Posts Tagged: creative process

Monster Walleye & Unwinding

Dear Creative Heart,

I’m sending out this letter a couple of days later in the month than I usually write. We just got back from our summer vacation.

This is what I did on my summer vacation…

Monster Walleye Ontario, Canada June 2016

Monster Walleye
Ontario, Canada
June 2016

Yes, we fish. We go to a beautiful cabin by lake in Canada and fish. Fish for “monster walleye” as my boys like to say. What you see here is me with one of my monster walleyes (I caught a few and a nice big pike too). Check out that huge fish in my hand and my big smile of accomplishment, but what I want to point out is what you don’t see in this photo…

What you don’t see is all the hard work to get to this point…all the steps involved in getting this smiling photo with a big fish from a fishing trip…

  1. Schedule: There is the rearranging of the schedule-the saying “No” to some really great things to carve a space for a family trip with the boys.
  2. Time: There is never a “perfect time” to go but putting time on the calendar and committing-there were sacrifices for all of us to be able to set this time away to go and sacrifices for those who prepare for our arrival.
  3. Logistics: Travel, gas, groceries, passports, cleaning out the van
  4. Gear: Rods, reels, heavier fishing line, nets, jig heads, minnow bucket, cold gear, gloves, sweatshirts, life jackets, tackle boxes, trips to Bass Pro and Fleet & Farm, Canadian fishing licenses, live minnows, sunglasses, bug spray, sunblock
  5. In the Boat: Actually getting in the boat-gathering all that equipment, putting on all the cold/wet gear, grabbing the poles and tackle, walking to the dock and getting in the boat (rather than a nap or card game or leisurely breakfast-which we did too:)
  6. Fishing: So many ways this process gets complicated-getting minnows out of the bucket and actually on the hook (rather than swimming in the bottom of the boat!), tying jig heads on line again (getting harder to see that minuscule hole to put the line through), wet socks/shoes, underwater rocks/sticks, poor casting (possibly due to a bad reel-time for a new one!), boat motor issues, bad weather cropping up
  7. A complete circle-all the planning, scheduling, gathering supplies, actual time with pole in the water fishing, persistence amidst obstacles, and then the goal…pole in water, sunshine gleaming off the rocks and waterfalls, shouts of “Fish On”, fish in net and then in the hand, laughter, sharing the catch and the fun.
Unwinding 24 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas Melynda Van Zee © 2016

Unwinding
24 x 48
Acrylic on Canvas
Melynda Van Zee © 2016

And so it is with creativity and making…

When someone walks into my art booth and admires a finished work, they don’t necessarily grasp all the steps required for that piece to hang before their eyes. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “How long does it take you to finish a painting like that?” That is an extremely difficult question for artists to answer. How do you account for all the of the labor involved in each piece from conception, beginning sketches, gathering supplies, multiple layers of paint and dry time, to stopping and starting and analyzing along the way, to finishing details like final layers of isolation coat, painting sides black, two protective coats of varnish, titles, and hanging wires? How do you factor in the care and feeding of the artist-emotionally, physically, spiritually? What about the sacrifices of others who help and support our creative processes? (Not only did my grandparents teach me to fish as a child, but they also helped me order my first paintbrushes from an art catalog). All of these tasks and steps are hidden inside each of the paintings on the wall and behind each snapshot of a smiling fisherman with a prize fish in hand.

Dear Creative Heart-don’t underestimate the system of tasks and steps that support your creativity. Dedicate time to finding your own “monster walleye” and please share the big smile with us all.