Until I read the following passage today, I was always at a bit of a loss as to how to answer this question, a lot of people I think who are ‘creative’, tend to go a bit speechless when asked it.
Then I found that AD Hope has been able to say it much better than me.I’m reading : The New Cratylus – notes on the craft of poetry, by AD Hope. In the chapter called “poems in the making” was an explanation that is so utterly right about how I want to do a painting, that I thought I’d share it. Just replace references to poem with painting – this is very much exactly it.
“For instance, I am reading a book, listening to music, recalling a dream or simply digging in the garden or shaving before the mirror. Something triggers an idea which i recognize by the curious excitement and expectancy that marks it off from other activities, as the material for a poem – then, in a flash, or growing in a few brief seconds, the whole plan and structure and ‘feeling ‘ of a possible poem presents itself. I may make a note or start at once to compose, but once the plan is there (itself a spontaneous and unpremeditated event) the rest may be perfectly deliberate and premeditated. Usually it is only party so. As one works, more ideas, details, verbal adventures, images and rhythmical arrangements continue to well up and and will often alter the original schema or replace the original projection of feeling with another and sometimes quite different one.”
Needless to say – I don’t often shave in the mirror. but that is it. Something FLASHES and i get this excited feeling and that is it. I carry a notebook with me to quickly scribble down an idea, this is usually enough to remind me, though sometimes i look at the scribble and go ‘what the heck was i on.’ Mostly I can get the painting from that, and as I paint, it all becomes a matter of making the rest of it up as I go (colour, structure, detail, background, etc).
Here is a picture that I thought of while reading a book – it was a Murakami novel (hard boiled wonderland at the end of the world), and there were sheep-things in the book (if you’re a fan of Haruki Murakami, I don’t need to explain. If you’re not…he’s WAY worth a read but it’s often pretty surreal reading). i was musing the idea of sheep things, and then went and started to do a painting of an Australian drover, but I kind of changed the details from a realistic horse/sheep/human interaction.