Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Wonderland of the Creative Process

Somewhere on my recent journeys, I found a chair ... just a plain metal chair.  The seat was a pattern of holes and weathered but still brilliant paint in purples, blues and greens.  It pulled my camera out of my purse and then lingered in the back of my mind for several days before finally calling me to play in Photoshop.

I have long been fascinated by the creative process ... what starts it, where it goes and how it almost has a mind of its own.  The photo I took of the chair seat is rectangular with a mechanical pattern of metal and holes.  Rigid and static, it wanted to bend.  Photoshop is a willing, if sometimes cantankerous, servant so bend it did.  A flower form emerged.  Then sat there freed from its linear constraints but not knowing where it wanted to take its new freedom.

It rested like a magnet pulling other images toward it and then spinning them away when they turned out to be wrong.  Silently rejecting image after image, this holey-holy-wholly flower had a mind of its own.  When a spiraled nautilus shell paraded onto the page, the magnetic force snapped it into place like a puzzle piece and spun out a larger, fainter version in another part of the page.  And, then rested again.

I thought it was complete.  It wasn't.  It kept calling and I kept offering tidbits that were spit back out as it if were a fussy child.  It hesitated over a butterfly, tasted it, contemplated it and then waved it away.  I was becoming frustrated wondering if there really was another piece in this puzzling image now called "Wholly Flower."  The butterfly had felt almost right.  Then I noticed a small caterpillar image.  I had never been happy with the image because the caterpillar was crawling away from me on a leaf when what I had really wanted was to see its face.  

But, the caterpillar said "try me" and when I dropped it into the mix, the whole image came alive and said Done! Even the name changed.  The caterpillar looked like it was trying to crawl into one of the holes and it made me think of Alice in Wonderland and exploring new worlds.  It took on the name Wonderland.

The creative process is probably as unique as fingerprints but what amazes and amuses me is how it almost doesn't seem to have anything to do with me.  I feel like an observer whose primary job is to watch and listen ... and do its bidding.  Sometimes I wish it would speak in a louder, clearer voice but, overall, it is a gift.  I sometimes feel just like that small caterpillar heading into that dark hole.  I don't know what's ahead of me but I know it will nourish me ... and, maybe, on the other side I will turn into a butterfly.



  1. This is incredible Joyce. Both the writing and the photo creation.

    I became immersed in -- and when I become immersed, the rest of the world disappears.

    Off today -- in search of my father -- Hugs

  2. Wonderful! I love that we play in such similar ways... isn't this FUN! (and don't you ADORE the Warp command?)

  3. I think anything that pulls us into that immersion that makes the rest of the world disappear is a true gift.

    And, yes, Diane, when I'm in Warp mode, I feel like the ruler of the universe. It is mine. I sometimes wonder if the developers of Photoshop know how much pleasure they offer us ... this isn't a tool, it's a magic carpet into another world. It is Wonderland.

  4. Your creative process and the way you write about it is so inspiring. Beautiful journey to a beautiful creation.

  5. You have a keen eye for detail. It's lovely how you photographed and used the texture. It's very beautiful and creative.

  6. Anita and Shelley ... thank you for your comments ... I really appreciate them ... especially coming from two incredible artists!