The creative process in art

The creative process in art

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A behind the scenes chat with Eden King reveals the creative process in art and how one can’t simply turn on the creative tap at any given point in time.

Taken with permission from Jurgen Dunhofen Art site


Art plays many roles. It can educate, entertain and comfort. Alexandre Erre says “Art must come with some educational benefit, the audience and the artist must be able to learn something, experience a new perspective on a topic or have a renewed interest for it…” 

Art often acts as a mirror and helps the viewer relate to the artist or artwork.  

Art isn’t created in a void. It becomes a response to all types of stimuli, offering artists catharsis and therapy, responding to challenges and needs in their lives. Whether the focus is on the process or the result we cannot forget the link between art and artist. “I don’t think about art while I work,” Basquiat told writer Isabelle Graw in 1986. “I try to think about life.”

What intentions do artists have for their artworks and for themselves? Where does art end and life begin? We reached out to Eden King to find out more about the creative process in art, and boy, did she deliver!

Eden King: Love your other
Eden King, Bazique mural

Cosmic Confusion

King’s writing style is witty and visceral; I allow her to hold your hand throughout the text, exploring the creative process in art.

“In recent times, I find it increasingly difficult to whip up a product of my creativity the way that I used to. My relationship with creation has had to take a reluctant back-seat as other, more immediate urges to maintain a balanced life have emerged. Currently I feel as though my approach to creativity is rapidly evolving in order to keep up with the pace of adult life, something I do both begrudgingly and with a vague sense of relief. The burden of telling myself I must always create has alleviated in the face of alternate priorities, and I find myself having compassion for the parts of me which have often (in the past) felt pressured into creating rather than joyfully spurting forth. But creativity is fickle, and does not take well to a forced hand. I am now in the process of gently pandering to her restful desires before attempting to fully coax her out of the cave…let’s see how that goes.”

King’s self-nurturing calmly speaks of a pursuit not only to understand herself but to strike a balance in her life. Adaption in the face of the unknown is vital. As things change around us, so do we. Placing herself in an environment rich with creative possibility she patiently waits for the stars to align. The creative process in art is not always straightforward, nor predictable.

Navigation By Nature

Nature can be a great source of guidance and direction. By familiarising ourselves with certain techniques we have the ability to orientate ourselves within this world. For example, looking at a cross section of a tree, not only do the circular rings reveal the age of a tree, with one ring equal to one year of growth, but we are able to find north and south using the distance between each ring.

When observing a cross section in the Southern Hemisphere, the rings that are closer to one side indicate south, and where they are further apart, that is north (In the Northern Hemisphere it is the opposite). Trees seek out maximum sunlight and the side that sees more of it, strengthens more. As we look to the trees and sun for guidance, let’s turn our eyes to more beacons of light in the night sky.

The cosmos
Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash

The stars that make up the formation of The Hunter with a sword and belt are spectacular in the night sky, especially as The Three Marys or Three Sisters that form the belt are some of the brightest stars in the sky. Catching Orion during mid-summer at around 10 pm, if you follow his sword to the horizon, despite any degree of haze and as distant as Orion might appear, you will find due south (this applies to the southern hemisphere).

It is easier to navigate ourselves if we know what to look out for.

Being outside and far away from everything, nature is one of King’s happiest places. She appreciates nature’s harsh circular stories and its perfect, functioning chaos. Beyond nature’s offer of guidance and direction, its harmony can put one at ease, ultimately bringing out our best. For King, being in nature plays a key role in the creative process in art.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

A Trail Of Loud, Colourful Breadcrumbs

“I have actually been able to keep somewhat engaged with making art by following a trail of loud, colourful breadcrumbs left by the festival world. Creating art for festivals is fun and mostly non-serious. The creative license is more extensive than you’ll find in most accessible creative exploits, and the cost is often little more than an unshaded workspace and the dubiously ongoing comedown incited by living on the festival site for over a week (nobody parties like a festival rigger). The most recent one I participated in was Bazique. I attended last year as a caterer for the festival crew, and just about melted with envy upon seeing all the incredible paintings erected by what seemed to be everyone but me, and immediately begged the organiser to put me on the list for 2020. It was done.” 

Cosmic Oneness

“Sometimes getting a story out is like turning on a tap and sometimes it’s like squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. 

Today is a toothpaste day.” 

Adam Douglas

King continues, “I’d had exactly one year to prepare for what I thought would be my first festival mural. A whole year! What luck! I shall sketch from dusk until dawn every day for 365 days and blow the goddamn minds of every spectator in my wake! Or so I thought. Of course, this meant becoming thoroughly distracted by the various aspects of survivalism in the city and flailing wildly in the choppy seas of creative desperation (yuck).

My friend, I would love to give you a full-bodied, concise answer as to the exact steps in my creative process, but the truth is there are none. Sometimes, I go months without finishing a single doodle. I’ll work myself up into a trite, identity-less mess and furiously make a finger painting on my wall while crying. Sometimes, I’ll make a toe-painting – don’t laugh, but this is something I’ve found truly helpful for both the mind and the dexterity of my big toe. Anything to get the juices flowing.”  

Alan Watts gives a great insight about treating work as play. He says “The art of washing dishes is that you only have to wash one at a time. If you’re doing it day after day you have in your mind’s eye an enormous stack of filthy dishes which you have washed up in years past and an enormous stack of filthy dishes which you will wash up in years future, but if you bring your mind to the state of reality which is only now, this is where we are, you only have to wash one dish, it’s the only dish you’ll ever have to wash…you… turn the cleaning movement into a dance… and you swing that plate around and you let the rinsing water go over it, you put it in the rack, …take the next one and you get this rhythm going… You’re not under compulsion all the time.”

The Eden King mural

King describes the process of planning her mural. Had she opened the creative tap?

 “One amiable day, I got high in my bedroom and sat lamely on the floor with an A3 sketchbook before me. I destroyed page after page with meaningful/less (really depends on your philosophical disposition) words and symbols which I found myself attracted to until an overarching theme began to naturally form. Not very unexpectedly, the themes were dualism, contrast, and identity confusion – sentiments which are often on my mind but emerged that day as bolder. I picked up my pencil and completed the shell of an idea and I liked it enough that I decided to harass my poor housemate multiple times a week leading up to the festival in order to use the almighty Procreate on her coveted iPad (one day you’ll be mine, you exquisite piece of junk).”

Eden King planning mural
Eden King planning mural

The Stars Align

“After seasons of immense dissatisfaction and drawing lots of silly faces with a stylus, I arrived at something that could be considered mildly usable. I then continued on with life, knowing that come the week of departure, any efforts I would have made to complete the design would be thwarted by a sudden desire to change everything. I was right, and I rolled with it. As one does.” 

King concludes “In the end I conceived and eventually laboured another strange and unneeded creation into the world (adding to the collective cosmic confusion, I’m sure) before bathing in the sweet, sumptuous juices of satisfaction. This time, I filled the greens in before the yellows. Next time, I might do it backwards, or upside down. In fact, I hope I do, because I am not even close to the artistic orgasm of my creative journey, and baby, variety is the spice of life.” 

Eden King: Love your other
Eden King: Love your other

Make sure to visit Eden King’s Instagram page and Medium.

Ultimately, art which incites an inward journey or asks us to take brave steps on a path not fully lit, guided by symbols of commonality and driven by our own pursuit of knowledge and understanding is art that places tools in the viewer’s hands, encouraging enlightenment, training ourselves to see the signs.

Perhaps much of the illumination of King’s art is in the process of making it and if we need encouragement in following our own trail of breadcrumbs we can look to her art to orientate ourselves in this crazy world.

The creative process in art is different for everyone but one thing all have in common is the unpredictable “loss” of creativity and then the finding of it to create something beautiful. See the process followed by Thurlo Adams in his art.

Think about this post when viewing this art.