Posted By on Nov 28, 2011 | 0 comments

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The Creative Process: What An Artist Can Teach Us

I was at an art gallery this week doing some research for a program we are running. I absolutely love spending time in galleries. I find them so inspiring not only as an artist but also for the sheer amount of self-expression that you see. We were all created with the ability and need to express ourselves (but that is another post)

I came across this explanation of the inspiration of a Jeffrey Smart painting Central Station II and I thought it really summed up the creative process well. His words about the background to the painting were: “In the morning, a friend took me for a tour around those strange parts – strange architecturally – in Sydney. We went to Glebe, Annandale….. then Balmain and the houses on the water there, and Leichardt finally. By this time my imagination was stirred to such an extent that when Michael Ramsden, who drove, stopped near Central Station to run off and buy a paper, I saw him and those hoardings in such a way that I thought I should like to have it forever…it was a moment of hallucinatory beauty”.

The notes for the painting went on to say ‘Returning to the spot early the next morning, Smart made a number of sketches and drawings from which he developed the final painting when he returned to Italy’

 Smart stirred his creativity that day. He stirred it mightily and then most importantly, he went and acted on it. How did he stir it?

  • He really opened his eyes to all that was around him.
  • He thought about the world around him in a different way. We could even say his thinking/actions was out of the box (or out of the studio).
  • He provided his mind with a whole load of stimulus and freshness. He didn’t just look at one building. He looked at loads.
  • He moved. He didn’t restrict his stimulus to a conversation, a text book or a meeting room. He moved and engaged with his environment.
  • All of these things stirred his imagination. Importantly, he was open to it being stirred. He was open to being inspired. He was a sponge ready to soak it all up.
  • He then did something about it. He could have so easily not gone back in the morning. He would have had to change his plans, miss appointments etc. but he went and did it and harnessed his creative drive at the moment.

For me, it sums up the creative process really well. You have to allow your imagination to be stirred. You do that by engaging with the environment around you, really looking, being open to seeing possibilities and most importantly, you have to act on it immediately or life takes over and it is forgotten.

The creative process is fluid, changing and different for everyone. There is no “my way or the highway approach” but ask yourself – ‘When was your imagination stirred to such an extent that you had to run off and do something about it then and there?’



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