Expansion and compression in the creative process relates to the amount of time we are willing or able to allow for a project. Expansion and compression in the creative process also speak to the amount of risk we can afford with respect to the project outcome.
Generally, an expansive approach to a project allows plenty of time for experimenting with new techniques, exploring for the first time or revisiting styles, forms, and mediums which are not currently part of your tried and true pallet. A composer of short 20 second audio clips might stretch into the creation of a longer 4 minute track. The painter in acrylics might explore the challenging and rich world of mixed medium. The figurative sculptor might attempt an abstract subject.
Invariably, this kind of exploration, experimentation, requires time out for learning. There is always a bit of a “leap of faith” involved with respect to the learning process. Some of us can wander awfully far from our original path and goal, with respect to learning. There is always the possibility that we won’t find our way back to the original project, or we will emerge from the learning with an understanding that informs the original project in an unexpected way, for better or worse. We may result with something very fresh, a powerful new element, in the current piece. We may need to rethink the project, to start from scratch, given the implications of our new learning, if we seek to continue the exploration – the expansive approach.
Demands upon our time, the need to satisfy commissions, may limit the degree to which we can benefit from the expansive approach to developing a creative project. The expectations of our clients may also limit our ability to take risks with unexpected results. But you can work on parallel tracks, devoting regular time to the tried and true, the bread and butter, and also devoting time, to explore less known paths.
As an artist, you are sensitive to issues of balance. You recognize the interrelated nature of experience. you can find time for the new, and reap from the tried and true.