As an artist, I appreciate what writers and other creative spirits whom I admire have said about their creative process. One particular author, Marilyn Robinson, caputures the essence of my creative process. To explain my “process,” I share her words below. Simply change her words, “writing” and “language” to “painting” and “art:”
Writing should always be exploratory. There shouldn’t be the assumption that you know ahead of time what you want to express. When you enter into the dance with language, you’ll bein to find that there’s something before, or behind, or more absolute than the thing you thought you wanted to express. And as you work, other kinds of meaning emerge than what you might have expected. It’s like wrestling with the angel: on the one hand, you feel the constraints of what can be said, but on the other hand you feel the infinite potential. There’s nothing more interesting than language and the problem of trying to beind it to your will, which you can never quite do. You can only find what it contains, which is always a surprise.
In sum, as I work, meaning emerges that may follow or depart from my inteded direction or approach. The result is unexpected. As Robinson states, it is like wrestling the angel: you are limited in what you can do, yet feel empowered by a beneficient source or power. Try as you might, using your own will and brush on canvas, you find yourself controlled, uplifted, bent, hastened, by the materials and the tools. There is always a surpise at the end.