As I painted I thought about how similar the onset of this project is to when I get an idea for a novel. Usually a novel starts with a specific character trait or a unique idea. Then, as I plot out the concept, I watch as the book gradually comes to life.
I encountered surprising details and twists as I brushed the seahorse to life on the wood. I didn’t know she’d end up with swoopy tendrils on her head. As I thought about what to paint next, I took hints from the knots and whorls in the wood. I find this happens a lot while working on a novel. I’ll wake in the middle of the night struck by a fresh idea. I’ll hear a conversation or conjure a memory and the pieces come together. I follow the creativity to see where it’ll lead.
I took breaks from painting to google what actual seahorses look like. Of course I veered from the actual depiction of a seahorse, but that was part of the fun—knowing what I was veering from and having a solid visual to begin with. One of my favorite things about my vocation is that I consider reading novels a necessary part of my work. Research.
It’s pretty cool when you think about it. My creative process shows up in everything I do. It’s more than a formula or a systematic methodology. It’s a way of life. Painting a seahorse (this one in all her quirky glory) is a far cry from writing an entire full-length novel. Except my approach to both felt amusingly familiar.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake