The link between knowing and creating has been a topic that seems to keep recurring in my work and life lately. What do those words mean and how do they relate to each other and the way I experience my art?
Beauty Behind ©Paige Mortensen Watercolour Batik 10×14″
I know that I chose this subject because it was friendly and familiar. I was working in a new environment with the Artists’ Workshop painting group and wanted to be working on something comfortable. Keeping as many variables in the ‘knowing’ category allowed me to put my emotions into the piece creatively.
In the August 2015 Leading Edge newsletter Louise Hall included some painting tips from a workshop with Gerald Brommer. They included: ” …the four skills or levels in the process of learning to create art – technique, drawing, design and feeling. … With practise of technique, drawing and design we can do all of this automatically, and then we are free to put our feelings and spirit into our art.”
Then, I came across Laureen Marchand’s Blog post from September 9th. It was an interview with Lori-Ann Claerhout about Whims and Ideas. Laureen thinks of whims as being “like good ideas that float by.” She talked about how painting is a series of unconscious whims because, in her words, “I never know where I’m going for sure.” She goes on to say: “I think that’s how creativity works …[pause]… because you get to the point where you do know, and then you have to change it. Because, if you just kept doing what you know it would stop being creativity. It would just become a repeated action.” Lori-Ann’s interpretation of Laureen’s process was:
“It sounds a lot like you have a knowing…it is your knowing that tells you how to make it work.”
About the same time my sister asked me if I could create a piece that had been in her mind for a long time. She did send a line drawing of a tree truck, branch and circles indicating ‘fluffy birds”, mentioned charcoal and said “which somehow remind me of a card Grandma would have sent”. To most people that wouldn’t have meant anything but we always knew which birthday card came from Grandma. I pulled out the charcoal and did a quick sketch to see if I was getting her thoughts.
Now to create the watercolour batik version. I didn’t want to loose the rough tree bark created with charcoal so my next ‘whim’ was to try it in on the Ginwashi paper. I generally work from light to dark but for this piece I started boldly with the charcoal drawing. I then used the wax to seal the strong, dark areas in but left some of the looser charcoal to blend with the layers of watercolour.
This was a whole new way of working for me. Having those really dark areas from the beginning gave a totally different frame of reference for the rest of the process. Every step was one of ‘not knowing’ and yet being excited about creating the “card from Grandma” feel. I really noticed how knowing and creating were linked throughout this process.
Togetherness ©Paige Mortensen Watercolour Batik 12 x 36″
My sister hasn’t seen it in person yet but her response to the image was: “OH MY — I don’t know what to say. I want to see it in person — but I think it is pretty darn amazing!!!!! ”
How are you letting your knowing guide your creativity in art or in life?