Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down.
Julia Cameron
Barry and I often approach our art in different ways. He has often conceptualised and designed it quite quickly and when we talk about it, he just goes and starts making. Me I sit and ponder for quite a while.

I have realised that I spend a lot of time in my head before actually creating. I go around and around, listen to the quiet voices, let the new connections and ideas arrive and after a while, the work can appear. I know I can't force it, it has to arrive when it is ready.

On the other hand, I also know that sitting and thinking about art is a long way away from creating and making art. I am conscious of trying to make sure that thinking time isn't an excuse for not doing; that spending the time is actually profitable and not wasteful.

Sometimes it also works to just go do something - to doodle, to draw, to splash some ink around, burn some holes, stitch some lines, just do something! In the end, I guess what Julia's saying is that if it's still in your head, it isn't yet art.

Doodling a beginning © Fiona Dempster


  1. I'm doing a high five for julia.... I remember when I read that line in 'the artists way' and YES!

    I don't relate to the idea of artist as 'genius' (which I personally think is a very masculine idea anyway...) but think of the creative process as a conversation... between ideas and materials..... and as an artist I'm mostly a conduit - the being through which these things flow and manifest..... (so I suppose I'm like the electrical wiring than a light bulb hee hee hee)

  2. ~there are do~ers and thinkers...some just take a bit longer to get where they want to be...i tend to do just so...i think often sometimes probably far to long and as you said i would probably accomplish a great deal more if i just set a foot and let fly with inspiration...but pondering is a natural way of going about ones art...and what you create in the end is always gorgeous reguardless of is liberating though to splash about without reservations or inhibitions no worries of what a piece will come to be...wonderful little doodles you've made and thoughts you've left with us to ponder!! much l♥ve and light shinig brightly upon you~

  3. Good thoughts, with all things, in this case I think finding a balance is best. Time spent up in the head can be useful, but at some point the body must become involved to make the ideas tangible and physical. I have always believed that physical movement has some sort of "releasing" effect on creativity - which is why doodling or even taking a walk sometimes loosens up an idea that has been stuck for days and suddenly it just flows. But if the hand is not ready to translate and realize the ideas, it is always better to get away from that pressure and do something else. Many times for me that "something else," however seemingly unrelated, has provided some clue to the problem, some random element that ends up making the whole piece fly. Hmm...thanks for such a thoughtful post! Be well.

  4. i like what ronnie says about genius, but i find julia problematic. isn't it all about just working? (which is what she says, over and over and over...) when i read julia i think that's so obvious! i tried her out: i did a month of morning pages, three huge and full pages daily, and found no difference in any sense, in my work, life, commitment. maybe i miss the point...

  5. Well, even your doodles are lovely! They could be a pattern for some hip & cool wallpaper. It is very interesting how each artist has their own 'process'
    I have found that if I think too much, I tend to freeze up.

  6. So interesting how everyone's process is different and also how we are each, as artist's, observers not only of the world, but of ourselves in the world. Over time we learn and relearn our own way of making and moving that creates a easy task!

    Also, in response to ronnie's comment...I must recommend a TED talk that a friend sent me the link to
    (now I'm not sure where it is!) some time back. It was Elizabeth Gilbert talking about notions of genius and the creative process. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and I'd never really heard of her until I saw this short video....I cried because it so hit home and it made me so happy to be alive and to be able to make art.
    It is a MUST SEE! If you don't find it on a search at me know. Search Elizabeth Gilbert and/or genius.

    Lovely work Fiona, and as always, so nice to read your posts!

  7. your doodling looks like Asian calligraphy. and me too... I also think, and ponder and plan before I begin working.

  8. It really is so interesting to consider all the different ways we approach things...

    Donna - it was funny how the marks just kept lining up calligraphically...I didn't intend to make them so.

    Patti - I shall go in search on TED! I like your thought that we also observe ourselves within our own process and try to understand it more... I guess the lessons keep on coming

    N- thanks - I like them too!

    Ronnie - thanks for the offering of a conversation between ideas and materials- it's such a fascinating chat somedays. Quite often you end up creating that which you hadn't planned to and its wonderful to see that 'electricity' produce light

    FW - so true - we must involve the body for the results to become tangible. Part of me would love to think one day my 'brain/head' art could be made visible because it often looks better!

    TT - many thanks for the reminders about balance and for the option of just getting up and going away and doing something else to stop trying to force things. I sometimes think I persist too long - in the faint hope that the breakthru is just around the corner if I push it hard enough! Crazy thinking!

    Jane - I agree, for me if I think toooooo much I just stop. Can't go forward. Can't go sideways. Just stopped. Not good!

    Velma - I've never really done or read Julia - just liked her quote. I figure you/she are right tho - it only happens if you keep on doing, doing, doing.

  9. I have to find my way in to my art - then it lets me know what its about, and where to go next. A balance between think and do. A dance. Sometimes, as Julia suggested - its about all I remember of the book - if all else fails go make soup or a pie. By the time I'm done chopping and dicing, I'm in a different space.
    We do observe ourselves, don't we?

  10. I tend to do a fair amount of pondering too but have to remember to begin something to get the imagination ticking..... and then ponder some more.

  11. Hi Leslie - thanks for your wisdom. It is surely a lovely dance between think and do and a shifting sands kind of thing as well. So true how sometimes letting your brain focus on some other chore or letting it just meander as you chop presents the solution. A little miracle to me. And yes; for all our 'let's make art and do it" we do observe ourselves quite a lot!

    Hi AP/Robyn - sometimes you do have to just do something and then the next thing takes off from there. I often think pieces speak or tell me what to do next as I have no idea before I begin - it's that lovely conversation Ronnie speaks of, and the dance that Leslie alludes to. So many lovely ways of describing what we do.

  12. A thought provoking post Fiona! Giving ideas and thoughts a chance to brew in our minds, but not letting the process become a creative block - that's the challenge!

  13. Jane - so true. The mystery lies in which approach works for each situation. A good reminder not to let the process become the block; the process should facilitate.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.