I feel like a fraud. How can I be working on a visual project but have no images to show for it?
I know it's a great idea to post daily updates on my Instagram stream of progress on my current project. But more often in the early stages of a project, I don't post any images at all.
At this point, my creative process takes precedence over any considerations about nurturing my fanbase.
I call this the White Skeleton stage: The bare bones of the project are precariously suspended on the gossamer threads of the original idea, but it has no flesh.
Deliberately cultivating Incubation
The White Skeleton is a necessary inhabitant of my Incubation period.
Incubation needs to take place in the dark. At this delicate juncture, the light of other people's eyes distorts my ability to see my own visions.
The work must be allowed to sprout it's tentative shoots (or wings) quietly and slowly, without the pressure of external expectation.
At this stage, I am rather like an anxious nursemaid. Or a constant gardener. I hover around my precious, making sure it has everything it needs.
A little texture on the cover, perhaps? No problem.
A session on Pinterest to fill the well? Right you are.
A treasure hunt through the scraps box to spark some cross-fertilisation? Here I go.
Dealing with the inevitable phase of Resistance
Resistance is right at home in this phase of the work. I don't have a clear idea of my direction. My Left Brain Censor is screaming for answers.
I know I have to ignore these nay-sayers and push on.
I trick myself into working.
I coax myself into working.
I drag myself into it.
I drown out Left Brain with a podcast or loud music, so Right Brain can listen to the whisper of the Muse.
I make halting, tentative, non-linear progress. Putting down abstract marks and texture here. A splash of colour there. A few stitched threads. A lot of journal-writing.
Do artist's dream in colour?
Often, the initial stages of my project has no colour either. The beginnings tend to be a lot about form and texture. While I usually have a colour palette planned, I rarely begin with it.
Maybe it was those teenage years making ceramics. Everything began monochrome. The form was all important. The colour came as a final layer.
This stage of my process is often just a white, textured surface. It's extremely hard to photograph in a way that makes it interesting for people to look at online.
You know what? It's not a bad thing.
Illumination: Discovering the Theme
Eventually there is a click.
It's a quiet moment, rather like a tense muscle finally relaxing.
I get an inkling of the the theme of the piece. The meaning beneath the seemingly-random assemblage of imagery.
"Among the collage elements I assembled the other day, are two redundant squares from my paper quilt - both predominantly green, one of a leaf, one of a tree and campo (countryside).
From this point on, my project gathers momentum. I'm still in nursemaid mode and Resistance is still making his presence felt, but I'm looking a bit more business-like. My starch is starting to rustle and I'm checking the fob watch pinned to my uniform.
This week I:
It doesn't look like too much when it's put down in a list like that.
But what it does look like, is a checklist of my process.
I've adapted my process over the years to automatically include Resistance-beating strategies, so it naturally fosters the Muse.
I know I've said it before but there is no limit to how important this is: We have to LOVE our process. We have to own our process.
Within our process lie the stepping stones across the mighty torrent of Resistance that threatens to sweep our art out of our path.
Once we tread hesitantly onto that first stone, all we need to do is keep going. One stone at a time.
How do you deal with Resistance and woo the Muse?
How have you adapted your creative process to include strategies for overcoming Resistance or fostering the Muse?
If you haven't, brainstorm ways you might.
Either way, share your thoughts in the comments ;)