Observation and reflection:
One cannot over emphasise the importance of reflection upon creative practice. Like any muscle or skill, its important we take time to practice our skills of critical analysis and reflection, observation, and evaluation.Its important we take time to observe, consider and evaluate. And due to the cruelly ephemeral nature of creative practice, without periods of reflection one can miss the fleeting, potentially poignant and significant elements. Upon reflection, we give ourselves time to digest and consider the results of our labour and our actions.
Having reflected upon a recent visit to the studio and the work i created (see post: Studio Diary 31/01), I was able to see connections with a body of work i created a number of years ago. These works not only shared a similar aesthetic, and reflected formal elements as texture, shape and mark, but also mirrored each other in their processes of creation and methods of production. Without having spent this time I would have missed a considerably poignant connection with my past work, but perhaps more importantly, failed to have identified shared values and concerns between these two distinctly separate bodies of work and periods in my practice.
Creativity rarely happens in a straight line. More accurately, our practice travels the path of a spiral, never revisiting exactly, but treading similar ground from a different approach (perspective). Events and experiences shape and mould our lives, so as one grows and develops, so does ones artistic sensibility and approach. We may not re-visit something ‘exactly’ again, but if its been important and prominent at one stage, its likely it will again in one shape or another. Elements may not appear in the same guise, but none the less if they were once relevant and important, the odds are they will appear again.
We need to be observant towards our practice and evaluate our actions and the parameters in which we are working. It’s important to be alert and intuitive, working ‘in the moment’, open to external influences, or moments of chance and accident. We need to be open to to ‘listen’ to the work. The most important teacher we have is the work itself; Its startling how often the answer is before our very eyes, we just aren’t looking and listening to it.
After periods of productivity we must take periods of reflection; take time to observe it and consider it, what happened, and why? what was different from before?
Upon reading back over some notes I made on a recent visit to the studio (see post: Studio Diary: 31/01), and reflecting upon the events that gave rise to them, I cant help but think towards Brian Eno’s and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies, and smile at the profound accurateness and succinct articulation of their suggestions. A result of years of creative practice and toil, and an immense thoughtfulness and consideration about their, and creative practice in a wider sense – these cards can be eerily accurate, almost resembling premonitions in their ability to point the way or provide a solution.
We can be given all the pointers and hints in the world, but its how we respond to, interpret, and embrace them that counts – and ultimately matters…