In contemporary critical art-speak circles, it’s quite fashionable to talk about whether an artist’s work is concept driven or process driven. Concept driven work refers to artists who start with an idea concerning meaning and everything else follows: design, medium, process, technique, etc are secondary. Process driven refers to artists whose work is led by a creative process such as painting or forging with meaning and design bound, at least initially, in how the artwork is formed.
Like a lot of popular labels, this division is hopelessly binary, yet it persists. Ironically, these labels are most often tossed around be people who dislike having binary labels slapped on them.
If someone is determined to slap one of these labels on me, then “process driven” certainly applies. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it hadn’t become a put-down, with concept driven artists and artwork being falsely seen by many as a superior way to work. I also hate labels in general because I dislike being pigeon-holed.
Last week, I was talking with someone about passion projects when I amended the term, making up a new term on the spot: passion process. Passion projects have ups and downs like a steep mountainous terrain. They can be slow to start and tough to keep going uphill but feel totally worth it at the apex. They are the award winners and the interview highlights. They are low stakes if you keep them quiet while in progress but high stakes in the time and resources they often require. Sometimes, the thought of working on one of mine can get me out of bed in the mornings, but more often than not, they take a fair amount of self-coaching talk to tackle each time I work on them, even when they’re going well.
Passion processes are another matter.
About a year ago, I woke up to the reality that creative processes and not the big lofty concepts literally get me out of bed in the morning. I wake up, thinking whether it’s 6 AM or 10 AM, that it’s just too early to have to get up and am tempted to stay under the covers while doom scrolling news, which only serves to further screw up my neck pain and depress me that I live among the science-denying, unmasked masses.
If there is not a dog standing on my abdomen begging me to play, then it’s the thought of drawing in graphite and colored pencil that gets me out from under the covers. The glide of the pencils across the paper in my hand-bound journal, the light to dark values of gray and the often blue or purple tones that I lay over them is literally what gets me going even more than the shapes or subject matter. Last week I got totally thrilled with using tea and onion skins to dye hot press watercolor paper in soft warm tones. Just laying the paper in the trays and watching their color change made me happy. If that makes me “special,” so be it.
Sure, I can get into a flow state working on a big project, however, it’s something as fundamental as the feel of that graphite on paper or the slight sinking of metal into warm pitch that gets me moving toward tackling the so called important work. I wouldn’t demean the feeling by calling it a mere warm up. If I’m totally honest, getting to work in the processes I love and learning a few new ones along the way, is the goal. That it sometimes leads to finished work is just what keeps a roof over my head so I can keep getting lost in the never ending processes.
What’s your favorite creative process?
Upcoming Online WOrkshops
Wondering what is the difference between my live online Granulation Ring class and my Granulation Demystified class on Craftsy’s platform?
- In this class you’ll create 2 ring projects: One is a small granulation sample soldered to a wire granulation shank. The other is a cluster granulation ring like Nebula II, the sterling ring with an amethyst (see the product gallery images above).
- The demos are all in 4K. The camera work is not quite as fancy as on the Craftsy class, but the resolution is super sharp and clear. You’ll have access to these 4K demos outside of class, so no matter what your internet connection is like or what Zoom does, you’ll be able to see incredible detail.
- The timing on soldering and fusing in this class is a bit more like real life (and less edited to fit Craftsy’s class formula).
- This class will not cover the trick for mirrored pairs of earrings.
- This class does cover corrugated wire patterns for shanks in more depth
- I demo how to weld granules with a Micro TIG welder in addition to fusing them, and I give an overview of how I incorporated that process to create ‘Majestic’ the gold and silver pyramid ring with the pink tourmaline on top (see the product gallery images above).
- The big difference: You can sign in with a 2nd device aimed at your bench, and I can coach you live on fusing your projects. I’ve coached this way many times since pivoting to online teaching, and it’s worked great for lots of students!
- Looking for more advanced granulation projects? I’m currently developing another granulation class for which this class, my Craftsy class, or a previous in-person granulation workshop from me will be required. The advanced class is planned for late 2022.
Can’t be there live? No problem!
- Each class session will be recorded and each student will receive a password protected link to the both the live class recordings and the individual detailed demos with access to everything for 30 days.
- You’re welcome to email me questions between sessions or after the class.