Creative Small Talk


'Creative Small Talk'

Visual artists often describe their process as a conversation between themselves and their materials. It’s a very intimate conversation, but I think the materials are actually more like a vehicle for connecting with those parts of ourselves that can’t easily be accessed by words alone.

Contrary to what some might think, committed artists don't just walk into their studios and fall into the arms of their muse. For me at least, it just ain’t so. Artists who’ve dedicated their lives to their art understand that if you wait around for inspiration to strike before you start, you’ll be screwed more often than not – and not in a good way. Don't get me wrong, inspiration does strike unexpectedly like a bolt from the heavens, but for me, it shows up more  more frequently when I set the stage and invite it in the way I would a lover. Don’t get nervous, that’s as far as I’ll take the analogy.

On more than a few days, I’ve walked into the studio and just wasn’t “feeling it".  On those days, I use the prep-work part of my process as a kind of creative small talk between me and my materials (or my muse). My prep-work involves doing things like cutting metal for a sculpture or preparing wood panels for a painting. While integral to my art making, these aren't commonly thought of as strictly “creative” activities. Still, stepping into them mindfully sends up a flashing Batman-type signal letting inspiration know it’s help is needed.  

Once my body is involved in the process, my creativity or muse (call it what like) is usually not far behind. I think of it like talking about the weather in social settings. The prep-work serves as an icebreaker of sorts. It increases my likelihood for having one of those juicy, precious conversations I yearn to have with my creative muse.