How the process works at least sometimes

Dancing food collage #1

Dancing food collage #2

Dancing food collage #3

“How do you come up with some of this stuff?” While my work is probably more consistent than I realize, people often say that they are surprised at the different stuff that I do. That does not necessarily mean that it is necessarily any good; that’s a matter of taste. Nor does it mean commercial appeal; some galleries and illustration clients value predictability, not variety. But the real issue is how does this variety happen? It is a creative process and accordingly there is a bit of craziness and magic that goes into it. The little cartoons above are an example of what I mean. They are all digital drawings done with a Wacom drawing pad and stylus and Corel’s Painter 12 program. It all started with a construction project where I work. It was a major renovation and there was so much noise for a couple of weeks that I wasn’t producing anything much. I never expected that so much noise and activity would disturb my work but it surely did. I would like to say that the pounding, drilling and sawing made it impossible for me to think straight but making pictures is not exactly an analytic process. It requires some thinking but also demands a very special state of mind – an amalgam of visual playfulness, nonlinear daydreaming or confabulation and suspension of critical thinking. Most important of all, it requires “getting started.” Anyway, in desperation I took to sketching some very loose, rather abstract, one-line figure drawing on my computer. I saved them in a folder that I meant to call “dancing fool.” But I inadvertently typed “dancing food” instead. And that led me to drawing cartoons of the imaginary staff and customers of a restaurant that I called “Café Danse Alimentaire.” They are all are caricatures of people who I’ve seen in restaurants. It spiraled from there and I am not done yet. I am now thinking about writing a little story about each of the characters portrayed and seeing where that goes. What’s the moral of this rather shaggy dog story? For better or worse, creativity happens when you get to work and – most important of all – you let the work happen. There isn’t some fancy system to it and certainly no waiting for inspiration.

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About mmgilbert

I have been drawing and painting all my life. Now part of the “New Symbolist” movement which encompasses both Goth, fantasy and tattoo art as well as the century-old work of Odilon Redon, I focus on archetypal and mythic imagery to evoke emotional themes and to reference darker fantasies. I have an abiding interest in figurative drawing, working on paper and exploring new ways to handle traditional materials. I studied with Edward Millman, a WPA muralist; at Purchase College; and at the Art Students League in New York.
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