Category Archives: Catherine Foster

The Mystery of the Creative Process: By Catherine Foster (Guest Blogger)

Day 14 of 100 Days of Blogging 


The Mystery of the Creative Process
By Catherine Foster
There is an air of mystery and mysticism around the creative process. Everyone is creative. This is our birthright. I have heard it said many times over from people, “I am not creative. I can’t draw! I just do not have a creative bone in me!… etc. etc. ” The truth is everyone has creative potential and can develop their creativity.
There are many views on what the creative process actually is. Is creativity by nature spontaneous or does it consist of the original use of an accomplished technique? Several experts say that the steps to the creative process are:
1. Preparation
2. Incubation
3. Illumination
4. Implementation
Can the creative process be different for different people? I truly believe that there are aspects of the creative process that are the same for a writer, a dancer, singer, song writer, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor, painter and even a computer software designer. We each may have a little different process of the order in which we experience this adventure.
This is a diagram from Elizabeth King which is a wonderful demonstration of the artists creative process:

Truthfully, I can only speak from my own experience of 37+ years as an artist, expressive arts coach, experimental artist, and energy healer. This is the typical creative process I go through:
1. Illumination: There is a spark that is ignited within me. Sometimes it is a vision, a dream, a meditation or a desire to express a particular emotion. Often there is a link to an ongoing thought process as in a series I work on. “The Fabric of Life”series
or my “Peace Prevails Project” are just two examples.
2. Opening up to Possibilities: Other times my creative process is just a desire to experience joy and fun. Whether I am doing something that is representational, or a piece that is more abstract, it seems that I always start out loose with more free flowing color and designs.
This does not fit the typical step advised by “experts” in the creative process. More and more as an artist and energy healer, I find great joy in this step as I experiment with bringing up emotions to clear as I paint with my fingers on a wood surface. There is an aspect of surprise as to what a feeling looks like is both perplexing and exciting when the end result is viewed.
3. Incubation: There are times that the incubation step does apply. For years I have been incubating artworks I plan on creating before I leave this world. Part of my joy in the creative process is letting my mind go and allow the imagination take over. When the time is right, the energy propels me into action to physically create the artwork.
4. The preparation step is exciting and fun for me as an exercise mind mapping. The “how do I take a vision or idea into the physical”? There is often a lot of trial and error where I research what is needed to accomplish the imagery or vision. Sometimes it means talking with other artists, asking questions, and picking the brain of my engineer husband to collaborate with me. The process of letting the brain work out different ideas, mediums to use in order to create the effect that I see in my head is an adventurous journey.
5. Flexible : Often the creative process can take one on new roads during the physical creation. I call this step being in the moment and flowing with what the artwork truly wants. This requires listening within instead of letting the ego determine what needs to be created. There is ongoing internal conversation with the artwork. Sounds maybe strange, but yes if I listen to the art as it is being created it will tell me what it wants. Whenever I try to make the art become what I think it should be, it ends up a disaster, but if I let myself follow that inner dialogue, the creation is successful. The artworks where I paint with my fingers directly with paint on the canvas, is this same process. It encompasses feeling the energy of an emotion, letting the energy build and then flow out through my hands being flexible and open to what wants to be expressed. Example of X-perimental
My process incorporates working with energy, praying, singing, dancing, especially in the first step.  This is typical of my creative process in the artwork whether it is for myself or a client for a commissioned piece. As the artwork progresses, I usually tighten up on the piece with the detail at the end of the creative process. 
(Video: Step One-painting on metal-Catherine Foster)
Writing this blog is a creative adventure in using more of the left side of my brain than the right side. The process is similar though to the steps above as I started out loose and then tightened up the verbiage at the end. I just found myself doing the steps in a little different order than listed above.
In completion, my curious mind would love to hear what your creative process is. Is yours similar to mine or you have a different process you go through. 
Please comment on what your adventure in creativity is.
Thank you, Catherine Foster