From Idea to Real Thing

art "The Idea Materializes" by Mark Turner, from the book Your Table of Creation, 2016

This is the fifth in a series which you can start HERE, or review the previous post HERE.

The first aspect of creation we have considered is “inspiration” which we described as a contemplative, prayerful time sparking our belief that inspired creation will come forth. That intangible time meditating on idea begins to move me to physical things. I begin to feel it is not enough to wonder about an idea, but that I want to investigate the reality of it. This will be the execution stage.

The Paths from the Threshold

In discussing inspiration I mentioned that we sometimes balk at the threshold of commitment to the execution stage. This is a normal acknowledgment of the step you are choosing. Will you try something new and proceed into some amount of mystery? Will you repeat a previous success and put off significant growth? Choosing the safe way is valid at times. Doing the safe thing might be a step toward the later innovation. But, remember, growth must happen in order to stay alive, and growth includes unknown territory, some mistakes, extra labor, risk.

It is fair to say that all endeavors include risk and some amount of the unknown. Let’s just say that creators who avoid risk, mistakes, failures, the unknown, tend to project less promise of greater life. This is the choice of movie producers and “remakes,” or series episodes which have lost the original spark because the creators are trying to perpetuate the commercial value. It happens in every field of creation. Ask yourself if you are avoiding the prospect of new potentials and just camping out on formulas which have brought you this far. Is there any more growth you could realize? Does the world need anything more than what it has gotten so far?

Let’s Say We Choose the Path Less Traveled

Sometimes I do not realize I am entering the execution phase of creation. The prayerful impulse of the first phase has not ceased, but now my prayer proceeds through my actions and materials, seeking the best manifestation of the inspiration. The cook wonders what it would taste like to mix this and that. So, he mixes this and that and tastes it. As I work the clay, or push the paint, I am discovering what the idea is growing into. The materials are teaching me what the idea is able to do and the limits to the form it can take. I find the boundaries which will define the creation I am forming. Revelations surprise me, reviving my excitement with the idea. Blocks sometimes anger me, challenging me to push through to new territory.

This seeking time can be long if the idea is complex, such as a stage play, or if I do not yet know the extent of the idea, such as an abstract painting. I must get to know my materials, practice my technique, experiment with unknown processes. I both cherish the original impulse and allow it to evolve.

Like Jazz

This is a personal discipline I re-learn in a different way each time I work on a project. To some extent it is an improvisation, a combination of the spontaneous and the structured. Jazz musicians practice this dance improvising through their growing knowledge of pitch, rhythm, chords, limits of their instrument; dancing out a search for that ideal expression. When you experience a rich work in any art form you feel the spontaneous and the control collaborating.

The Focused Search and the Surprise

I know what I want to find yet I tell myself it may be different than I expected. I hold my expectations in suspense and let them learn as they find. I search my soul and examine what I am actually trying to write, searching for the words and combinations of sentences. I seek the sound of the characters in the world of the play. I seek the souls of actors and dancers through auditions and conversations, hoping to find the material for the beings in my theatrical creations. I seek the tools, the colors, the fabrics, the textures, the voices to get the pitches, harmonies, accents and backgrounds. I call upon craftspersons and designers to collaborate in the search.

The Community of Creators

The inspiration stage was a time of soul searching and vision clarifying in the heart of the creator. It might have been a time when an inner production team retreated together, but the leader and each team member should have spent time in solitude discerning their part in the creating to come. In the execution stage we choose to step into the open, to make the idea available to those who will collaborate in materializing the idea. An individual writer, or painter, will continue in solitude as they work out their physical manifestation, but with each word, or brush stroke, they step closer and closer to the collaborators needed in bringing their work to the world.

Before continuing discussion of the Execution Stage, here are two questions from the Table of Creation:

Am I exploring new territory, or re-working known territory? Am I playing it safe?
Am I sharing my ideas with a trustworthy community of possible collaborators? How might I find that?

Be one of the community building around this series. I invite you to get your copy of the art journal/adult coloring book version which I have created for this series. To get your copy click on the “Buy Now” button at right. Then go to our Facebook group page HERE, ask to join and share your experience of the book.