David Lynch on Creativity and Consciousness…

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By Celeste Hawkins 

It has been an interest of mine for some time to discuss the creative process and it’s relationship with the subconscious mind, also described by some as the unconscious. Some artists spend much of their career creating works from their subconscious. To me, this refers to the dream like state that could be entered through meditation.American Film director David Lynch spends a good half hour in a day going into a trancendental meditative state. This is why his films are arguably so obscure and unique in their plot and imagery. How much of his dialogue, imagery and even juxtaposition of scenes are consciously created?

Salvador Dali, Magriette and Frida Khalo created images often derived from the unconscious mind, such as dreams, apparitions and emotions. Currently, Australian artists like Del Kathryn Barton explore this domain and even Brisbane based artist Luisa Rossito spent a session under hypnosis.All these states are linked in the way that they are delving into the part of the brain often unexplored or exposed by many.

What is the difference between an artist who consciously plays around with images or the artist that dreams up images in the subconscious? Is this easily determined? What percentage is the conscious mind and how much is the sub conscious?

Now, heres another term that many of you may or not be familar with. David Lynch often talks about consciousness and how expanding this consciousness helps in the creative process.

 

Emerging Artist:Tom Vincent

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TOM VINCENT

  Tom is a young emerging artist from Melbourne. At the not so old age of 21, he is producing some beautiful geometric shape adorned canvases that are a sight for the eyes. As a teenager, Tom was really  interested in graffiti and spent 6 years developing his skills. He explains: “I was really fortunate to have a back wall of our house facing a lane way which enabled me to paint graffiti almost everyday. I then  finished school and was beginning to deal with the real world and more importantly the repercussions of doing illegal graffiti for over 6 years at that time.” Having an art studio for the last 3 and a half years has enabled Tom to progress and develop his fine art skills. He is now working on his first solo show and many other commercial projects.You can gain more of an insight into Tom’s world here.

What is your definition of creativity?

  I find creativity to be a very broad thing, It can be literally anything at all. But it all starts from a certain way of thinking, a headspace that is different from the next persons.

Do you have a consistency to your process of creating? Or does it change according to your state of being?

 I have somewhat of a consistency but it tends to vary from work to work. Sometimes I have a very basic idea of what I want to achieve but it takes a lot of polishing to get it to something I’m happy with. And other times I know exactly what I want to achieve and no planning is required at all; everything just falls into place and happens all too easy.

 Describe your usual creative process…is their a routine to how you compile your work?

 Every now and then I have an idea that is just too good for one piece. So it’s these ones that I look much deeper into and it will generally then form a body of work. This can take quite a bit of planning that I am constantly revising, tweaking and trying to improve. I will keep track of what I am doing and constantly be trying to improve it (as a whole) before I paint it.

Things that inform or feed your creativity…

It’s the everyday things that feed my creativity. I will see a scene from the train or something that catches my eye while I’m walking down the street. It may be a certain thought that gets me into that way of thinking and it’s on! But it’s never the same thing twice.

Who are your current influences?

At the moment, I am being influenced by Andy Goldsworthy and his work. But only because he is probably my favourite artist who is working with nature at the moment and I’m very influenced by Mother Nature.

Please choose a work and describe the process of that work from start to finish as an example:

The first task is to draw the piece onto the canvas, which can be a long or short process. Then, once I’m happy with the drawing and have looked at it enough, I can move onto painting. The drawing is essential, because if the drawing doesn’t look good its not going look good finished. I look for the piece to hold that certain magic element that is present in a good artwork. This is usually visible at this stage. But sometimes if I’m really confident in what I’m painting I won’t do a fully comprehensive drawing.Then I begin to fill in the shapes with colour; working slowly through a selected colour palate, mixing each colour as many possible ways as I can. Each shape is done to its fullest colour and could potentially be the only layer. I tend to work from the most detailed section to the least and completing the background last. Then once I have all the paint on the canvas I begin to go back over it cleaning it up and making sure that it is in a state I am happy with. This part can take as long if not longer than getting all the paint onto the canvas. After thorough study of the work I then decide if it is finished or not. I do not know how long this part can take. Its completed once I feel comfortable with it.

 How do you begin, when starting with a blank canvas?

I try to avoid just sitting down with a blank canvas and seeing where it goes. I find this can be quite stressful so I’d rather work on the ideas mentally then get the canvas organised once I’m ready to start on something I am confident with. Otherwise it will lead to too many decisions that tend to be rushed through, resulting in a piece I’m not happy with.

Do you ever reflect on your work, via journaling etc to  find out why you might have got stuck?

Yes I do, I keep a running journal. It’s a great way to keep check of progress and reflect on work. And to keep all those ideas in focus.

Have you ever experienced “artist block” and how have you overcome it?

 Yeah sure. I have off days all the time, sometimes more than others, sometimes I don’t have them for a long time. I just get out of the studio and do other activities, ideally go down the coast have surf and just get back to nature. That process continues until it clicks back into gear, then I am stressing about not being in the studio making work! It’s a fine line.

Do dreams or other dream like experiences play a role in your creative process?

 I have some dream like experiences that I like to then incorporate into my work, but I feel that these paintings will be never ending and feel like I am able to improve the work more and more. And I never get to an end with those works. I feel that dreams cannot be limited to a painting because it “caps” the dream. And dreams by nature are never limited.

Has the process of creation from any particular artist or artists that you might have read about, informed your approach to how you create your works?

Yes definitely. Seeing other artists’ work that is similar is always a good experience and then makes me reflect on how I work. There’s always a way to see something differently or to see what the result will be from doing it in a different manner. I think the overall process though is something that must be taken by you and crafted into something unique that works the best for yourself. Other people’s methods tend to not work so well for me.

It’s quite a personal thing that is vitally important in creating unique work.

Luisa Rossitto shares her creative process…

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By Celeste Hawkins

You can see more of Luisa’s work here 

 ‘Faintly-European’ Brisbane based artist Luisa Rossitto shares her deep connections with her work and how she draws on inspiring images and dreams to bring her ideas together. Her mediums of choice are watercolour on paper and she is currently working on her next show with Helen Gory  in Melbourne. Thirty year old Luisa defines creativity as: “an ability to see things, ideas and solutions that other people miss”, but believes that everyone possesses it to some degree, “whether they recognize it or not”.

  Do you have a consistency to your process of creating? Or does it change according to your state of being?

There is a certain structure to how I work. As with everything, I try to work on a rule of about sixty percent to plan, set a routine and schedule and about 40 percent left up to chance, folly, disaster and salvation!

 Describe your usual creative process…is their a routine to how you compile your work?

I usually start a new show by spending a day or two exposing myself to new imagery; literally flipping through a pile of books about a metre high, making snap decisions about which images I need to copy and which I don’t. New work invariably emerges from vignettes constructed from this ongoing stockpile of images.

 Make a list of the things that inform or feed your creativity…

Things I find on the ground, awkward photography, plastic figurines, clouds, flowers and leaves and dead branches, national geographic, horror movies, neuroscience, fifties advertising, caves, patterns printed on silk, folklore, idiomatic language, set design, fancy dress and stage performance.

 Current influences……

Lately I have been rediscovering my art school love for Niki de Sant Phalle, Henri Cartier-Bresson and David Shrigley. But I’m constantly stumbling upon new people I enjoy- Stacey Rozich I found just this morning catching up on my blog feeds.

Influences past…….

Nick Cave’s music was the first that really captured my attention as a teenager, and I still remember something he said in a biographical documentary I recorded onto VHS and replayed a million times. Though I don’t remember it word for word, he talked about the importance of staying true to your vision of things, knowing that at times you will rub shoulders with fashion and at other times you will not. His bravery in the things he does has always been great source of comfort.

 Luisa provides an example of the process behind her work:

 Spectrum disorder is a continuation of a theme I’ve visited a number of times. It explores the struggle between order and chaos, disruption and perversion, the existence of all things on a continuum between extremes. I began with an image of a models face from an advertisement. I made copies of the face, cut the face up the middle, pasted it in my diary, and experimented with drawing different representations of schism in the triangular space. I recalled an image I had collected a long time ago of fighting hatchlings, a cuckoo in a hostile takeover, and felt this added to the sense of internal struggle. I dug up two sources from my collection; an archival image of an Australian women’s pogo club and an image of children in fancy dress. I knew that I wanted to create a “cast” of characters across the composition. Colour use is also connected to the theme; rainbow hues connect to the spectrum theme, and the opposition of red and blue in the sunglass lenses represent the binary opposition in play. I love to use red and blue as opposing forces. In my mind, this always connects back to the secondary science textbook image of the heart, pumping oxygenated (red) and deoxygenated (blue) blood. The image at the centre, creating a crown, is based on the famous high speed photograph of a milk droplet, a lucky and victorious moment. Every image chosen tends to have a history and story of its own, as well as a meaning to lend to the overall composition.

  How do you begin, when starting with a blank canvas?

I will typically have a rough plan, drawn in my journal, which will comprise about 60 percent of the final work. I start by sketching out the main sections of the image onto my surface, and then begin painting these areas while I contemplate what will take place in areas of the work yet to be resolved. The types of images I make are too exacting, not compatible with someone who experiences “white fright” or fear of the blank canvas or paper. I make myself dive in there.

 Do you ever reflect on your work, for example through journaling, to find out why you might have got stuck?

I have a very active critical voice. This reflective process is normally alive and well even as I’m working on the image. I always consider what I might have done instead but know that I have to trust my largely instinctive decision making processes if I am to avoid inertia

 Have you ever experienced “artist block” and how have you overcome it?

I don’t experience this in terms of ideas- I have never been at a loss for new material or themes that interest me- but I do have trouble sometimes deciding which are the ideas to act upon and which are not. Again, the ability to trust in myself and the outcome has been something I’ve had to actively nurture. I accept that while this doesn’t always work, the amount of times that it does validate this process. The worst thing I can do for my practice is to do nothing- something is always better than nothing.

Do dreams or other dream like experiences play a role in your creative process?

Definitely. I often get the answers to issues in a work in the short window of time between lying down and sleep. I’ve become so good at it that I can tap into this headspace almost at will, sitting upright at my desk. I also drew under hypnosis at an art gallery in New Zealand- embarrassing, but delivered me the key to a resolved work.

 Has the process of creation from any particular artist or artists that you might have read about, informed your approach to how you create your works?

Not exactly, but I recently read a little about Chuck Close in a psychology magazine which reinforced the importance of intrinsic motivations in creating work. I didn’t realise he had a condition, prosopagnosia, which prevents him from remembering and recognising peoples faces. Of course, you don’t need to know this to enjoy the amazing photorealistic paintings of faces that he creates, but we have this to thank for his fervor and his passion for making work.