Having recently discovered lovely Margie {with a hard ‘g’} from Language of the Soul Studio when she nominated me to take part in a blog hop alongside her, today’s post answers four questions about my creative process. Although I don’t always say yes to blog hops, this one feels relevant – and I hope will be interesting in a kind of behind-the-scenes way. And you know how sometimes you feel an instant connection with another artist and their work – well that happened with Margie.

So, if you’re curious about what’s behind what you see on this website and my various other internet homes, the following gives some insight into how I roll creatively speaking. My hope is that it will also give you permission – if that’s what you need – to honour your own creativity and how it naturally manifests for you, even if it doesn’t look like you think it ‘should’.

How does your creative process work?

The main thing I’ve learned at this point about my creative process is that the overarching theme is EBB AND FLOW. I used to think I could only call myself an artist if I made art every day, or near enough. But I don’t, and guess what, I reckon I’m still an artist. ;) Sometimes many weeks can go by with no contact between brush and canvas, and while I like to keep a skeleton practice going in my sketchbook during those times, even that doesn’t always happen.

So when the inspiration is there, I will make art with an intensity that by its nature cannot last. During that time ideas breed ideas, the inspiration is constant, and it’s tiring in the best possible way – the way that leaves you feeling full after, rather than drained. And then the cycle will turn and there will be a pause. I don’t fight the pause, although I will poke at it from time to time to see if it’s over yet, like when you test a bruise to see if it still hurts. {Everyone does that, right?}

During the pause I don’t stop being creative, I just stop making art. I’ll read a lot, bake a lot, write, work on other creative projects like creating courses or taking classes, I’ll spend more time outdoors, and more time contemplating. In a way it seems like an imbalance, this on/off/on/off passionate romance with paint, but I don’t see it that way. I am not only an artist, or perhaps more accurately I don’t confine that word to making marks with paint or other media.

I’m going to say it, even though it sounds cheesy. Life is an art. We are all artists. Everything we do is part of the creative process.

River // Tara Leaver

River

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t really know what genre my work fits into, partly because it changes a lot, and maybe partly because I don’t really care where or whether it fits in or stands out. To borrow a very over used phrase, it is what it is. It will come out regardless.

When I started making art again after a long hiatus, I used to do a lot of mixed media work. Now I’m mostly about colour and energy through abstract landscape and figurative painting, so perhaps I lean more towards fine art, but I don’t have a degree and I don’t pay much attention to the rules. I think a lot of the reason some of my paintings turn out well {by my own standards} is because I feel them; I know the basics about composition and tonal range etc, and the rest of it is intuitive.

Sands // Tara Leaver

Sands

What am I working on now?

Currently I’m thinking a lot about two things.

One is drawing, as I am doing this 31 Days of Playful Drawing project I decided to set up on a whim for October. So my mind is full of drawing ideas, quotes about drawing, things to watch or read about drawing, how I can make drawing an easier, more accessible and fun experience for people, that kind of thing.

The other is much more personal, and is to do with my sense of myself. It’s so newborn I don’t have a language for it yet, at least not in words. So I am thinking about how I might express it in art. Whether that actually happens is not important; it’s the process of exploring that matters. I recently finished a painting on canvas that was pretty intense and that usually signifies a pause, so there is an element of pause-ness going on around painting right now.

Blue Mountains // Tara Leaver

Blue Mountains

Why do you do what you do?

Because I can’t not! For all my pauses, I always return to art. It’s never lost. It’s part of who I am, how I recognise and express myself. My best paintings feed me long after I’ve finished painting them. So I do it for fulfilment, to feed myself, to live more deeply and fully.

And then that spreads outwards, to those I can help, encourage or inspire with my courses, or my book, or articles, or in any way that happens to be encouraging and supportive of other human beings wanting to be creative and needing someone to light the way for them for a while. Maybe that all sounds very worthy, but it’s the truth. The cycle of painting and not painting is echoed in the cycle of feeding myself and helping others feed themselves in this way. That’s what’s most important to me, and because it’s always a process, there’s always more to discover.

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As part of this hop is to nominate three other artists to play along, I asked three art friends Malini Parker, Robin Kalinich and Stephanie Medford, and they all said yes! Yay! I highly recommend visiting each of their websites, talented and inspiring as they all are in their own unique ways.

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