Someone once asked me if I go to my studio every day, or do I wait until I FEEL creative. It got me thinking and I came up with an idea about my creative process. I discovered that there are three different cycles in my process: Beginning, Continuing and Completion. (This may seem oversimplified – but identifying them really helped me get more productive in my studio.) The trick for me is that each cycle requires a different type of energy. Beginning requires an energy about freedom, continuing requires faith, and completion requires an energy about healing.
So, in answer to that first question, I do go to my studio (almost) every day, regardless of how I feel. BUT, when I get to my studio, I decide what to work on depending on how I feel. So the feeling of creativity takes on many guises. Sometimes I want to try out all new things, or I have lots of active energy and feel like doing many experiments. I always have lots of extra canvases and surfaces around (even a stack of cardboard will do) and I may launch several to a dozen new underpaintings or start-up paintings in one day.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed that I have too many projects, and just want to get into a sort of meditative or hypnotic type of working state. Then I turn all my canvases around so I can’t see the images, pick one of these to work on, and just focus my attention on that one particular painting. I can stay in one spot and just concentrate. This “continuing” phase is the toughest for me. Often the work has lost its initial surprise excitement, and hasn’t yet become something cohesive, so I just need to trust and have faith that by working on it one step at a time, one area at a time, it will start to form. Therefore, this stage requires faith.
Let’s say in a typical two month period of time, 60% of my painting days are spent doing beginnings (most of my energy loves fresh starts and new experiments), 35% of my days are spent doing the “continuing” part, and only 5% does the finish. That’s the last of the three, the completion phase. This takes a very particular type of energy. On these very valuable and rare days, I can see clearly what each painting needs to make it really soar. I will give that last finishing touch to several on one day – finishing them all! Then I go out and celebrate. It’s more difficult for me to work on one painting through all its cycles by itself. For me, having lots of other paintings to work on simultaneously takes the “attachment” factor out of working on just one. And then I can put my energy to its best use. When I have a commission to paint, I will paint it all the way through, but still take breaks to play on some other ones to keep the juices flowing. I find it easiest to work on one cycle for the whole day, and not switch. For instance if I spend several hours flinging paint in a freedom engaged session of “starts” I will not be as adept on that same day to try to finish a painting or two.