Art Practice: Meditation Versus Action

Where do ideas and art come from anyway? It’s all well and good to talk about ‘artistic process’ in an abstract fashion but it really is all about doing something – anything – and then doing something else. Progress in process is all in the doing.

So what happens when you spend more time conceptualising than creating? Well often you’ll have an amazingly impressive idea inside your head that you may never be able to realise. Chances are you’ll be reluctant to start because you sense this gap. You may be so hung up on the idea you have that you’re reluctant to follow the art down new and exciting rabbit holes of possibility.

Oh and before we go any further I want to stress that this is something I suffer from too so I’m not pointing the finger. But to illustrate the point here is a small segment of an interview I did with MGPhenom (Matt Elwood) about his then NaNoWriMo project. It was going to be a novel and a movie script and he had made DVD cover art and plot synopsis and character analysis but was still struggling to write ‘chapter one, word one.’

Now compare that approach with this Jim Cogswell’s comments about creating a painting.

Jim Cogswell:

It’s about ‘where do ideas come from?’ You don’t come up with a painting by thinking of what you want to do. You come up with a painting by taking a step and then reacting to that and then reacting to that.

It can be challenging. I know I want to be a more intuitive artist but frankly I often find my planned out works more personally fulfilling. I’m trying to actually alternate between planned actions and spontaneous flourishes – one careful drawing followed by a wild abstract painting. I’m hoping by alternating between these I’ll develop a greater skill set over time.

How would you describe your approach to creating?

2 comments… add one
  • I like to see where things go without a plan for as long as I can when I’m writing a first draft. Usually it’s about the halfway point where I feel like I need to pull back and start planning and outlining. This time, I got further in than usual without a plan. I am thinking I may well get through the whole story without any outlining or plotting sessions. But I’m already worried that revision will be harder because i didn’t plan ahead.

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