I wanted to write a little bit about how I generate work and ideas. It begins with an exploratory phase of unfettered play with no outcome in mind. The possibilities are endless, so I have discovered the value of committing to a practice. The practice is defined by a set of rules or conditions:
'Drawing With Trees' Day 1, Walk 1, 2018
Making Art My Everyday
Intention: to make art where I am, regardless of the conditions, even if and especially if I feel like I have no time, space, equipment or ideas.
My Rules and Conditions
Rule 1 Go for a walk every-day and do something creative while you're out there (15minutes minimum) Rule 1.1 If you don't walk 7 days a week, you have not failed, focus on the positive.
Rule 2. Collect a record of what you notice. Rule 2.1 Use the same tools
The tool I chose to record observations was my phone (an 'everyday' item) to take photographs and films. The films are layered together using a 'videoblender' app to combine colours, sensory elements, and multiple times-and-places in one frame.
The resultant film-stills are influenced by the colours and weather of the seasons. Autumn and Winter colours increased the amount of mud and blue tones in the film stills, only to be replaced this Spring with a profusion of green as the leaves have unfurled.
When I get home from my walks I usually share my collected impressions on Instagram that same day. I started using the phrase 'Creativity in Motion' to describe what I was doing. This is a process-based exercise not an outcome-based exercise. The result is a profusion of material which can be developed to inform future artworks.
A sequence of films were stitched together to create 'The Wild Mother' a film I exhibited at IN THE ROUND (CAS, Andover) and the film-stills were printed in a small artists book, combined with poems (three of which appear in the film). The poems placed the work within the context of 'recovering wellbeing' (also echoed by the walking practice which is mentally, physically, and spiritually nurturant of me and my creative practice).
All this to say, a generative process that allows you to explore materials, mediums, and concepts can result in a profusion of artistic activity. (Suggestions to get you started can be found below). What we're left with is something that you can see, handle, experiment with, organise and respond to - much easier than staring at a blank page.
Similarly, whilst many of my images are artworks in their own right (such as my recent film-stills), they also function as material for further development. On their own, they function as a sensory salve shared on Instagram for busy minds and tired hearts. And they also arrive fresh and fast in the moment of making / posting / viewing.
Your Generative Practice How to get started:
In no particular order...
* Set an intention
If one doesn't pop into your head, I recommend a written stream-of-consciousness or word association game responding to one of these questions:
How do I want my creative life to feel?
What thoughts and ideas do I keep coming back to and why?
What is the smallest thing I could commit to doing for the smallest amount of time that would support my creativity?
* Let yourself be drawn to a material or object
Act on the first idea that comes into your head no matter what judgements arrives.
Then explore how many things you can do with it, using the same principles.
Recently I have used paper, thread, an app, kitchen spices, my mobile phone...
* Commit to your own conditions
Make a conscious commitment to adhering to a specific rule. For me, it was walking every day. For you it might be, filling an A4 page.
Or a full-day once a month where you do nothing but play. (If I'm honest, that was step 1 for me, way back when).
Treat it like an experiment. Remember that for an artist, rules are inspiration for interpretation. My initial drawing with trees only lasted about a week before it evolved. But I walked virtually every day for four months. That provided a structure within which to create.
Please feel free to leave your questions or experiences in the comments below.
'Making Art My Everyday' started with #drawingwithtrees which quickly dovetailed into Creativity In Motion - collecting movement, sound, and imagery on film and posting creative responses on Instagram (see below)
Maija Liepins is an artist who has been writing stream-of-consciousness poetry since she was fifteen. She practices what Jung calls 'active imagination' which is similar, but with dreams instead of words. Improvisation has led her to add sound and embodied movement to the mix.