Monday, November 28, 2011

Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process: Part 2

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Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process.
©2004-2011 Mary Rush Gravelle

Last week I introduced you to my Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process. This is a process that came to me in 2004. I called it a theory because it was something that I was thinking about as a possibility in outlining the creative process. Creativity is a rascal that does not want to be tied down. It is a free spirit. But, what if we can get a handle on the process of creativity? Wouldn’t that make life a little easier? Wouldn’t it help us create if we knew the process?

This theory was published in 2004 in the ARTistic FX magazine in Hartford, Connecticut. The magazine is no longer online, otherwise I would give you the link. I will reproduce it here on this blog for you over several weeks so you can take it in, or drink it in!

Beginning of article:
Published 2004 in the ARTistic FX magazine


We are the Coffee Generation, judging by the many different coffee establishments. Why do we love our coffee so much? Does the idea of drinking a cup of coffee conjure up the scene in your mind of being jolted from your sleepy-headed state and revving your feet into action? It certainly does for me.

Let’s think about the act of drinking that cup of coffee as metaphor for the creative process. Think of the head as the beginning of the process and the feet as a completion of our process. Coffee wakes our head so our feet can get moving.

Now, let’s compare Coffee with Ideas. Ideas come into our minds so our feet can bring them out into the world in some form. We begin with an idea and find ourselves immersed in a process of making it happen.” [This is much like placing the coffee grounds and water into the pot and then letting the process take over to make that cup of coffee].

“Let’s begin with the old-fashioned method: the percolator coffee pot. How does it make coffee? The percolator takes its time heating the water and then takes more time sending the water upward only to come back down over the coffee grounds. Then, the water seeps over the grounds, and the fresh aroma of coffee fills the kitchen as the coffee makes its way into the pot with a final brew. [Let’s compare this process with the creative process].

1st Stage: Yahoo!
This is the moment in time when an idea arrives in your wondering mind, ‘Hmm… I have an idea,' you might say to yourself. This is the very exciting stage when you salivate at the very prospect of pursuing this idea. It’s like the first kiss, so savory delicious you can hardly contain your jazzed-up emotion over it.

2nd Stage: Ouch!
Featured artwork: Landscape of the Mind
Abstract photograph. © Mary Rush Gravelle.
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Your idea takes a nosedive after running it through your Reality Checking System. ‘It’ll never work. What was I thinking anyway?” is what you might be saying at this stage. You ramble on, “There are no new ideas, anyway.” You doubt everything about yourself and this idea: its feasibility, your skill level, your thinking abilities, blah, blah, blah, etc. Your acrimonious remarks continue. Pragmatism rules. The Critic takes over.”

End of partial article

So, think about these two beginning stages of this theory. Run them through your own creative process and see if it fits. I’ll continue this next week unfolding the final stages to the creative process.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process

Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process.
©2004-2011 Mary Rush Gravelle
Part One: Introduction

Years ago I thought about the creative process quite a bit. As a result my intuition played along and gifted me with many ideas. The creative process was revealed to me in several ways.

One of these was a process that I developed (along with the Muse) which called itself “Coffee Pot Theory of the Creative Process”. After I wrote it up and talked about it in one of my creativity workshops I realized that the idea of the coffee pot was a dated one. Some of the younger people in the audience did not know what a percolator-type coffee pot was. Ouch. Did I feel old at that point? Oh yeah!

But anyway, I think the idea is still relevant. So if you do not know what a percolator-type coffee pot is, look at my illustration. That’s what it looks like. Sometimes they are electric. The simplest ones are heated on the stove. The water comes up from the bottom through a tube and falls onto the coffee grounds. See the links at the bottom of this article for more information.

I’ll talk more about the process in subsequent blog entries. Let’s start a conversation. What do you think about the stages of the creative process that I have outlined here in theory?

About the Percolator Coffee Pot -- the parts and the process.

Reviews on the Percolator Coffee Pot -- they make excellent coffee!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning From Art History: Pop Art and Minimal Art

Basically the lesson from Art History of the Pop Artists and the Minimal Artists boils down to the fact that it is the artist’s intention that makes an object a work of art. The idea behind the intention is what matters. The object has no meaning in the art process, it is just a means to an end, and a statement that it is art because the artist says it is.

The context in which the object appears is also important. Is the object located in a place where objects are seen as art? Duchamp’s urinal and bottle rack are simply objects, ready-mades that he deemed as art objects. He placed them in the context of an art gallery, therefore, and voila, art object! With “Bottle Rack” he then took this idea full circle by taking the common object, bottle rack, back to its original location where it then ceased to be an art object. With Minimal artist, Dan Flavin, his fluorescent light pieces carry this idea out also. Once the lights are unplugged on his Light Art Objects, they cease to be art objects. The object can vacillate between being an art object and just the plain common object.

The other thing that the minimal artists were getting at was that the object was to be simply the object itself and not be an aesthetic or meaningful presentation. It was to give to the viewer an experience of simply being present with the object, much like meditation as Matthew, my art history professor, says. Musicians were in on this scene as well. I really like the pop music artist, John Cage’s piece “4:22”. I’m not sure how I would have reacted during the concert. But, the idea behind it was quite interesting, that the sound of the audience was the music. This is akin to the idea of the minimal artist who wants the viewer to be the experience with the object. It’s like the person witnessing the “thing” becomes part of the piece. This is pretty cool, really. It takes on the meaning of being interactive art.
My Cat, Sir Kitty, loves my Nature Art piece.

Andy Warhol was pop art personified. I have seen numerous documentaries on him. Every time I see him he plays the shallow role, like there is nothing, absolutely nothing behind those eyes and nothing in his brain, like a ghost. Chilling, actually, now that I think about it. But this is what his art was showing us, the shallowness of the time and that we too wrapped up in the wrappings like packaging and celebrity. So this makes perfect sense. He was his art. He was his message. And he played it to perfection.

I appreciate Carl Andre’s pieces. They remind me of a past experience when I went to a gallery in New York City, most likely the Whitney. One installation piece was just a room piled with dirt. At that time, I thought, “It is just a pile of dirt”. And it was! Now I know that was the point. I guess I got it back then when I didn’t think I did. Ha!

One of my favorite art and artist of this time period, late 1950s and early 1960s, is the Light Art of Dan Flavin. I know I am not supposed to have an aesthetic experience with his light fixtures, but I do. I think they are just the most elegant beautiful art objects. They glow with simplicity. One of his pieces especially gets my attention. It is the multicolored grid of lights. I also like the fact that this can be turned on and off as an art object which is the statement of the minimalists.

Do you like the art of this period? Does your art have any of these qualities? If you are an art collector, do you collect art of this period or contemporary art work that is influenced by this period?