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December 18, 2010

Creativity without the end in sight

On multiple occasions, more often than not, I will be doing an art project and something will go wrong. For instance, when I was woodcarving a small object I accidentally pressed too hard with the knife and cut a corner off the piece I was working on. My first instinct was to throw it away and start all over, even though I had already put several hours into the carving. I had a firm design or goal in mind when I started carving. I planned it, I drew the lines on the wood, I cut the shape, I began carving, and then ruined it.
Instead of throwing it away though, I began troubleshooting. I asked now what? I thought about gluing, but this would be in a very visible spot on the carving and I was going to stain it. Glue resists stain, so didn't want to do that. Then I had the idea of balancing it out by cutting off all of the corners to make it symmetrical. Beautiful! I did it and moved on. I finished that piece and it looks amazing. It's not anything like what I originally envisioned but I created instead a unique piece of artwork that I had not planned.
Today I experienced the same creative process. I was drilling a hole and the piece of wood broke free and began spinning around with the drill bit. In turn, it broke free from the drill bit and launched itself against the floor! I picked it up and looked at this wasted hour's worth of work with more than a little frustration clouding my vision. I was resolved to throw it away and start over when I saw a ring sitting on my table next to it. I held the ring up to my broken piece and thought, well, maybe if I attach this ring to it in the broken spot. No, but maybe if I cut out the shape of this ring to remove the broken spot entirely. YES! I ended up with a totally new design and shape, and proceeded to create a totally unique piece that I never would have dreamed up from scratch! Just like all the other times this has happened, I had a plan to start with. Every creative process starts with some kind of idea, but I do not always see the end result until I solve the problems along the way.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM