How Creativity Happens by Carol Nelson

We are the sum of our experiences.  Since I frequently work in mixed media, my paintings are often composed of paint plus "other materials."  My latest painting is called "C1 - Latch Hook."  The C stands for Combination.
C1 - Latch Hook

side view

If you think this is the start of a new series, you are right.  My mixed media paintings are getting more and more "mixed."  That is, I seem to be finding more altered or re-purposed things and found objects to put into them.

This painting has numerous wood components, printed/painted papers, and odds 'n ends I found in my garage.  This painting is technically a 2D piece because it hangs on the wall, but in all other aspects, it is 3D.

It is approximately 12 inches high, 8 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep.  It's a wall sculpture.  You want to touch it.  You want to hook the latch - I like that little kinetic touch.

I am often asked, How do you THINK of these things?  That's the creativity part.  I was dreaming/thinking about this piece before I got up the other day, and I was able to trace all the things I had done or seen in the last few months that lead up to the creation of this piece:

1.  I had been reading the fascinating biographies on Since I did not study art in college, this site offers a wealth of art history in an easy to read format.

2. I am especially interested in the abstract expressionists.  I took a workshop, sponsored by Golden (paints), about the AbEx painters of the mid 20th century several months ago.

3. I am interested in some of the paintings done by Robert Rauschenberg, especially his "combines," which are mixed media collage work.

4.  I was at an art show a few months ago at the Madden Museum of Art in metro Denver.  There, I saw a huge Rauschenberg painting with a chair sticking out of it!

5.  In a workshop I gave a few months ago, a student showed me a cool pin she was wearing which was a "steam punk" design.  I noticed a similarly fascinating piece of jewelry on another student at my art show a week ago.  This genre of jewelry has numerous small parts, vintage clock gears, brass fittings, etc. that combine to make a pleasing design.

6. The latest issue of The Artist's Magazine (July/August 2012) has a story on the work of Crystal Michaelson on p. 82.  Look on p. 84 at her piece titled Construction Series 1, Number One.  I love this piece, with it's multitude of collage elements, and especially her disregard for the constraints of the rectangle.  WHO SAYS A PAINTING HAS TO BE AN EXACT SQUARE OR RECTANGLE?

Mix the above experiences 1-6 in my head, and out comes this latest mixed media painting...or is it a sculpture?  As I said earlier, we are the sum of our experiences, especially where creativity is involved.

For more information on this painting, click here to go to my website.


Bren said...

What a fascinating piece, and what a lead in to how your mind put it together. Excite stuff this new series and direction!

Jean Baardsen said...

I like your new work, and I enjoyed reading your story. If it's fun for you, then you know you're on the right track!

Siggi in Downeast Maine said...

I have seen some 3 dimensional paintings but never had the skills to do one...this one is awesome.
Thank you for sharing.
Siggi in Downeast Maine

Carol Watson said...

What an inspiration you are! Thank you for being prolific and daring with your art and sharing the steps that got you to doing this piece. I've heard some artists say you need to stick to one style and as a result find myself limiting the expansion of what I might be tempted to try. You, however, are proof that doing what moves at any particular time is what art and creativity are all about. Thank you, Carol, for sharing what you do and who you are. A devoted fan ...

Carol Nelson said...

Carol W. - you made my day.
I think it IS true that sticking with an identifiable style will help you career get established. All artists evolve, however, and their style changes to a greater or lesser degree as time goes on.

Carol Nelson said...

Thanks, everyone, for the validation. I love to play.

Gutsy Arts Girl said...

Carole, of course this is what keeps us fresh, alive, vivid, reflective and gives us something to say with what we do.
And you say it so well.
THAT IS WHAT I AM DOING in August. I am coming to study with you. OH how lucky am I!

Anonymous said...

This is really cool!

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

love everything about this one.