By Wendy P. Jones
Much of the focus of art is on the work itself: techniques used, messages conveyed, the impact of the piece, its overall appeal. That’s all well and good, but what interests me the most is the creative process. Because it’s in the making, not simply in the final product, that the magic happens.
The Power in Creating
Art offers the viewer insight, perspective, color, emotional connection, visual satisfaction. But creators know that the act of making the piece also bestows gifts upon the artist:
Sharpened Observation. In order to create something that resonates, the maker must pay close attention to the world around her. She finds beauty in the ordinary, explores nuance, sees the parts that make up the whole. She knows that things aren’t always what they appear.
For instance, white clouds aren’t just white. They can contain multiple colors: blue, pink, gray, gold, purple, yellow, and orange. If you look closely at the white clouds below, you’ll see that there is very little white in them.
The artist also sees the shapes around the object. For instance, a watercolor artist painting the cloud scene below would start by painting the shapes around the clouds and then bring faint colors into the white spaces to create depth and shadows within the clouds.
Empowerment. The act of creating provides an artist with an opportunity to find her voice and express it in a unique way. Artists learn to tune out inward or outward voices that try to persuade them to follow a script—they know that producing worthwhile art is only possible if they give themselves permission to use their voice. As for the result, people will either like it or won’t—to me, approval and acclaim are far less important than the artist tapping into her creative essence. Artists put themselves out there, and that’s a superpower.
Clarity. The world can sometimes feel confusing and overwhelming, especially to those who are highly sensitive. Creating provides a refuge. It can also help the artist make sense of the world, and find her place in it. When I was a greeting card maker, I’d play with different elements of a card until I found a composition and color combination that would give the emotional effect (comfort, joy, calmness) I wanted the recipient to feel. As I tested out different compositions and palettes, the pieces would start to fall into place. More often than not, I would also suddenly start to understand a problem in my life or in the world in a new way.
Problem Solving. Artists know how to fix mistakes, in art and in life. They know how to pivot and they learn to trust their ability to figure things out. They learn to stretch themselves beyond the obvious solution and to keep going until they get it right. This adaptability and growth mindset serve artists well in their creative practices and in life outside of the studio.
It’s this magic within the making process that brings me back to the studio time and time again. Because I’m not just painting a pretty picture—I’m figuring out life.