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In hot pursuit of creativity

February 15, 2015
A small oil pastel drawing title "After Edvard Munch"

After Edvard Munch – small oil pastel

Creativity is a hot topic these days—the research, the experience, and, definitely, the practice of it. I’m as eager as anyone to learn more, but for me, I just want some insight into understanding it better as a way to implement it in making art and in making life.

If I make being creative a goal, I end up looking for new ways to make marks and put paint (and other stuff) on a canvas, just using different as the criterion. Now that can be provocative, and can suggest a new idea or two to incorporate into a piece, but it may have nothing to do with what inspires me to make art in the first place (a sense of hidden spaces).

So I have to moderate my enthusiasm, and while I am in the midst of contemplating possibilities, I’m stuck by a recent review in The New Yorker by Peter Schjeldahl, art critic, in which he makes a couple of provocative statements about a show at MOMA.

He says:

 “…painting has lost symbolic force and function in a culture of promiscuous knowledge and glutting information.”


“The show [at MOMA] broadcasts the news that substantial newness in painting is obsolete.”

Yikes. Perhaps creativity [or a new approach?] is dead! How do I overcome promiscuous knowledge and glutting information? And how do these obstacles interfere with newness [re: creativity]?

Putting Mr. Schjedlahl aside, here’s my take: I think creativity is best described in retrospect and not necessarily as a good goal. I do think it’s helpful to read about creativity, think about it a bit, be open to suggestion on ways to achieve it. But then you’d best leave it behind so that is doesn’t become a means of comparison for everything that you do. My other thought is to rein in the scope a bit, and instead of a global reference for how creative I am (ie., that culture of too much information), perhaps I could just look regionally…or locally? Or not at all.


If you’re feeling a little stuck, here’s an exercise from a workshop I attended recently, MAKING THE LEAP, in Las Cruces, NM—put on by two fabulous artists: Nancy Frost Begin and Susan Hanssen. Make a collage (this is quick, using either tape or glue stick and torn or cut pieces from magazines, etc.); then make a painting using the collage as a reference.

Examples of collage to painting



Collage 1 (top left) and painting from the collage (top right)

Collage 2 (bottom left) and painting from the collage (bottom right)

All of these pieces are approximately 12 x 12 and the paintings are acrylic on paper.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. sweepy62 permalink
    February 23, 2015 10:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Abstract Art My Passion..


  2. February 16, 2015 6:12 am

    Pay no heed to the jaded art critic. That snob just has an agenda and an axe to grind. Painting’s symbolic force and function is renewed every time an new individual finds a way to express their own voice.


    • February 17, 2015 11:03 pm

      So true! I do have to say that I loved reading Schjeldahl’s article because it was so cleverly written. But then I think that’s part of the problem–it’s disguising the fact that there isn’t much meat below the delightful wording.

      Liked by 1 person

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