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  • Bianca Vinther

3 Secrets about the art-making process + my creative process revealed (part I)

Discover the truth & the 3 main secrets about the art-making process, and get an insider's view into my current work

+ 3 extra tips on how to be more creative in drawing.

What’s your path to outcome with no outcome in mind?

Drawing in mixed media expressing a cosmic explosion.
"Cosmic Explosion". Drawing in mixed media on paper by Bianca Vinther.

In this blog post, I’ll explain the art-making process as a unique and nonlinear experience, its subtle, unpredictable nature, and its complexities and intricacies. In addition, I'll introduce you to my current creative process, and I’ll reveal to you my proven strategies for being more creative in drawing and producing mind-blowing art (check the 3 tips below).

To help you better understand your own process of creating art, I’m gonna be talking first about the art-making process as a continuum of momentums, occurences, thoughts, deep reflections, actions, and as a multiplicity of relationships between thoughts and actions that eventually lead to ... tadaa, the artworks!

Second, I'll discuss the initial stage of my art-making process when I found fresh inspiration and a new idea.

Third, I’ll move into the first phase of my actual creation stage when I developed my initial idea and I sketched frantically.

Also included are an overview of my mediums and tools, and some helpful advice on how to be more creative in drawing and how to select the right pencils and paper structures for you.

In the next blog post, I’ll explain the transition from sketches to actual artworks – oil colours and acrylics on canvas. I'll also discuss the challenging endeavour of experimenting, playing, and creating a number of large format paintings for an upcoming exhibition.

Discover below my first steps on the path to outcome and beyond with no concrete outcome in mind.

Drawing in mixed media depicting a spider-octopus-like shape.
"Wretched Eye". Drawing in mixed media on paper by Bianca Vinther.

The truth & the 3 main secrets about the art-making process

As the old saying goes, "all roads lead to Rome", there are many different ways to make art and get to that golden milestone, whether paintings on the wall, sculptures on a pedestal, installations in unconventional spaces, or anything else. Fact is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to art-making; in a never-ending loop, your creative path follows each time its own, unique and multidirectional course.

Taking a bird's eye view, the art-making process evolves over three main stages, which I wrote about in one of my most popular blog posts to date entitled "What are the stages of the art-making process?". Yet, when examined more closely, the creative process reveals itself as a complex network of actions, contemplations, and moments of deep thought that are per se not repeatable, i.e., unique to each individual in space and time. And that’s precisely the truth about it, its unmistakable essence!

The art-making process involves a constant, occasionally discontinuous flux of thoughts and actions (in no specific order). It is a series of visible results and an incredibly sophisticated web of invisible connections and movements, which eventually lead to concrete products and, further, to a relationship between artworks and their consumers.

Three secrets are hidden in this entirely unpredictable, wonderfully subtle, and most complex process of making art:

  1. The creative process is not linear, i.e., it doesn't involve a clearly defined timeline or a sequence of ideas and deeds from conception to completion of the artworks. Instead, it involves non-sequential streams of ideas, emotions, uncertainties, possibilities, failures, joyful inspiration-sparking moments, and so much more;

  2. It includes both intentional and unintentional occurences, choices, and actions;

  3. It is an experience with tangible, quantifiable outcomes as well as unaccounted-for periods of introspection, meditation, rest, and growth, which, in my opinion, are essential to any successful creative process, and culminate in the final artworks produced.

Do all roads really lead to Rome? Do all trials and errors, dead ends, and blind alleys guide us to that golden milestone? Yes, they actually do! Even if, at first glance, it may not seem so.

Experiments spark your creative madness, plentiful ideas and frantic actions expand your possibilities, while failed attempts and plain bad works narrow down your path to Rome. They paradoxically straighten the road, shorten the agony of choice, and lead you down the right way, whatever that may look like at the end.

To move forward with your art-making process, you must love your errors and your failed attempts, but that’s a subject for another blog post. Now let's have a look at my current creative process.

Drawing in mixed media of an intricated web of lines and abstract forms.
"Intricacies". Drawing in mixed media on paper by Bianca Vinther.

My current creative process: the first 2 stages in art making

Stage 1: How I found a sparkling idea and seized the creative impetus

Here's when my art-making process was reignited after a long break due to the family relocating north – Flensburg city, to be precise. It all started quite spontaneously with a children's book I read to my daughter a few weeks ago that told an abbreviated version of the old Japanese tale of "The Stones of Five Colours and the Empress Jokwa" under a completely different title.

This story gave me the first impulse; it awoke my curiosity and sparked my imagination. That was it and I immediately knew it! I therefore sought out stubbornly and eventually found the original title and story, which I read twice. The book inspired me to delve deeper into the plot and the richness of its symbols, which I tossed around in my mind for a while. I gave my idea time to grow, and it flourished bit by bit.

As I gradually became immersed in the tale’s atmosphere, I seized that creative impetus. How did I do it? I simply put myself to work in my studio. Day after day, using any second I could. No procrastination, no excuses, no other pressing obligations for a few hours spread throughout the day in between online German lessons, picking up my daughter from school and taking her to her music, choir, and painting classes.

Do you struggle to come up with the perfect concept for your upcoming artwork? Do you have difficulties picking the best idea from a plethora of competing ones? Do you struggle to just experience that initial impulse, the momentum, flash of inspiration, or urge to create? Or perhaps you succumb to the demands and pressure from your patrons and gallerists, and obsess about being more productive?

Then read The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker and give some serious thought to one of his marvelous pieces of advice: produce less and don't become fixated on increasing your output. Pace your productivity. Space it out. Contemplate, observe, and be more curious, instead. That will spark your creativity because being more curious and noticing more is being more creative. Productivity will naturally follow suit.

A hyper effective schedule designed to maximize productivity is in fact, more likely to distract you from what’s important than help you discover it.” (Rob Walker)

Scoop energy from a variety of sources, then take a break and wait. Because the true beginnings of any art-making process lay in the processes of seeing, wondering, pausing, and being patient.

What about your art-making process: does it start with an idea, an intention, an impulse, or rather with the conception of your artworks?

Stage 2: How I sketched and set my creativity free

My principle and habit of working on multiple papers at once are firmly ingrained in my years of drawing and painting in art school. I, therefore, began with a group of five or six papers all at once.

After covering the papers with a layer of charcoal, I used my fingers, a few brushes, a bit of water here and there, and a tiny intervention of my kneaded eraser to “animate” the surface of my papers. By the way, you can use this method to conquer your blank page anxiety (just in case you happen to be one of its victims).

I started applying the charcoal with no specific end in mind, and had no clue how it would turn out. Gradually, though, I saw shapes emerge from the paper's "enlivened" surface thanks to the hazardous intervention of the charcoal. In this process, this wonderful material provided input and plenty of ideas that I could use to construct meaning for my initial idea.

Here comes the wonder of process and intuitive art: the shapes that developed fit splendidly into the narrative of my old Japanese tale! See below.

Alternatively to coating the papers with fine art charcoal, I experimented with the decalcomania technique, which enabled me to transfer arbitrary forms and random patterns onto my papers, which I then modified or embellished upon.

Decalcomania allowed the shapes thus emerged to take whatever configurations were dictated by the interaction between a wet glass surface sprinkled with ink and paper, the innate properties of my paper, and my action in the end.

I worked frantically. I drew sketch after sketch anywhere I happened to be, whether it was in my studio during those exquisite moments of inner peace and quiet, at my daughter's music school, at the church where she attends her weekly choir workshop, or on the train every time I travelled to visit my in-laws.

My choice of drawing tools and materials

For practical reasons, I chose a set of pencils in grades ranging from hard (HB) to soft (6B). This allowed me to develop a full range of values, create strong contrasts, and, when necessary, make smooth transitions of tone. Since I tend to be quite disturbed by the shine of graphite pencils, I always go for my favourite matte drawing pencils: Mars Lumograph black by Staedtler (which I’ve been using for almost 30 years!).

If you like to use dramatic contrasts like a Pro, raise the contrast gradually. For improved dramatic effects, begin with an HB pencil and gradually transition to a softer one. By doing so, you'll be able to reduce the shine that some of the soft pencils produce (depending on the brand you use).

I went for a paper with heavier texture because it is undoubtedly more receptive to B pencils than a paper with lighter tooth and it shows more of the surface texture when soft pencils are applied, which is one of the properties of heavier papers that I really love.

Since I’m not a puritan when it comes to making art, I always like to mix the types of mediums I work with. I therefore added a fantastic fine art charcoal (sepia, XL size) to my drawing supplies, and a kneaded eraser that I use sparingly to “animate” the surface of the paper or enhance the grayscale and the contrast of forms.

3 Tips on how to be more creative in drawing

Tip #1 - Try the decalcomania technique