Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Notes on Creating....

This is not mine. I read it on Becci Renfro's page over on Julie's site. It was originally seen here. But this really hit home and with so many people having problems being creative and asking me how I keep my momentum going I thought this might help. Several of these are really so important to remember.

Notes on Making Art by Sven Bonnichsen

I've been influenced by Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" and also Philip Sylvester at the Drawing Studio -- but I feel like I'm really beginning to get a grip of my own on the creative process and wanted to take some quick notes.

1. Quality through quantity. Don't get hung up on making this one piece good -- make ten and one will certainly be pretty good.

2. Do NOT mix generating and editing. When you're making a piece, don't stop and get judgmental half-way through. If it's a piece of crap, get that piece of crap out of your system -- don't try to fix it mid-flow. Finish it, move on.

3. When to judge: After you've completed a piece, look at it and decide what direction you want to go in next. Or if you're selecting pieces for submission to a show, apply your critiquing mind then. Make a piece of art; look at it; make another.

4. Don't be afraid to re-use elements. If each piece has to be unique, then you're going to get hung-up when you create some bit that you like. But if you can re-use bits, then you can keep moving.

5. How to have "lots of ideas": permute. Start anywhere. Once a piece is done, try varying some aspect. Think of all the variables that could have permutations.

6. "Get through your first 50 failures as fast as you can." I don't think that we should be shooting for a place where we no longer make crappy art. A good artist is one who's in motion making lots of art -- you only think they're so much better because they produce so much quantity that their pile of "good art" has also been able to accumulate. For every piece of crap you create, you're one step closer to getting something you really like.

7. Don't even bother "fixing" pieces. Making art shouldn't be a struggle. You're simply "thinking out loud" onto the page, photo-paper, or canvas. If a product seems confused, leave it confused. Make another piece where you contemplate whatever issues you were wrestling with. Try something different. When clarity arrives, it will come in one living piece -- not be Frankensteined together out of a single infinitely re-worked, mangled corpse.

8. Work fast. Creativity is exciting. If you're not judging while you're making, then you can just throw things together as fast as your mind can move. You're smart; if you don't like what you've made, you'll know immediately. You might not know what to do about the problem you perceive... Don't "think", standing there cogitating -- try things. If your hands are in motion, you can be generating new permutations. The one that you want to pick will come out on its own time.

9. Let your level show. Let the world know that despite having years of investment in your art form, you're still a beginner who doesn't know it all. Rather than hide your thought process, let your questions be present in your work. You are a fundamentally more interesting artist if people get to see what it is that you're struggling with, rather than just your final answers. Show your work. Talk about what you still can't understand (unapologetically).

10. Don't hide your failures. If you are only willing to show those perfect pieces that you are aspiring towards, you're never going to display / publish your work. Show everything, the worst of the crap included, and let your ego be humbled -- and goaded to create more.


This is a bit like what I've been doing lately. Yes, I'm doing a page a day in my art journal and they aren't all fantastic....but I share them anyway. I'm human. I can make some good stuff but I can also make some crap! If I only showed you the good stuff then that wouldn't be honest and fair.

And I'm participating in the 30 day art challenge....same thing. I don't create a winner every day. Some days I just create something, anything, just to keep myself doing art. I don't fool myself. They aren't all hits. There are a lot of misses mixed in there but that's ok. If I don't try I'll never learn. When I read this piece I thought how smart Sven Bonnichsen is! This is an excellent list of things to keep in mind when you're creating. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I'll be back later with my journal pages and 30 day art but I'll leave you with what I did in Julie's class yesterday. I'm very happy with it....

You should be able to click it to make it bigger. It says "my eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected."


  1. Wow Janet, those are great, it all makes so much sense doesn't it? Thanks for sharing them. The piece you did yesterday is very moving, deep and intense. I like it a lot. Have a great w/e. Tell that wind to go fly a kite somewhere else!

  2. Aloha Janet..
    I've been creative, but just don't *feel* they are right for posting..
    I do love your journal pages, they are innovative and bright, a pleasure to look at and explore the details of you creating them..
    peace Kai

  3. Keeping our heads on straight is the hardest thing we have to do in life, I believe. These are steps to self actualizing. Good for you for reaching toward your goal.

  4. That Sven sure makes a lot of sense to me--thanks for passing it on.

  5. Janet
    Thank you for this. The reason I don't do/share much art anymore is because I don't think it's good.
    I have copied this and emailed it to myself
    Maybe this struggling artist will emerge again.

  6. These are really wonderful suggestions. The one that I try to do more of now is to "work fast", to just let it flow and DON'T THINK too much...I find as soon as I start to critique something I'm doing, I lose my creativity...ZAP! It's gone, so I try to just let it be...the only thing that I don't like, is ending up with stuff I make and don't know what to do with it!!!! LOL Thanks Janet for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing. It makes perfect sense. Also I love the piece you did. It is beautiful.. I hope she has that class again, maybe I can try the class.

  8. That was excellent and really made me think. Love the layer piece! Your art is always great to me!!!

  9. I am one that can get stuck on one thing...this was really good to read. Love all that you do!
    Hugs, Mary

  10. I find it very hard to show stuff that I'm not happy with, because I'm a perfectionist - but I have done it in the past because I know in my heart that there is no such thing as perfection and we all need to share our humanity - which is also not perfect.

    I've got had that original piece bookmarked for a long time and it is very inspiring and has been useful to me many times. Thank you for posting it so that I could re-read it as seen through someone else's eyes.

  11. I know you wrote this out for me! LOL I sure need to hear these words of advice! thank you! You are an inspiration to me!

  12. Janet, the green piece really takes my breath away and the words are almost mystical.

  13. Wonderful post, Janet....we are our own worst critics so some of these points are very helpful. I so like your attitude!

    Btw, your painting background is very similar to one that my daughter, Michelle, did for an Art piece in high school....she also went with a green background done in the tunnel effect. Great minds think alike, huh?! Michelle received an Award of Excellence for her artwork in high school.

    I remember a time when you felt like you weren't creative and had nothing to blog was there then and it's there now...I think you just needed to build some confidence.....YOU ROCK, GIRL!!!

  14. I like the eyes that are an ocean!!! Good work!

  15. Just catching up with your wonderful work. Great stuff Janet. Here you thought you couldn't do it!

    Number 4 is my biggest hang up.

  16. I really like the art here Janet. It reminds me of those photos you see where the photog. is under the water and above the sun in shining onto the water.

  17. These are outstanding. I think I'll print them out and hang them on my studio wall. Thanks for including them -- sounds like a great time! Loved your piece!

  18. this stuff is great--I know I need reminding often...


Thanks for taking the time to visit me and for leaving a comment. I appreciate each and every comment and will answer any questions via email. Otherwise I will respond to your comments with comments of my own on your blog. I love the blogging community!!