The creative process

“You’re so creative.”

I get that one a lot. Or, “You have so much talent.” Or worse, “You’re so gifted.” These declarations are made as complements of course, but buried within all of them is an inference, the suggestion that the ability to make art just comes naturally. All a creative person does, the thinking goes, is let that inborn talent flow and wonderful things happen. And the truth is there might actually be artists for whom it all comes easily. I don’t know any myself, but I suppose there are savants in every field. Not most of us though; not me anyway. I find art-making hard work, and I study the field, and think an awful lot about what I do. There are false starts and periods of frustration in the creative process.

I mention this because I am working now on what might be my last piece from my Divine Beauty series, certainly my last major work in that group. (I’ll be putting more images from that series on my website soon.) It’s a large altarpiece, maybe seven or eight feet tall and twelve feet wide, in three panels. I plan to have the panels fold shut like altarpieces often do, so there is some fabrication involved. I’ve been researching altarpiece themes and compositions. I’m also looking through hundreds of found fashion images for ones that will work for this piece. I’m pretty jazzed about it. This will be the most complicated work from the series, and if all goes well it will see its premier at the Beyond-In Western New York exhibition next September (see exhibition dates and locations to the right).

Meantime I’m also deciding what I’m going to do next. The problem isn’t thinking of an idea. Ideas come and go like fleeting moments of sunshine between clouds in a gray Buffalo sky. The problem is settling on one idea that I’m willing to spend the next couple of years exploring. I’m leaning toward something less defined than many of my earlier series. I have more freedom to experiment now that I am not teaching. I want to move away from dependence on found images, but that presents its own problems for a conceptually based representational artist. I’m in the gestation stage now, and it’s not coming easy. Coincidentally, I just saw Fellini’s 8½, which is a movie about a director who is creatively blocked while trying to think what movie to make next. I could relate.