Category Archives: creative process

Working Multiple Projects

bubbles appear above a head which represent multiple projectsAn artist once told me that she always had several projects in process at any given time.  How many is several?  I think she said 12.  She certainly was talking about more than 2 or 3.

Juggling multiple projects might seem at odds with our notion of  a creative process and the kinds of mindsets and emotions associated with that process.  The creative process has been described, in summary, as follows:

  1. conceptualization (creative thought)
  2. new learning
  3. project decisions
  4. implementation
  5. endgame
  6. celebration
  7. recovery

The artist experiences different frames of mind and emotions during the different phases of the project.  Creative thought and new learning is a time to let the imagination soar.  It is a time to be curious, to explore, to discover something new through learning.  As we enter into the decision making and implementation phases, our mindset is more analytical.  The project endgame is the most intense phase.  We feel anticipation and urgency.  We are immersed in the emotional content of our work.  We experience spontaneous flashes of inspiration.

Is it unreasonable to expect an artist to work on different projects at different stages of completion, given the different emotional states associated with different phases of the creative work?  Probably not.  We experience lows and highs, moments of calm thought and moments of exuberance in our daily lives.  We are not working on our different projects at exactly the same time of day, and most likely on different days.  Our emotional involvement (or lack of involvement) in one project, at one stage of completion, can positively impact our work on a different project at a different phase in the process.  We foster healthy overlaps in the various steps associated with the creative process.  We potentially invest analytical phases with more passion.  Likewise, we may offer ourselves an additional bit of grounding during more emotion laden phases of later-stage projects.

Perhaps you are stuck with some issue in a current project.  Consider starting something completely new.  Perhaps all your work will benefit as a result.



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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in creative process


Building Foundations

Building Foundations

Building a good foundation is essential to the stability and durability of a structure. We use the analogy of building a good foundation to understand the importance of mastering fundamentals in a discipline. We build on fundamentals to achieve mastery.

My weight training program is an example of striving to build a good foundation. In my weight training program, the fundamentals are focus, form and strength. The first year was spent doing high repetition sets with low weights. Understanding good form on the various machines and with the free weights has been very important. Learning to listen to the body has been important. Listening to the body is about understand strengths and weaknesses. It is about avoiding injuries.

I learned how to put the ego aside. I learned how to breathe.

In a year’s time a certain level of even strength between arms and legs developed. In that same period of time I acquired some skill in a variety of exercises which served to isolate individual muscles and muscle groups. It was at this point, about a year in, that the goals changed. It was time to start working more aggressively to build body mass.

There is a new set of fundamentals for the the new goal. The fundamentals relate to training techniques, nutrition, and overall self-maintenance. There are new challenges with respect to diet and supplementation. Protein is a much bigger part of the diet. Deeper,more productive sleep has been a big challenge. Dietary supplement choices have been a challenge. Cutting back on drinking has been a challenge.

In essence I have moved from one set of fundamentals to another. The new set of fundamentals which must be mastered are diet, sleep, and training method. My ability to address these new fundamentals rests on the original foundation building with respect to focus, form and strength. Focus carries over into the ability to improve sleep. Focus, strength and form support the more aggressive work with heavier weights and shorter sets.

In another year, I look forward to enhanced dietary supplementation and even more aggressive training methods.

In every discipline, this patient layering of fundamentals upon fundamentals establishes the foundation which makes mastery in the disciplien possible. While goals are extremely important for motivation and progress, the goal of mastery is elusive. For at each level, mastery becomes something higher for which we strive. For this reason it is important to recognize and value our present achievements.

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in creative process


Creation and Learning


In order to create something new, learn something new. If creation is the process of bringing something new into the universe, then there must by definition be certain elements, either in the physical work, or in the creative process, that are new. To introduce elements we have not used before into our work, or to approach our work in some untried way inevitably requires some learning.

This marriage of learning with creation speaks, to some, of the artist’s partnership with a Higher Power. It is the artist’s relationship with the Creator which ultimately makes his own process of creation possible. That partnering relationship is one of teacher and student. G-d needs to impart knowledge. The artist needs to learn. How does that play out? Usually not in the form of mystical revelation. Rather, the initial stages of our creative process direct us to a requisite point of learning.

Through our process of conceiving a project, we become aware (are made to become aware) of the need to pick up some new skill or technique, to comprehend some new concept, to broaden or deepen our toolbox and our palette. For having imagined the new work, we now think about the project’s execution. What steps must we take to get from our concept to a concrete expression of that concept? It is generally at this point that we must take stock of our current skill sets and knowledge, and confront the reality of falling short. This is a good thing. This is our moment of opportunity for artistic growth. We admit what is currently out of our reach. Then we figure out how to reach it – how to learn what we must to proceed with our work.

The devil of resistance takes the stage now, for there is some uncomfortable work to do – fraught with the likelihood of initial failure and feelings of total stupidity. We initially resist the need to buckle down to learning. We wait for readiness. There is an ancient Chinese proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” That readiness begins for us when the motivation to move forward with our work grows strong enough. This happens eventually, despite our best efforts at procrastination. As we settle into our working frame of mind, we let the cares and concerns of the outside world slip away. We tune into the inner voice. We get honest with ourselves. In this state of mind, we can finally bite the bullet and wade through the tutorial, or call somebody for the needed lesson.

Having properly armed ourselves with new learning, we can move forward confidently in our creative process.

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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in creative process



Lolita’s Victorian Track

Hoping to inspire participation in the current Midisparks Art Sales composers contest ‘Old School Victorian Tracks’, Lolita submitted a contest entry.  Her composition is presented with an image from the Carney’s collection, ‘Victorian Ball Gown‘.

a headshot of Victorian fashioned vampiress

Lolita has been connecting lately with her Victorian roots

Lolita is best known as the vampire host and principal contributor to Lolita’s Music for Art Blog.  But she has also composed since she was a little girl, well over 100 years ago. (for those who would like  to review Lolita’s short biography, it can be viewed on her website profile page.  View Lolita Vampiress bio).

Electronic Music Production and Classical Music Values

Lolita had reservations about the project at the outset.  Our vampire’s music production is strictly electronic and strictly midi.  On top of this, Lolita has become addicted to loops and the repetitive, minimalistic tracks that loops often spawn.  For the romantic style called for in the contest, she needed to create a through-composed piece with a sustained and expressive melodic line.  Could she hope to achieve a good result given her current compositional process?

a blind monk playing his gopichant

Blind Monk is a gopichant master

Nevertheless she was encouraged by her mentor of many years, Blind Monk.  Our transplanted Thai monk and master of the gopichant offered the following: “Think of this Victorian tribute track as a cover.  Cover bands cannot help but put their own creative stamp on tributes and that is what makes covers interesting.   You will do the same, dear Lolita, with your Victorian track.

Thus encouraged, Lolita set about the problem of creating an expressive melodic line.  Entering midi notes from the typing keyboard was out of the question.  Instead, Lolita entered the melody from her midi keyboard, which transmits velocity data.  Likewise, a keyboard style preset humanized the accompaniment somewhat.  There was also a problem with note samples.  Even if all notes are performed at similar velocity levels, certain samples stick out for one reason or another.  Lolita managed to smooth things out somewhat with additional velocity adjustments (although equalization adjustments are sometimes the better choice).

Despite some positive feedback on the project in the composer forums, Lolita had mixed feelings about her track.  Editing had diluted the track’s sense of spontaneity, of live performance.

“Now you are suffering from some authentic Victorian angst,” Blind Monk chuckled.  “Yours is truly the self-doubt of the romantic artist, seeking for some unattainable perfection of emotional expression.  We hear that struggle in your track, and for that reason alone you have succeeded.  Beyond this, you have brought important musical values from the past back to the present for a new generation of composers.  All of us, composers and audience alike, will surely be the better for it.”



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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in creative process


Photo Prints Step out of Cyberspace the Hard Way

Most creative folks experience some heightened level of intensity as they enter the final lap of a project. This is an exhilarating point in the creative process. The creative drive is fully harnessed, the mind is in overdrive.  A lot gets done in a concentrated amount of time.  A lot of energy is expended. We need to recover emotionally and physically from this intensity of the creative end-game.  That state of recovery can be sweet and productive in and of itself.  When we resist the need for recovery, we find ourselves running around in circles.

Lolita and Deuce, mascots of the Midisparks Art Sales website, learned this lesson firsthand recently in the course of preparing a vendor booth for the Wildcat Ridge Music and Wine Festival. This after having convinced webmaster Dan of the value in taking the photo prints product out of cyberspace and into the real world.

There were three main focus areas of the preparation, all of which were new territory for our enterprising team. There was the physical preparation – the matter of a tent and an installation inside the tent on which to present the art prints. Physical inventory had to be accumulated and priced. A point-of-sale payment system had to be implemented and tested.  Art prints had to be framed.

Over a busy period of about 30 days, one problem after another was tackled.  The tent was set up in the backyard. Test purchases were made with the point-of-sale payment system. Inventory was accumulated, priced, framed.  Endless details kept Lolita and Deuce in high gear from morning until night.

The day of the festival arrived.  All the gear and art was loaded up in a rented van. Bursting with anticipation, our vampiress and her faithful canine arrived at the vendor alley to set up. Stakes were pounded in. Sandbags were secured. A final panel was upholstered. The art was hung, the cards pinned to the display. They tested the payment system. They even found time to help a neighbor put up a tent. Then, it was done.

But Lolita and Deuce were not done!  They were not ready for this moment of completion, for this opportunity for sweet recovery.  Lolita was so wound up she reverted into a bat and was bouncing off the trusses of the tent!   Deuce was uncontrollably humping the greeting card stand. The work was done but they couldn’t stop moving!

Lolita hanging from the trusses

It took an hour to get Lolita down from the top of the tent

Fortunately there were not too many interested attendees at this festival. Otherwise, there would have been nobody to greet them at the Midisparks Art Sales booth except a frantic bat and a sexually disfunctional Spaniel. After about an hour, however, Lolita became Lolita again and settled into the beach chair. Deuce took a bottle of water provided by the grateful nextdoor neighboor. They finally chilled. Wow! This is great! Nothing to do now but smile and greet prospective customers! Wow! How easy! How fun!  Next event they will surely transition more smoothly into sweet recovery mode, to their benefit and to the benefit of their customers.

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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in creative process


Slowing It Down

This past Tuesday Mona snapped at work.  We are sorry to disappoint regular guests to, but our VP Marketing and Sales of necessity still holds a day job.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We are where we are for a reason.  For Mona, one of those reasons is to learn some humility and self-control.  Tuesday’s drama was evidence that she needs more time.
Mona Lisa in blue sweatsuit and orange headphones
So what happened in the office?  Mona returned from lunch, somewhat late, to be greeted by a boss in rather urgent need of information. Mona, feeling a bit guilty about coming in late, and always wanting to please, caught her boss’ flame and ignited into a problem solving ball of fire.  One hour later she presented a report to her boss.  The report, it turns out, got it all wrong.  To make matters worse, when Mona’s boss let her know, in a quite reasonable way, that there was a problem, she went a mess and even spoke badly of a co-worker.

Sitting at McDonald’s this morning, cursing the slow wi-fi, Mona reflected on the fiasco of two days ago.  How could she have handled the unexpected pressure better?  Why did she snap?

“Damn!”  Mona hissed beneath her breath.  “This wi-fi is slow!”  Mona was drawn back to her present slow-as-snails McDonald’s internet surf.  Determined that the poor experience with the wi-fi would not completely prevent her from accomplishing something, Mona slowed down her brain to match the slow speed of the internet connection.

Then the light bulb went on.  She understood a similar adjustment had been necessary in the office two days ago.  Even as she slowed down her thought process to control her frustration with the slow online connection, she should have slowed down her thinking to counteract her emotional response to the boss’ urgent requirement.  In both instances, an emotional response to external environmental conditions was driving the brain into high gear and beyond its capacity for efficient and productive thought.  Some detachment from the external realities was necessary in both cases to allow the normal problem solving process to occur.

There is a valuable lesson to learn from Mona’s experience for creative types.  We very naturally become emotionally charged in the heat of our creative process, and especially in the end game when everything is coming together.  We are dealing with our excitement at seeing the final product unfold and we are engaged in spontaneous creation and implementation as at no other time in the evolution of the project.  It is just at these moments in our creative process that there needs to be some detachment in our thinking, some conscious slowing down of the thought process to compensate for the emotional high of almost completed work.  Mastering this rather challenging balancing act will help you to avoid breaking things at the end!

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in creative process


Photo and Effect

Lolita is under a lot of pressure lately to beef up her blog posts over at Audio Sparks for Art. This is a result of webmaster Dan’s redoubled efforts to improve his relationship with the search engine robots and drive a little more traffic through the site. The bots like words. Lolita has been asked to provide more of them. To this end, our vampiric idol has been introducing artist statements about creative process. This sharing about process by the artists gives the fans one more way to connect with the creations and the creators. For Lolita, the sharing has encouraged her to look critically at a particular aspect of her own compositional process, i.e., the use of special effects.

Two photographs recently posted at the website were particularly instructive for Lolita. The first photo, “Silly Roses” by Tabitha Borges, resulted from a hilltop snapshot.  The post production work included cropping, the addition of background bubbles, and the application of a filter.Silly Roses, a photograph of 3 sisters laughing by Tabitha BorgesFall of the Monarch, monarch butterflies photo by Tabitha Borges
The other photograph, of monarch butterflies, utilizes an image cloning technique, then further image stretching and filtering.

It is evident from Tabitha’s description of her process with respect to the “Sisters” shot at least, that a great deal of planning went into positioning of subjects, angle of shot, inclusions of flowers. The foundation of her art photo was all about good planning and nothing about Photoshop editing. This is not to minimize or nullify the ultimate roll that Photoshop editing had in her process to final creation. But it is instructive to consider a sequence of creative events, one which begins with careful consideration of subject and shot. The strength of the final creation lies in these initial decisions. The effects are added at the end, to create the final artistic statement. Lolita has been a fan of many composers, and has offered many composers humble critique. One problem she has seen is a tendency to over-rely on effect. Consideration of Tabitha’s work drove her to the unavoidable truth that the make-it-or-break-it aspects of creative work are generally formulated well before the special effects, the embellishments, are added.

In your creative process, you may discover that more time and planning on the front end pays dividends at the end, in the final work.

spark on!


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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in creative process

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