Thursday, February 4

Art Dreaming - An Important Part of the Artistic Process

Today’s Image
Pennsylvania Avenue
Watercolor on Paper
Copyright 2010

Does your mind wander while you’re painting. Mine does. It’s not that I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing, I am, most of the time anyway. I think day dreaming is a form of multi-tasking while creating art.

Although some would describe artists as merely daydreamers, I’m sure we aren’t the only ones who do daydream. Those people probably don’t put much stock in artists or their artwork either. Whatever.

I believe daydreaming is an important part of the artistic (and creative) process. Let that sink in for a minute.

This is how it happens. You’re concentrating. You’re drawing, or mixing colors meticulously, or applying paint carefully, or you’re standing way back from the easel to assess your work.

Simultaneously your creative brain goes off to another place and time. You are conscious, of course, but at the same time, not fully "there." It’s during these moments, I believe, that our minds and creative spirits conjure up the notions that will become our work of art. Or, at least, these notions will supplement our consciousness and add to our ability to create something new.

I will see something in my work--a color, a shape, a texture, or a shadow--that had not previously caught my eye. This triggers a memory or a thought.

For example, recently I worked on a watercolor that had a city street scene as its motif. As the painting progressed I saw in my mind’s eye soft colors in paintings I had admired while visiting a prominent art gallery. As if on a carousel, paintings appeared before me for an instant before moving on. This "daydream" helped me to create the colors and values I was looking for although at the time I didn't know I was looking for them.

Instead of daydreaming, perhaps it should be called art dreaming. That describes it more accurately, at least, I think it did in my case. It allowed me to see things in a different way, from a different perspective, with a different approach and to use what I saw.

Is this what makes artists, artists? There’s no definitive answer to this, of course, but it makes sense to me that day- or art dreaming is part of it. The next time someone asks you why you’re goofing off or wasting time or not paying attention to your work, tell them you are not doing any of those things.

You’re art dreaming. It’s important.


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