Everyone’s creative process is unique as we are all on individualized journeys. Whether your creative outlet is painting like mine or something else such as knitting, cooking, or composing music, we all have a creative process that is unique to us.
It used to be that I’d have 5+ in-progress paintings and I’d bounce back and forth between them. What I found to be true, for me anyway, is that I wasn’t finishing many pieces of art. This was also a time when I didn’t have enough experience to know that abstract paintings can go through many ugly stages before they become an artwork you are pleased with. So I would have tons of paintings in progress that honestly, were all in ugly stages. I would abandon each piece and move on to the next during an ugly stage, only to never even return to some of them.
About a couple years ago, I had an intentional plan to not start any new pieces until I finished the one I was currently working on. Surprisingly, I found this approach to painting more fitting for me, even though it was not easy to change my creative routine. Not only was I able to finish paintings, but my painting itself seemed to improve. While the journey I go through in painting a piece is important, I’ve found that the dopamine-producing event of finishing a piece is equally important. And the way I used to work was not producing many pieces.
There is a huge sense of accomplishment with each finished piece that brings me much joy. I find that starting and finishing one piece at a time (knowing I can’t start a new one until I finish my current one) provides the motivation needed to finish the piece. This motivation also forces me to work through the ugly stages instead of putting the piece aside when the going gets tough.
So how about you? Do you bounce around between many creative projects or do you start and finish one before moving to the next? Whatever your method, keep doing whatever works for you.