Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Creative Process; Part I

This is an entry from a couple of years ago. A few of you...ok, two of you...asked about these 'voices' that I was writing about. I realized that the introduction to the voices was something I did in a different blog a few years back. I'm going to run the 5 original posts that introduced these annoying voices.

If you've already read this short series (again, I'm only talking to a couple of people) then you have my apologies. New things are coming on the Monday posts. Til then, here is the first post introducing my art and the rest of the gang.



A lot of people have asked me how I go about creating a painting. How do I determine the subject matter? Or, how do I choose the model? Or, where did I get the idea for that pose? So, I thought I would take a few minutes to show you how my ideas generally form.


I will call this Brainstorming Day, usually brought on when I look over at the empty canvases stacked neatly in my studio. Like today.

Today I have a slight advantage: I already have a theme. I’m doing a series of Greek mythology-related works. I call the series Modern Greek, where I wonder how a particular god, goddess, hero or heroine would appear in today’s world. Now it’s time to let my mind wander. This usually happens in, what I like to call, “Meditative Position #1.”

It is in this position that I allow my subconscious do a little work for a change. If I don’t come up with anything, I move into “Meditative Position #2.”

While little red, green and blue dots scroll across my screen I let my fingers strum on autopilot while my mind starts considering subject matter. Mostly, I’m just listing names in my head. Zeus. Ares. Hera. Aphrodite… I wonder if I can get someone to pose nude for Aphrodite. 

I’m snatched back to cyber-reality when I notice that my cyber-audience is booing me. I refocus and manage to finish “Carry On My Wayward Son” without getting unplugged. I start something a little easier. With “Eye of the Tiger” starting, I let my mind soar while my fingers move deftly up the plastic neck of my tiny guitar.

How about something a little more fringe? One of the Titans, perhaps. Maybe a nymph. I can name a few Titans, but I don’t think I know any nymphs. I should have paid more attention in history. Then again, since nymphs aren’t real, maybe history wasn’t where I learned about them. Was it creative writing? Literature? Social Studies? Damn, they’re booing again. Is there anything easier than Survivor? Probably not.

I decide to try the Killers. While Brandon Flowers’ voice comes over my TV speakers I can hear my own voice whispering a list of names. I don’t know if I’m thinking or speaking. Hecate, Apollo, Demeter, Artemis, Danae, Eros, Chronos, Poseidon. Sometimes images from memory flash in my head at the sound of one of the names, like Harry Hamlin riding Pegasus around the head of the Kraken in Clash of the Titans. Sometimes it’s a person that I know, like my friend CheeseMan who seems to fit Zeus perfectly.

Hestia, Helen, Medea, Atlas, Phaeton. More images click into place, then flitter away to be replaced by others. I could do this all day. What I need is some reality thrown in.

I start with models rather than subject matter, starting with the list of volunteers. I eliminate models I’ve used before, often reluctantly. I eliminate people I don’t look forward to working with. Already, something is happening. My head is filling with images. Some of them are repeats, like the Pegasus, and what I think might be Harry Hamlin’s headshot. But some of them are potential models. Three people stand out in my head, their names crashing around inside my brain like dancers in a mosh-pit. I will dub these people: Blondie, Not-Blondie, and Dude.

Blondie is sexy, smart, and charismatic. Not-Blondie is beautiful, sophisticated, and wise. Dude is handsome, dynamic, and strong. More pictures click into place in my head. Real clicking, too. I hear it, like an invisible slide projector sitting just behind my eyes: Blondie holding a spear, Blondie naked holding a spear, Not-Blondie in a loin cloth holding a golf club, Dude eating ice cream, Dude eating ice cream while Not-Blondie swats at him with a golf club, Not-Blondie kissing Harry Hamlin, Dude kissing Harry Hamlin.

The clicking is loud, and constant, and already I find that images of Blondie are the ones that show up the most. Progress! I eliminate the other two. I dump more names into my mental slide projector, and more images click into place. Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hecate, Athena, Pandora. I try to picture Blondie as some of these women, and a few more images seem to fit, while others are very wrong. Blondie as Aphrodite fits. Pandora does not. Hera isn’t quite right, either. Medea has potential. Nike seems perfect. Medusa is put on the back burner. Eos is ideal. Click. Click. Click. Pictures are coming faster, the clicking in my head drowns out everything else. I don’t fight it. This is part of the process. My plastic guitar is now leaning against the coffee table.

I think of Blondie’s traits, both physical and mental. Hair. Eyes. Smile. Shape. Style. Personality. What would I want to emphasize? More images join the maelstrom. Some of the images in my head are becoming more prominent than others. There are few weapons in the images. The warriors are fading. No Athena, no Artemis. There are more gowns. More smiles. Blondie has a great smile. Great shoulders. Emphasize the shoulders. Emphasize the mouth. Smiles. Probably not Medea. One down.

Nike with wings, soaring. Hera standing regally. Aphrodite lounging alluringly, nearly nude. Eos stretching powerfully. Click. Click. Click. Does one subject show up more than the others?

I decide that I want power. I choose Eos, Goddess of the Dawn.

Two problems down; Subject and Model. This should put me at ease, but it doesn't. Suddenly, this has become the most important thing in the world!

Wikipedia says that Eos was the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the sun. She opened the gates of heaven so Apollo could ride his chariot across the sky every day.

More research. Sometimes she rode a winged chariot, and at other times she was depicted with wings of her own. Eos had many lovers. Her typical way of dealing with them was to kidnap them. Her colors were red, orange and pink. In Roman mythology she is known as Aurora. She was often called ‘the rosy fingered.”

Now I’m armed with a lot of information. The clicking is too much. I can’t do anything but think of this painting. I’m sure I heard my wife say something but I have no time for her. I must get this out of my head. I’m pacing back and forth in front of my laptop. I remind myself that I need to keep this modern. Wings are out, at least attached.

Planes pop into my head. Helicopters. Birds. Dawn. The Sun. Apollo. Click. Click. Click. One picture leading to the next. Click. Click. Click. Ah, a repeat: Rope. Rope used for kidnapping lovers and drawing back the curtain of night. Click. Click. More birds, this time on a wire with Eos balanced between them. Click. Click. Click. Click. Eos as cowgirl. Click. Click. Click. Eos holding the sun in her hands. Click. Click. Click. And finally, the same five or six images are clicking into place, over and over again. The clicking in my head starts to grow more manageable. I feel more controlled.

Now, the real work begins...


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