A blank page can be scary. Sometimes when I start a project, I feel anxious. When I am creating I feel a range of emotions, such as joy, fear, and surprise. Creating is like taking a long walk with many twists and turns and returning safely home with a prize.
Creating something can be as delicious as eating pumpkin pie or as difficult as having a test on Monday morning. Even though sometimes the journey is difficult and full of questions, when I create I have a feeling of freedom because I can express myself any way I want to. When I make something new I learn something about myself. Creating is like taking a net and capturing my thoughts and bringing something new that has never been seen into the world.
To bring about a new, fresh piece of artwork, I find something that inspires me. To hatch my idea, I find inspiration from anything: people, places, images, books, artwork, or a doodle. The world is like a star nursery of ideas waiting for gravity, me, to pull the particles or ideas together to complete a picture.
Other times, I don’t set out to make a piece of artwork but see something that sparks my interest during my day and I cannot wait to sit down and create around that intriguing idea. This is the best moment in the world to me because this is the beginning of the journey that starts an explosion of thinking and making that leads to something new.
This “spark an idea” process can be different if I have an assignment at school. Creating something from a teacher’s creative journey is like being on an unfamiliar path or placing a lens over my vision. This process can be difficult because I have to search for my spark. Instead of gathering ideas to form something I am given the form to fill like a cupcake wrapper waiting for the batter. I initially treat school art assignments like any other academic assignment where I have to interpret the teacher’s words and research what I am going to do.
A good way to find inspiration is through brainstorming. I experience brainstorming as many short splashes of thoughts, images or words entering my mind. When I am brainstorming, I do not judge any ideas that come to my head; I just let this waterfall flow and make decisions later. As I think about and anticipate my creation or assignment, I quickly sketch or write these ideas as they are flooding my head. Sometimes I research images on the internet to find more ideas. Doodling is also a way for me to capture my ideas to make them tangible.
Phigerfly is an imaginary animal that is part elephant, butterfly, and tiger. I doodled many animals to find the one I wanted to make.
When I discover what I want to create, I make a sketch. A sketch is a scaffold to hang my ideas and creation on. While sketching, the challenge is to keep the drawing working toward my concept. I ask myself many questions while I work to flesh out the details and keep my drawing on track. What parts do I use from each animal? What colors should I use? Do I make the animals three-dimensional looking or representational, flat or designed? How can I make this creature read as one imaginary animal?
On a sketch, I test colors to see if they work together. I test to see if they too dark or light or the right amount of contrast.
With my experimental sketches finished, I finally start to work on my creation. I feel excited but nervous because I don’t want to mess up this technical part of my invention. Art work does not always turn out the way I want it to even with all the planning and sketching. Many things can go wrong. The paint might run together, the ink may smudge, a line can get too thick or the color may accidently get too dark. This means starting this technical phase over. This can feel frustrating especially if the work is almost finished, like getting a present and having it taken away.
When I have almost finished bringing my creation into the world, I evaluate my art by asking questions. Are all the parts of my painting working together? Is my idea portrayed here? Does my artwork look different than what I had planned so far? Does it matter? At this stage, despite having to evaluate my work, it feels so wonderful to be able to actually see my conception like seeing my baby brother for the first time. Then, I work on the parts that need to be completed and I am finished!
A blank page can be scary but it can turn into something more than a piece of paper. It is a process with twists and turns, obstacles, and wonderful self-discoveries. With imagination, a blank piece of paper can become a new kind of animal that the world has never seen before. Making something new connects me to the universe because a spark of imagination can grow into a creation just as dust can turn into a star.
Elly Goetz is fourteen years old and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She attends LaGuardia Arts high school and likes to garden, swim, play the viola, and create art.
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