I loved that he looked at “Baby Fox” in such a way that included field marks like big pointy ears; and that he saw emotion, personality and behavior in his “cute face” and “wiggly tail.” He also found a way to let me know you could see Baby Fox’s tummy behind his legs. Jeffery decided to draw Baby Fox himself (I wasn’t getting it quite right), he also added Baby Fox’s family and home (a hole in the African savannah—wow)!
What a good little naturalist and artist, I thought proudly! Such attention to detail and imagination involved in this little stuffed animal’s extended history. How wonderful that he looked at his little fox in such a way that would bring the critter to life in a drawing as well, like an actor who develops an entire background story and personal history about a character they’re portraying. Ten minutes later, when my son moved on to one of his dinosaurs to draw, I heard him say, “Tell me a story about your family, triceratops.” He proceeded to draw some circles with horns.
It made me think about the creative process. I think this is natural for many artists to carry a deeply personal connection to their work through a message, an experience, or a desire that needs to be transformed or expressed in some way. It is something that has a way of coming through when we go beyond our intention and explore a kind of backstory, or origin of our piece. To be fully aware of where the inspiration comes from and the reason for our subject. Circles with horns.
Fifty percent of the time the material, for me, “has the story” and dictates the direction of the work. Other times I have something quite specific in mind and mentally store it until the perfect element is in my hands, or it’s simply “ready to be created.” Still, other times I am inspired by a moment from an experience or feeling from a situation that I try to replicate. And, of course there will always be that unaccounted for percentage that I leave wild for the sake of creative exploration. Aha moments.
I try to make people smile, or escape into world of whimsy, or ultimately connect with some insight or knowledge discovered within a piece. I have not spent much time on the backstory that led me to want to create art that evokes these particular responses. I have my reasons, but the story behind each piece? Hmmm. I understand that what I am trying to create is something I want to maintain in my own world. I want to laugh, not be so serious about every little thing. I like the magical moments and whimsy of unexplainable things—which I want my son to embrace as long as possible. I want to be environmentally responsible in the way I live and create. I like to get people thinking. But I know there is much more to my story.
Each time I share a part of my story through my art, I find I am able to create something more meaningful. Yet, finding a way to make that happen for every piece is an indefinable part of my creative process. How far do I go to get to my cirlces with horns?
What’s your story?