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Translating Creative Thought to Reality

How is your creative thought translation process? Like when you think of something creative you want to do how close is the product to the initial thoughts? For me it is usually significantly different, but that has some to do with the fact that my brain is full of thoughts so getting a clear picture of something is, well, murky at best.

I’ve had to learn to accept what the process brings almost regardless of the differences from the seedling thought. I used to struggle with acceptance a lot more. It was a failure on my part as an artist that what I produced didn’t match what was in my head. Perfectionism at it’s worst.

It kept me from putting pen to paper so many times and in so many ways. On a related note it also made me tell myself that I wasn’t an artist because of how infrequently I put pen to paper in the pursuit of art. Not true! Putting pen to paper (or tablet or whatever) is important but not so important that if you have a different way of approaching the practice that that different way is not also valid.

You have got to trust the process. I think any artist will tell you that there will be a phase of every (and I mean EVERY) piece you make where it is going to look…bad…like should you even keep going? Because what is on the page does not look presentable, not even a little bit. Breathe and keep going, I promise it will get better. You may need to put the piece away for a bit (maybe forever, that’s ok, too) and come back later but building the trust in the process, in yourself as a creative, is important.

When I was chatting about this with my therapist she shared this lovely quote and while I don’t know that all of it is fully true for me the entire feel of it is so beautiful. It is something I’m meditating on as I continue to cultivate holistic creativity.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Martha Graham

Sometimes I have so many ideas that there is truly not enough time or space to fit them all in. Sometimes I simply don’t have the time nor energy to make it through all of the stages of an art piece. Part of it is learning to find the right balance for me in my life. Creating a life that is built for creating art.

For me part of that life includes understanding that I don’t often have the time (or patience, or attention) to sit and do a lot of sketching. I just don’t. What I do, though, is think about how I might sketch or paint something. I think without fully realizing it I’ve got thought processes that have layers like most of my art pieces. There is a sketch layer, a linework layer, color layers, shadows, highlights. I don’t tend to really pull them apart and look at individual layers but I can. And sometimes they are a little (or a lot) discordant, like with any art piece at certain mid-process stages.

It also requires understanding how your thought to reality translation works. An example/analogy that I love and will never forget comes from Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. She uses the idea of putting things in a blender, all of your life experiences, things you watched, just whatever parts and things that make up your life. Some people’s creative or translation process puts the blender on a higher setting and what comes out has little to no relation to the things that went in. Some process at a lower level and you can clearly see the connections. Neither is bad or wrong, it just is. Understanding this is so helpful in embracing self and creativity.

So, everyone’s translation is different. Just because your initial idea is vastly different than what ends up in reality doesn’t mean that you are not creative, not an artist. Creativity is not just for those that have an easier creative translation method/process. I’ve often hated how murky and difficult my translation of creative thought is but I’m learning to embrace it. Just as I’m learning to work with my whole self the way I need. Acceptance is magic. Difficult magic, powerful magic.

I hope you can find your acceptance and your magic.

with much love,


PS. The Black Knight succulent is getting closer and closer to blooming. Super excited to see it in all its glory. The blooms will be bright red and you can see them peeking through the buds now. I just hope it likes the rain because we are likely going to be getting a lot more rain now that it is fall in Oregon. I did check though and this is the right season for it to be blooming, late summer to early fall, so fingers crossed it stays happy and blooming!

PPS. This is "late" because I relaxed and gamed all weekend. The hubs and I have been thoroughly enjoying Baldur's Gate 3 and we just had to play as much as possible over this last weekend. It was rejuvenating for both of has been a long while since we've really had the time or bandwidth to game like this. It was wonderful, would recommend!

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