“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – Reflections on my creative journey

“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – These words definitely caught my attention when I recently saw them posted on the FB Page of On Being with Krista Tippett!  http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-vital-obstacles-in-the-creative-process/6311#comment-add-form

It is counter-intuitive to associate obstacles with any kind of positive light, yet it can be. I know that, deep down. And I learned that early on in my art practice. As a matter of fact, reading the following quote by Wendel Berry really brought my creative journey into view and made me pause and reflect about the energizing role obstacles have in my creative journey.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”

I came to creating art from that point very point of not knowing what to do!  As a new transplant to Montreal, Canada, I was looking for something to do. That’s when I came across the description of a course about creativity that caught my eye. Little did I know at the time that signing onto this class would lead to a journey of cultivating creativity on many different levels.

I knew very little beyond some high school art class about art, materials. So I was definitely stepping into unknown territory at the time, with little to no expectation but one, to try and see.  And try and see I did, over a few months, then year, then years and I have kept going ever since.

Try and see. That’s my motto.  And in the process what really I got trained in is the art of founding my way around obstacles and into new territories. I learned that early on. When I started painting, using brushes felt awkward in my hand, so one day I stopped. And I started using socks instead! The socks really did it for me! I had a more immediate contact with my painting surface. As a result, I felt freer with my gestures. I found an ease and it made my creative explorations fun and liberating.

I see my creative explorations as encounters where obstacles turned out to be  catalyst for change, and stepping stones for new found partners in materials, techniques. Early on, I found that using canvas was getting in my way, so I switched to paper. That was a very happy change for me. I found a whole new range of gestures and mark making. I could draw on it, paint on it, collage, stitch, print. It is a material that really took me, and still does take me, on many creative explorations. And I love that.

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Red Hot Purpleness – Encaustic, pastel, dictionary page – Karen Chaussabel

 

Tree of Life serie

Encaustic, pastel, pencil on amate paper – Tree of Life Serie – Karen Chaussabel

Stitching my heart out - K. Chaussabel

Stitching my Heart out – Thread, silk, pen on paper-  K. Chaussabel

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Paper, thread, encaustic, pastel, ink  Mixed Media – Au coeur – Karen Chaussabel

In the process, I find what works, often because of what doesn’t.  When I signed up for dry point printmaking, I discovered that doing quick gestural work is hard. Making a mark with the etching needle on copper plate requires a stronger touch and one that involves friction. Both went against the grain for me and that made me realize how much I cherish fluidity in material and process! It challenged me to find my way. And I did, with chine collé. The first time I dutifully went by the rules of keeping the thin rice paper within the confine of my printing plate. After that I took a certain pleasure of picking paper larger than my printing plate. I also started using different types of paper, including paper I had painted on before.

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Mixed Media Dry Point – Untitled – Karen Chaussabel

The best discovery in playing outside the box was the star-filled-evening-sky effect I got from using cyanotype paper for chine collé!

Red Wood Constellation

Red Wood Constellation – Dry Point Chine Collé – Karen Chaussabel

I have to say at the time I felt a great sense of having overcame a challenge. And with it came a sense of having stayed true to myself. That was a great learning moment and one that became a compass for me. I learned to flow around the obstacle, I learned to find my way. I consider that a very valuable skill -in art and life.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses to ““The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – Reflections on my creative journey

  1. akismet-05104e1536827c7853ebf26f8d4fff44

    Really nice post, Karen……..and so true. I must remind myself of this as I head off to art colony with materials I have problems with lately.

    • Hi Cheryl! – Thank you for your comment. I happy that my sharing is speaking to you. And I hope it will reach many others as I feel it is an empowering view.
      For me, the On Being conversation really brought on a powerful insight on the creative role of obstacles in my art but also life. I love such moments where inspiration just floats up to the surface and comes into presence! I also smiled, deep down, recognizing the element of fluidity in this perspective. Finding the flow, moving around obstacles like water does is something I learned from my Qigong practice. And no wonder I like working with fluid materials, ink, encaustic, thread – clay to some degree too. The image of flowing water is present in my art but also my life and it certainly engages all parts of me! I am just grateful I have art making as a way to explore, experience and practice finding flow! It is quite a useful tool, a life skill!
      Keep the conversation with your materials, the explorations within your process, no doubt they have much to offer to you and those around you! Best wishes.

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