The mystical process of artistic creation.
Part of me longs for a perfectly linear creative journey as an artist. A visit to a popular art gallery, a cathartic release, an inability to think of anything else until eventually funnelling that one epiphanic moment into my own masterpiece. But I can’t recall any famous piece of artwork having swayed my life or artistic journey in any significant direction.
My first experience of being moved by art was my Dad drawing for me when I was around five or six, or more precisely, the fact I never actually saw him drawing. He would sketch late at night after I'd gone to bed and I would wake up early before school to an exquisitely pencilled representation of whatever I'd asked for laid out on the kitchen table with breakfast. I remember one particular drawing of Wile E. Coyote playing an electric guitar he had recreated for me from a tiny Tazo (Frito-Lays’ take on a Pog that would come free with packets of crisps). The image on the Tazo was vividly coloured in electric pinks and greens and to my memory this was replicated for me in precise detail. On some occasions the drawings were large enough that they stretched across two A4 sheets taped together seamlessly from underneath.
My understanding of the creative process began to form in a similar way, two pieces, the beginning and the end and a somewhat magical transition from one to another that was present but not visible. It was this missing part, in between the request and the result, the mysterious process from which the creation appeared, that captivated me.
My Dad was a particularly mysterious person and not through any intention of his own. We spent a great deal of time in each other’s company but wouldn’t share too many conversations of depth. Later in life I felt I didn’t really know my Dad that well and maybe this distance between us which I eventually longed to close was the very space that I held in such high regard. It was the place where incredible drawings seem to come from and where despite the lack of communication, things happened and things got done. Out of the emptiness came all of the things I needed and came to love.
This mesmerisation in an artistic magic we never see on the surface fuelled my curiosity for art at an early age and guided me through school, college and university, at first in my artistic work and later outside of it. It permeated slowly into my personal life, like water through a rock, something so imperative and free flowing at first suddenly moving so slowly in a new space. And me, on the other side waiting for it to burst through, filtered and pure like a waterfall, only for it to drip once in a while and otherwise present itself as a cold damp surface, a reminder that the reason I started all of this was still present but manifesting itself in such a way that felt so unremarkable and far from what I imagined it would be.
I could never recreate the feeling of waking up to look at my Dad’s drawings myself. Just as musicians will very rarely be moved by their own compositions in the same way others will when they hear it for the first time, all artists move through life subconsciously in search of a voice that a lot of the time can only ever be an echo.
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