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Exploring the Creative Process in Visual Art

Have you ever wondered how visual artists convey their ideas, transforming them into media such as painting, sculpture, or video performance? Do artists begin their work with a clear vision of the outcome, or is the process more fluid and unpredictable? As an artist, I have experienced a variety of creative journeys, each unique in its approach and outcome.

The Artistic Journey

Artists have diverse methods of creation. Sometimes, I feel an overwhelming urge to create, prompting me to gather my art supplies and begin working. These spontaneous pieces often lean towards abstraction, emphasising the process rather than the result. Typically, I find about fifty percent of these works satisfactory, while the remainder appear underdeveloped and messy.

Another approach involves sketching initial designs and forms, which I then refine into smaller, detailed drawings before translating them into paintings. My most common technique, however, is to "walk and think". During these walks, I visualise the artwork in my mind, manipulating shapes, compositions, and colours. Once the mental image feels complete, I recreate it in my chosen medium. Each artist's process is different, with countless variations in their creative approaches.

The Origin of Ideas

But how does the "first" image occur? Human cognition often operates more visually than linguistically. I recall a pencil drawing by my niece when she was about two years old. The drawing featured a cat and a mouse, with lines connecting the two animals. When I asked her about it, she explained that the cat was chasing the mouse. This simple yet profound drawing demonstrated her ability to recreate a lived experience through art. Once she finished the drawing, she felt no need to revisit it, as the story had concluded in her mind.

Art in Developmental Psychology

I kept and cherished this drawing for years, not only out of love for my niece but also as an example for my art students. As future preschool teachers and caregivers, they learned about using art to measure child development. Tests such as Florence Goodenough's "Draw-A-Person" (1926) are widely used to assess children's cognitive and developmental stages. Art has been a valuable tool for observing and evaluating human perception and mental health, with extensive research supporting its validity.

Art and Spirituality

Currently, I am exploring whether art can be used to observe spiritual life and health. My research project, "Material Rendering of 'Divine' and 'Faith' of Practicing Christian Adults with Artistic Skills," examines how creative thinking relates to spiritual life within Christianity. This project aims to understand the intersection of art and spirituality, revealing new insights into the creative process.


The journey of creation is deeply personal and varies significantly among artists. Through my experiences and research, I aim to shed light on these diverse methods and their broader implications. Whether for developmental assessment or spiritual exploration, art remains a powerful medium for understanding human experience.


Goodenough, F. L. (1926). Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings. World Book Company.

Featured journal pages and work of Fr Matthew Askey.

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