Friday, January 3, 2014

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: The Creative Process

"On The Cusp" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Crescent Board, 20" x 9.5"

Finding Your Way: The Creative Process

Whenever we create we make countless numbers of decisions.  Some, I am quite certain, are so instinctive that we are not fully aware of making them. Others are not so instinctive and require a bit of wrestling.  And then there are others that are what we might call the "ah ha" moments, when suddenly we make a decision and everything falls into place.  That is what this painting is all about.

Feel free to be amused by the craziness of my method of "not-knowing" what I am going to paint in advance, and the predicaments I find myself in, especially when trying to meet a deadline.  I specifically chose to "finish" unfinished painting as my goal for this 30 in 30 challenge, which I am realizing may actually make the challenge greater. After all, there is a reason why many of these paintings have been left unfinished.  

Here is the image I started with. I liked the start because of the surface of the board, which was created using gel medium. I also liked the feeling of the two dominant figures. Still, the rest of the painting eluded me.  When I started working on it again,  my first thought was to put the figures in some kind of environment.  

At first I thought this painting was going to be about the relationship between the figure on the left to the more spiritual figure on the right. I began to create and environment - I added the dark shape on the left against a light shape suggesting sky, and I added a horizon line.

I decided to take out the vague figure on the far right and just work with the three figures. But I was still not happy with the environment, and the more I worked with it the more I felt that the environment was too literal for these figures. I needed to go for something more metaphorical.

I decided that the the figure on the right was the figure that the story was all about. The other figures could be placed in the gold and the main figure could be on the edge of the light, in transition.  And that was when I realized there was a relationship between this painting and "The Moment Before Tomorrow."

This seems to be a familiar metaphor for me: that of being on the cusp of something - being in transition - being on the edge of a transformative moment.  Perhaps I had some deep sense that was where this painting was headed from the very beginning, but it is more likely that my focus yesterday on "The Moment Before Tomorrow" influenced the outcome of this painting.  Still, it took hours though for the image to materialize.  It is still a surprising re-turn to the same metaphor - the same imagery - and it still fascinates me.  That's why I paint.  


  1. Great to see you doing this challenge again, Jim!

  2. Interesting to read about your decision making process, it's always a challenge! But wouldn't we be bored if it were easy? Happy painting.

  3. Jim, I love the your phrase “on the edge of a transformative moment” to describe this painting. It never really occurred to me that transformation actually happens in a moment. But when I think of examples of how life has been transformed in a moment by someone saying “I love you” or making one thoughtless decision to drink and drive, I can certainly see that transformation can occur in a moment. So what is on the edge of a transformative moment? Is it a feeling that life as one knows it is going to be totally altered? Could that be what your main figure is feeling?

    1. Yes. I think there are many ways to look at it. In the theatre there's a need to pinpoint moments - that may be why I think of it this way. Pinpoint the moment when everything is going to change. It comes down to decisions sometimes...