Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Creative Process Need Processing?

They say, “just begin at the beginning”, unfortunately it’s not always that easy. Frankly, we don’t always know where to begin, and how to move forward. For example, I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I knew I wanted to talk about my experience of being creative and in "process" over the last two weeks, but I struggle with knowing what I want to say about it.

So, let me just start in the middle. I’m in process, my space is a mess, ideas emerge with fits and starts, I find myself elated, frustrated and filled with doubt from moment to moment; each laying of a color or collage takes me through an emotional roller coaster. The sad part is that I’m only working on a piece that’s 2’x3’, and made solely for my own edification and “movement through” a previously turbulent two weeks. WTF?

International Soul Art Day work in progress

It’s amazing to me how connected and committed I can be to “creative expression” and “process” while simultaneously embracing doubt, fear, resistance and an inner struggle. What’s up with that? Does it ever stop? *Sigh… I don’t know.

Sometimes I wonder why creating can feel painful and sad, and yet such tremendous wisdom can be gleaned during and after the process. And then there's the shear joy and elation that comes with a product that pleases – it's the proverbial “cherry” or “icing”.

“Hallalujah!” I shout, triumphant over my creative passage; it’s done – until the next blank canvas, music score, or journal page beckons. “Why do I do this to myself?“ I wonder.

I know the answer, I just don’t want to admit it.

I like the emotion-filled, unpredictable, “getting my hands dirty” feeling that comes from being fully engaged and committed to “playing” and expressing myself creatively – even if it means being deeply moved and impacted in unexpected ways – even if it means experiencing profound feelings that I can’t articulate, and sometimes have trouble sitting with. Does that make me a masochist?

I also struggle with the frivolity of it all – how can I rationalize cutting, pasting, gluing, coloring, and playing with Styrofoam, buttons, glitter, mosaic tiles, affirmations, and whatever else crosses my path? “Seriously? That’s how you spent your day?” my critic roars, incredulous.

Whoa Nelly…
my messy workspace

I find myself repeatedly taking deep breaths, holding onto the armrests of my chair for dear life. "Can I do this?" I ask myself. "I can do this." I tell myself.  I LOVE to do this!  (despite appearances). I feel better when I do this. My life is more meaningful because of doing this.

Ok… (deep breath) now let’s continue, I’m not done. I’m still in the middle of it, scrap papers strewn haphazardly around me, paint brushes floating in dirty water, creative ideas that I haven’t glued down yet, but keep assessing for their “artistic” contribution. My art supplies lie splayed out, scattered in a frenzied whirlwind of possibility. And me, I sit as the eye of the storm, pleased to be in the middle of it!

How about you? What’s your creative process like?


  1. Wow, I love the energy of this post! Your description of really being in the flow of creative process is fantastic and spot on. As for why to do what you do? Because being creative is our gift to the world, and it is a gift that needs to be fed and kept in working order. And that's what you're doing--clearing and ordering your thoughts and feeding your gift. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Kim Thanks for the encouragement! I hope you were inspired as well. I'd love to hear about your creative process!

  3. I carve fruit. Yep, I do. I started as a therapy to reduce anxiety and depression from post traumatic stress disorder. I am a free hand carver, meaning I don't use templates. I do most of my carvings in public. I find that if I am around negative energy, my carvings suffer. When the person(s)around me has positive vibes, my most beautiful designs are born.

    When I am alone, I can easily conjure the positive vibrations.

    Below is my latest centerpiece. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Carl, love this centerpiece. How fun is that! Thank you so much for sharing what you do to engage your inner wisdom! Love to hear about your process as well, and the need for "positive vibes" when around others vs. the negative!

      I think it's terrific that you can "easily conjure positive vibrations" when alone. That speaks volumes. Again, thank you for sharing!

  4. Amazing Chantel! It is wonderful to see and read about how your Soul Art Day experienced unfolded and how you kept deepening your trust in your creative process.

    1. Hi Laura:
      yes, it was actually a week of unfolding. I've been dialoging with the piece since I finished it, and some amazing insights have emerged. The piece is titled "Movers and Shakers" and I realize that I have a lot going on in my life, and that focusing and centering are important. Also the idea of honoring my multifaceted personality is also important. Interestingly, I also brought in "the shadow" by painting the background in grey. Ultimately, I'm really pleased with the process and discovery! I look forward to continuing this kind of work, and doing International Soul Art Day next year!