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Creative Enquiries

Yesterday, I spent a few hours in my studio just pottering about.

It was lovely.

I must do it more.

By 'pottering' I mean that I was 'arting' but with no plan, aim or intention...well, that's a bit of a lie as I sort of had an idea in my head but it was in need of developing. I rarely have time to work like this and it was such a luxury.

A few days previously, I scribbled down the image of some birds that had come to me in that twilight/dozing sort of time between wake and sleep and wanted to experiment with some ideas of turning it into a larger piece. So...I drew birds, real and imagined, I painted some birds as negative spaces, I cut out birds from old sheets of paper, I drew random bird-like shapes on old bits of paper and scribbled on them. All the time I was hoping my idea might take flight.

As I worked, answers to the questions I had about colour, composition etc. started to present themselves in my mind but the piece, by the end of the day, was not completely resolved. It didn't matter at all to me as I was having a nice time with my growing pile of feathered friends.

When I came back into the house, my daughter's boyfriend asked me if I'd had a good day and what I'd been up to and I told him all about the afternoon's avian exploits.

'Why would you do that? What is the point?'' He asked

It was a good question...why?

'I guess there is no point...and that's the point,' I replied 'it's an enquiry'

An enquiry (not to be mistaken with an 'inquiry' which is more official) is an informal investigation.

I like this term.

I have been thinking about it a while now after to chatting to an artist called Simon who had temporarily taken over a studio neighbouring mine. He was staying in the local area, the place in which he had grown up but subsequently moved away from. His father had recently died and he felt it was important to reconnect with his roots by means, he said, of a 'creative enquiry'.

He would make the time in his day to walk, sit, look, think and meditate in the landscape he'd known as a boy and then respond to questions that arose in his mind. His art grew out of this and formed a body of work that was abstract and experimental.

I think a creative enquiry is solely process led (or instigated) that is to say, that the end result is a product of its means. It the process that is important...process over perfection.

It is liberating and exciting to start a creative enquiry because you are not sure what will happen and where the journey will take you. It is also a creative kindness to your inner artist (who needs to be treated, incidentally, in the same way that you would nurture and look after a small child).

How would you begin a creative enquiry?

Well, you might have a small thought or idea that you are curious about.

You may not.

Either way you should take action!

Action can be in the form of many things but it must be physical action rather than just thinking about it.

Moving the body will move the mind...guaranteed!

How do I take action??

Action could be in the form of further research:

  • Reading a book

  • Visiting a gallery or museum

  • Going on a walk

  • Visiting a place where there is lots of people

  • Visiting a place where there are few people

  • Reading books you enjoyed as a child

  • Visiting somewhere that you have never been to before

Action could be in the form of creative play:

  • Making a scrapbook of images and colours that you like cut out from magazines

  • Starting a daily diary/journal

  • Scribbling and doodling with art materials

  • Testing out the colours in your watercolour set

  • Playing with art materials you bought years a go and scribbling a page of colour

  • Cutting out coloured scraps of paper and making an abstract collage

There's a rule...any action you take MUST be done on you own. Do these things without distractions (no audio books, tv, music, radio or loved ones loitering, please)

As you are taking your action, listen.

Listen carefully to the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head. Some might be utter rubbish but maybe one will make you curious or provide a stepping stone to another action or thought....this, my friend, is your next line of enquiry!

At no point should you feel guilty or put pressure on yourself to create anything at all...just follow your nose and enjoy where your creative enquiry takes could be a very exciting journey...a creative and magical mystery tour!


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