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What is Artistic Process?

I have seemingly little “down time” to think about my own artistic process. This month we are living in Florida and away from the distractions of work, family, and responsibilities of keeping a home. The hiatus has provided me time to consider this question.

When I went in search of a definition I came across the following: Artistic process is:

A succession of states, steps, stages, through which the human evolves together with artistic phenomenon, characterized in two ways: as an external action, through the sequence of steps of artistic activity (creation, reception, interpretation, listening, etc.); and as the inner action in the succession of states and inner experiences of artistic activity.

My process began as a curiosity about using a technique that I had not considered using in a very long time. My curiosity was sparked by a painting posted on-line that a friend had created. Karen had started the painting used plastic wrap over wet watercolor. I remembered that this technique was engaging and usually provided unintended textures and shapes that were fun and challenging to work with. So I began to play. I laid down juicy wet colors, covered my paper with scrunched plastic wrap, put the paper with plastic wrap under some weight and let it dry overnight. Not peeking was hard!

Step One

My curiosity led to the engagement of my imagination. What did I see on this paper? What could I create? Interpret? I began to see leaves and vines which started me on the path to moving towards a grape vine? A vine of morning glories? I listened to myself posing the questions about the possibilities.

Step Two

Engaging external action, I began to develop leaf shapes based on images of grape vines I had photographed many summers ago. Deciding what would be in front, behind became a time spent with problem solving and creative thinking. I went with my intuition and conjured up my past experiences of drawing vines and foliage. I referenced my photographs.

Step Three

Getting stuck on the leaf shapes I moved into adding some clumps of grapes. Moving from grape shapes to leaf shapes bounced me around the painting. Revision, problem solving, critical thinking was all part of the morning of painting. I went back to external action, lifting color, glazing, deepening values, adding texture with my brush.

Step Four

More grapes, more values, more leaves as I continued to paint. Stopping to critique what I was doing. Keeping my inner critic at bay so I could just “go for it.” I found myself going between external and internal actions. Back and forth, push and pull.

Close to Completion

This is where I have stopped. Maybe I am done, but maybe not. Before I add my signature to the painting it sits on the drawing board and I revisit with my editing eye and with a comparison of the work to my intent.

And the process will begin again with that one wonderful word….Curiosity!

Thanks for reading!