuts with your art.
There’s a ritual to our morning coffee, and your art becomes much richer when you decide to create the same kind of ritual and process around it. To do this, you have to make your art a priority. What would you be willing to let go of in order to have more creative time in your life?
I recently listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast interview with writer Glennon Doyle. She said that she realized if she wanted time to write, she needed to give up her beloved night time tv. Now she puts the kids to bed, and hits the sack at 9pm so that she can rise at 4, go to her closet desk, and write uninterrupted for a couple of hours. It’s her time, her creativity, and her self-care. Let go of tv for a week, get off the internet and social media in the mornings, or at night and make art instead. Think about where you have mindless time and reclaim it for art. If you need more help, I created this post on making time for art.
Once you sit down to create, prioritize experimenting, letting loose, and just creating for the joy of creating. Let go of the need to produce. You deserve time that is just for you to play with beautiful colors, textures, and shapes.Let your art be more about the process than it is about the product. Focus on the joy of creating for creation's sake. #maketimeforart Click To Tweet
A Key Element in My Art Process: Percolation
So here’s a little peek into my art process. One of the most important elements of my art process is percolation. (Yes, I do love coffee: it’s a skim latte, no sugar, no flavors. How do you take yours?) Anyway, I love to work on several art pieces at once and let them percolate. I have several percolation stations around my studio. Here’s one on top of my supply dresser.
Or sometimes I’ll put high flow acrylic paint on several pieces at once, letting my process be loose and playful, and then when they are dry, I have several to choose from. In the percolation station below, you can see that I’ve also cut up a piece with alcohol ink on Yupo paper. I’ve used these circles and rings as collage elements on other pieces. I teach my process with high flow acrylics and circles in my class Fluid Art. You can learn more about Fluid Art here, or check out a gallery of gorgeous student work here.
Letting My Art Percolate
I spent all day working on the animal print piece. The photo below shows how it looked when I stopped working before dinner. In between cooking, I kept it propped up on the kitchen table. I looking at it several times from a distance as I chopped and stirred, trying to decide what the upper right corner needed; I knew it felt too busy. After dinner, I kept it on my desk so that when I walked by, I would see it. This is a great way to let the image percolate in your unconscious.
Later that night, I realized that that corner needed to get a bit darker. After adding a wash with the Nickel Azo Gold, it felt just right. Complete. What I love about my process is that I don’t get too hung up on any one piece; I have multiple things I am creating, and I always have something in process, inviting me in. Another artist recently put it this way: working on various pieces at once is like leaving a present for your future self so you don’t have to start with a blank page. That’s so sweet, isn’t it?
How do you take your coffee? What are you learning about your art process? I’d love to hear about it!
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