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Creative Destruction

At a recent abstract course I was reaching for words to describe the process I use in abstract art or any art for that matter—a state of mind which I have come to appreciate over the years—in which I alter, at times destroy, the stuff I've laid down.

I recognize in my students the hesitation, even fear of this process. As the painting emerges we look so desperately for something we love that we indulge it, let it hang around, play it safe.

After many years of this I can now recognize over-attachment creeping up on me. When I feel it leaning into my ear, whispering, “that part is really beautiful…surely you are not going to paint over it….” or, when I am writing…”no one ever said that so well—how could you ever edit it out?” that is when I know I have to consider getting rid of it, or at least messing it up. In writing I’ve heard it called “murdering your darlings.” The reason it is important to do this is that we become so attached to a tiny piece that we can’t see the needs of the whole. I think of it as creative destruction.

I have become attached to this process. I love the surprises it creates, I love the rich and textured surfaces that emerge.

Of course, it can get out of hand. Here is a large landscape painting I did a few years ago.


 And here it is now.

 I love the abstract (as you can see it appears in my banner) but I should have put that landscape away and given it some time to let me love it!

 By the way, when I googled creative destruction I find that it is an economic term:

Creative destruction refers to the incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones. It was coined by Joseph Schumpeter (1942), who considered it 'the essential fact about capitalism'.



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    Alison Watt, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC - Blog - Creative
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