Creative Process Demonstration: The Sun Wins Through

This video demonstrates three of the key principles in creative work: constant metamorphosis, the hunt and the form emerges at the end. The video begins with a pencil sketch and a small oil sketch, then shows the progressive stages on one large canvas. This canvas went through continuous metamorphosis between 2010 and 2018. The pictures seem finished, but in reality, they are stages in the hunt — the search for the final form. When we make art, we seek a specific condition or expression — specific, but unpredictable. There is a paradox here: how can it be specific when it is unspecified? Creativity is a hunt for something that is not yet revealed but, once found, satisfies a set of conditions such as desired impact, mood, or expression.

Another way to think about creative work is as speech. We generally don’t notice how we speak; we just do it. But if we slow it down, we can see that an intuitive, unformed, unexpressed, unarticulated idea exists in potential, then takes shape as we speak. We shape the air in our lungs, so to speak; we sculpt the words into existence. To enter into this activity consciously is quite miraculous, because while we are doing it, we are also unconscious of doing it. An artist has to become conscious of speaking — and this is why, I believe, it is a hunt. It is not straightforward; we have to “find the words” — in this case, in paint.

This painting is about the sun as both a source of physical life and a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Just as the physical sun brings life to the earth each spring, the “spiritual sun” penetrates every darkness — in time. It may seem an age, but eventually, “the sun wins through.”

At one point (about 42 seconds into this video but, in reality, in the last stage of the work), about half of the paint peeled away from the canvas, at which point we decided to sand the canvas to remove all loose paint. After that, we redrew the main theme and started again with the fragments that survived. It is often the case that such seemingly brutal and harsh processes yield the breakthroughs needed to realize the intuition in material (“spoken”) form.


  1. Sue Barnum on April 4, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Amazing…such patience is required for your process, a lesson for me about my writing (and painting)!

  2. Jeff on April 8, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Yes, this painting required many years of incubation!

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