I had the pleasure of spending a lovely evening with a group of artists at the home of artist Pat Fairhead (one of her paintings is above). Pat is one of my earliest mentors in art. I took classes with her and she fueled my love for painting. Some of my happiest moments were spent in a classroom with an artist more passionate about painting than any other I have met.
Pat shared her history and her path as an artist. Art has taken Pat all over the world and to the place that dominates her paintings, the Canadian Arctic. Pat talked about her time at the Ontario College of Art and her development as an artist. One of her mentors was Franklin Carmichael of the Group of Seven. She told us that his advice to her was always to be original.
I spend a lot of time on my own working in isolation and to have the opportunity to share ideas and discuss art with others is something I cherish. The conversation moved to other artists, what we were reading and how we worked. In trying to articulate a part of my process, I realized there was a pattern to the way I function creatively.
Creativity can be like waves on an ocean, rolling in and out, some waves are predictable – some less so. As the water moves toward shore and it surface begins to build – that moment of greatest potential lies just before it breaks – the critical mass.
Ideas and inspiration are always around, but, for me, an idea moves from a loose concept and flows through my mind until it needs to be expressed. That critical mass for an idea lasts for only so long and it must be expressed or it passes the the inspiration fades. An idea not yet developed is as difficult to execute well as an idea past its time. The best, most original, work happens during that peak of the wave, the critical mass of potential and must be answered or be lost.