Category Archives: creative cycle

Creative Cycle: The Journey of 1000 miles . . .

. . . begins with one step.

Beginnings can be difficult. The physical canvas is entirely blank. Only shadowy hints of conception are forming in our mind’s eye. Really, we have just begun to think. The preponderance of question marks at the commencement of new work is intimidating, discouraging, a hindrance at the outset of our creative cycle.

Blind Monk, our Thai Buddhist acolyte in extended residence at Lolita’s place, queried, “What is the nature of that first step?”

“It is making the basic but essential commitment to a new project,” submitted Deuce.”

“That’s it?” Lolita was doubtful.

“Sure,” encouraged Monk. “I think the Spaniel has pretty much hit on it. It is possible that a lot of the anxiety surrounding the commencement of new work is not about finding the new idea, or fearing failure. It is about readiness to commence.”

“Yea, I start to see it.” conceded our gentle Vampiress. “In fact, that moment of actual commitment, when we land there, is kind of sweet. There is a positive anticipation, and a rush of creative thought.”

“Sounds like a good moment to me.” This from Lizard King, who of course loves a good rush!

Blind Monk went on to suggest that the work of commencing a new project is really the work of reaching readiness. It can be a time for self-awareness. Did we go into excess mode with our celebrations after the last finished piece? Perhaps there is some adjustment needed back to a more mundane, but also more self-nurturing, routine. Or perhaps we really need to keep on partying for a while, or just read a novel.

Your days of reaching readiness for the next project can be precious days of increasing self-knowledge, of creative battery-charging. You are like the body-builder on his days off from the gym. Your creative “physique” actually builds up during these days.

You are definitely looking good!

spark on!


Leave a comment

Posted by on June 19, 2013 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Cycle: Project’s Done Party’s On

a young vampiriess mingling at the club

Lolita cutting it up at the club

Finishing a project is a moment of reflection, of breath catching, of celebration. Exhilaration mixes with relief, anticipation, perhaps even some sense of loss. You embrace yourself. You bask in the fullness of new learning. You have seen visions, been granted revelations. Bow your head in gratitude to the Creator, with Whom you have surely partnered to produce something from nothing!

So! Is it celebration now? What is the nature of the festival? Is it a wild frenzy of release, getting drunk, laid, pigging out. Well yes! There ‘s room for some of that, dammit! There has been a lot of necessary gratification delay. There has been a lot of sustained tension, frustration. You have endured, against your very nature, a patient toil through the tedium of baby steps necessary to arrive at good finished work.  Let out a primal scream, and say PARTY!.

But there has developed in the fullness of the creative process a rather huge void which won’t be filled by the Party. We need to share, to receive feedback, to reconnect ourselves and our work with the community. Although we did not create for the community, or the audience, our work was not meant to remain in the womb. It has its place in the world. It is a part of Creation now, no less than the tree, the skyscraper, the raindrop.  Our satisfaction is full when our work has taken its place in the order of the physical world, and when the outward ripples of energy set in motion by this placement bounce back to us in the form of reaction and feedback.

The voice of the audience helps clarify for us, illuminate for us, what we have achieved.

The celebration is only in part about what we can now receive. Our hours of toiling through the steps of the creative cycle, often in isolation, also yields an over the top empathy for the in process work of our colleagues. We are full of positive energy and the capacity to encourage our fellow artist in her current creative journey.

Your in-between project days are a great and well-deserved gift. It is your opportunity to re-align, re-balance, re-connect, re-charge. All your spark plugs are firing. You are a magnet for giving and receiving the most positive energy!  Enjoy!



Posted by on June 6, 2013 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Life: An Exercise in Stillness

The equivalent of taking time to smell the roses, for the artist, might be taking time to observe the lives and works of other artists.  This is an enriching process which sheds light on ones own creative condition as well as providing fodder, in the form of new ideas and approaches, for one’s own artistic development.

Subscribing to this time out for involvement in the life and work of a fellow artist requires a bit of relinquishing self and ego.  Whatever project we have on the front burner must, by necessity, be moved to the back, put on low flame for a bit.  We temporarily suspend our current pallet of personal feelings – joy in success and love, despair in loneliness, failed work – to open up space for the feelings and emotional condition of our colleague.

Here is a subtle exercise to facilitate engagement in this process of sitting with the other guy for a little while.  Our subject is a still life by Harrisburg painter Corey Fou Chong.  Music for the piece is provided by guitarist/composer Michael Stokes..

still life of a bowl of tomatoes

a still life invites us, ourselves, to stillness

. Our subject is a still life – bright red tomatoes piled high in a blue ceramic bowl. One lonely sister, outcast, hides beneath a veil of green leaves.

Mr. Ford’s still life speaks of the artist’s own condition of calm, and his deep feeling, his valuing, of simple objects in simple states. Mr. Stokes’ gentle guitar strums also invite us to settle, to be still ourselves, and engage with Mr. Ford in this exquisite valuing, appreciation, of a simple, but exquisitely colored domestic scene.

We might take this moment of calm with us, and this appreciation for the infinite detail and wonderful organization in mundane objects and scenes, and discover in the process that a door has opened to us, enabled us to move forward again in our own creative struggle.

spark on!

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 1, 2013 in creative cycle


Tags: , ,

Creative Cycle: Intensity of the Endgame

For Lolita, there is a great deal of intensity associated with the final stages of a project. The analogy of profound religious experience can be helpful to understanding this intensity. Beyond the revelatory experience of the acolyte, which is passive, the artist’s revelation is accompanied by an intensity of action, and is all the more challenging to manage.

In some religious traditions, delving into the mystical aspects is discouraged as a rule for all but a select few. And even those select are discouraged from esoteric studies until they are well along in years and fully rooted in normative tradition and faith. The ecstasy that can accompany mystical revelation has overpowered some, taken them over the edge, disconnected them permanently from the realities of this world. Generally speaking, that is not a good thing.

As a creative project reaches fruition, the artist experiences something of this ecstasy. The clarity of the artist’s creative vision is akin the mystic’s revelation of G-d’s secret aspects. We are enveloped by our vision, and beyond this, we have become a vehicle, a tool, for the transformation of this vision, this conception, into a concrete form. We are fully engaged in the process of creation, fully partnering with the Creator herself.

This Power beyond us is driving us now to the end. This is not the time for our well-considered baby-steps of progress. We are not taking carefully considered steps here to lay a good foundation for our work. Rather, we are making the final, inspired strokes which elevate work from something good to something profound.

We are pushing ourselves physically and mentally beyond our routine capacities. We are isolated more than usual from contact with the world. We are ignoring the day’s routines which normally sustain us, maintain us. Even as we experience great joy in these final, revelatory moments of our process, we feel stress from the physical demand and the disconnection from our support systems.

This intensity of the endgame in the creative cycle is certainly something to be managed. Fortunately, and unlike our unqualified mystic, seasoned artists such as yourself have learned to keep a small part of the brain in emotional reserve during these heady times of project completion. This part of the brain reminds us that there will be some let down soon. There will be some need to catch our breath, to recover. You can look forward to the less intense, but equally satisfying opportunity to transition from internally focused work to the externally focused activity of sharing. Sharing your work is a way to include others in your joyful experience of finishing creative work. And equally satisfying, you have a particularly good chance to leverage your recently acquired clarity by providing extra helpful feedback on the work of others. Perhaps this is the greatest gift of your recent achievement – how it has enabled you to continue empowering others.

spark on!



Posted by on March 11, 2013 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Cycle: Thinking it Through

Deuce's therapist always advised to stay in process

Deuce’s therapist always advised to stay in process

Deuce is not ashamed to admit that he spent many years working with a psychotherapist.  Initially, the work related to losing his next door girl friend when her master lost the house and she had to move away.

it was hard for Deuce losing Sadie

it was hard for Deuce losing Sadie

But over the years, therapist and canine explored his life as his training at Petsmart, life with Lolita, and creative life.


In fact Deuce’s therapist had a deep curiosity about the creative process and helped Deuce a lot to articulate the essential phases of the creative cycle.  In particular, the psycho-therapeutic process revealed a lot about an early phase of that creative cycle – creative thought and conception.  How often during Deuce’s therapy sessions would his mind race ahead, would he react emotionally to something he recalled and begin to digress away from the thought itself.  At these times, Therapist would gently bring Deuce back to the thought itself, as painful as it might be.  He encouraged Deuce to stay with the thought, to stay with the sometimes hard feelings associated with the thought.  He encouraged Deuce always to stay in process, to allow for all the little baby steps necessary to fully explore the subject at hand.

At the beginning of a project, an artist is full of thoughts about his subject, his chosen medium, the ideas and emotions he hopes to convey, the technical aspects of the project he hopes to explore, the learning work he anticipates.  There is a lot going on, all informed by the artist’s great enthusiasm for a new project.  Her natural creative drive tugs at her to begin applying paint to canvas.  Be it a formal or informal process, an intensely conscious process or a largely unconscious process, artists have engaged in a substantial amount of thinking, of conceptually organizing the elements of her project before actual  project execution.

Enjoy discovering the nature of your own creative thought process, and refining that process.  As you deepen your commitment to that process, and fully value it, you can enjoy a powerful flow, a true creative channeling of His energy during your project execution.

spark on


1 Comment

Posted by on December 18, 2012 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Cycle: Isolation

There is an important artist – lives across the river from Deuce and Lolita – by the name of Chris Mackie.  Chris is extremely versatile and produces in a variety of genres – including abstract, celebrity portrait, and figurative.  One of the themes that Chris has developed in a number of works is that of man walking alone, very small in a big and sometimes foreboding world, bent with the struggle, but not broken – pushing heroically on.  You can enjoy browsing Chris’ works at his professional site on Facebook.  voici le “link”

This experience of the lonely struggle is a familiar one to the artist.

After all the study, all the formal influence and learning from the master, and all the informal influences of a lifetime, we put all of that aside, and dig deeply within ourselves to discover how it has all integrated and we pull out something new that is uniquely from the self.  And more often than not, we need to do that on our own, alone, in isolation.

Reconciling with another round of self-imposed isolation is part of the commitment process that marks the very beginning of the artist’s creative cycle.  Even in collaborations, like rock bands, where it seems there is a spontaneous group create – much of what happens in that group session is the result of what individual musicians brought to the table from their own hours of creative solitude.

Lolita, a social girl, always needs to push past a natural reluctance to take a break from her beloved Facebook, Twitter, not to mention her lovers, Lizard King, and others, for the sake of getting into the work of project conception and initial execution.  But she is reminded by Deuce, surprisingly the more spiritual of the two, that there is a very special bond with the “silent” Partner in these initial stages.  The Creator of the Universe partners with the artist in Her ongoing renewal of the world, and She holds the artist in Her arms when he accepts his fate, his destiny, to make sacrifices for the sake of creating something new – something that will bring more light to the world.

So our blessed Composer of Music for Art once again accepts the challenge, renews her commitment to creative life generally, and to a new project specifically – and begins to THINK!

In your evolution through many iterations of the creative cycle, you have come to appreciate the special bond you feel with the Creator at that very initial point when you once more pick up the yoke and voluntarily bear the necessary “exile” from the world for the sake of creating something new.  And you can look forward to those moments in the endgame – when it will be all about sharing, and celebration, and rejoining your communities with a new gift for them!

spark on!



Posted by on December 12, 2012 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Cycle: The Decision to Conceive

your horse stance must be rock solid

In kung fu, the ancient masters required the acolytes to maintain the horse stance for hours on end.  A solid horse stance is the foundation for every form, and to achieve it takes a great deal of time and patience.  But once achieved, technique flows from it like water gushing from crevices in a rock.

So it is with an artist’s creative process.  The foundation, the starting point and the continuous reference point, is the decision, the commitment, to create.

An artistic conception begins with the artist’s decision to express in some concrete form an idea, a feeling, a subject.  The artist decides to create.  Naturally, the artistic personality is hardwired for this decision, and to not make this decision represents resistance to nature.  Nevertheless, it is no small thing to submit to the difficulties and challenges associated with commitment to an artistic process. A commitment to create is a renewal of partnership with the Creator.  Partnership with the Creator demands a letting go of the ego, some nullification of the self, some sacrifice of creature comfort.  A commitment to create brings vulnerability to the difficulties associated with artistic growth – difficult new learning, social isolation, confusion (the “dark tunnel”), even mental anguish and physical pain.

You are at the beginning of a new creative cycle.  There are many more questions than answers now.  In fact it is all about questions now.  Fortunately, you have learned to appreciate these starting points.  For these starting points are all about creative thought – about discovering where you are at right now and where you are ready to go – with your technique, with learning, with level.  You can consider professional strategy and incorporate that strategy into the choice you make for this new project.

Just as the master demands long hours of his students in horse stance – so you afford yourself a good chunk of time to consider the new project, to define goals and strategies, to anticipate and plan the kinds of work which will be necessary for successful execution.

And so – your mind embarks on a new journey of creative thought.  Allow yourself to be lost in it for a time.  This capacity for creative thought is a gift to you, as an artist, from the Creator.

spark on




Leave a comment

Posted by on November 29, 2012 in creative cycle


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mixed Media Art Group

A Group of Mixed Media Artists and Photographers

4am Writer

Survival Guide for Writers


Adventures in Watercolor Painting and Sketching, Watercolour Magazine, with Charlie O'Shields

Business in Rhyme

inspiring personal growth through poetry and writing

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

Color by Klimbim

The Journey: Rediscovering Myself

Finding motivation to change my life for the better


Stan Stewart - the muse is present


Because if You're Going to Lie, Lie Yourself the TRUTH

John SterVens' Tales

Thee Life, Thee Heart, Thee Tears

Simple Tom

Some say I was born high. Others say i'm just simple :)

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

The Evolution of Eloquence

Improving the English language one letter at a time


Just another site


Just Click It

LEANNE COLE - The Photographer's Mentor

Fine Art Photographer ~ Daring to be Different