Sometime, over the weekend I was pawing through a pile of old patterns. I had dedicated a day to re-stocking my inventory for an upcoming show and was looking for popular designs. I came across an old pattern and inspiration hit. I quickly traced the pattern and stepped to the bandsaw. After a quick rough-out I grabbed my knife and began to remove the pieces that weren’t an owl. I could see the curves and folds that I wanted and they began to develop within the block of wood. Legs, wing, tail and ears were clearly defined just as I had envisioned. I sanded the body smooth and began to paint. I carefully selected colors for under painting. When this dried I began to paint barred feathers across its back. Patterns and complex textures began to develop.
Then it hit me — this was to the project I was using to demonstrate my creative process. It had all happened and I failed to document it.
This leads me to a few observations:
- My friend, Kurt Meyer, was correct when he said, “Maybe it’s like falling asleep or falling in love. If you try to watch yourself do it, it won’t happen.” In reality it does happen…but not when you’re watching.
- I was clearly in flow. Flow theory is a concept that we study and teach to students at the Key Learning Community (I teach grades 5 and 6 in my day job). Mr. Csikszentmihaly the originator of flow theory describes it as, “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” It’s pretty apparent that if I’m in flow I cannot step back and observe my process and that at some point in every project I do reach flow. (I’m convinced that the chemical releases and levels of consciousness associated with flow has much to do with why creative people seek opportunities to create.)
- The only apparent options to document and discuss my process are to seek out a third party to do this as I work, document it from reflections rather than direct work or again, contrive a situation that illustrates the process artificially.
I will continue to reflect on this process and share.
I would be interested in comments.