Lynda Lehmann Painting
Lynda Lehmann : In Praise of Creative Process

In Praise of Creative Process

“The feel and character of paint is bliss.”

By Lynda Lehmann | Updated 9/6/15

Back in the 60s, I read the humanist psychologists. Seems they all talked about one kind of process or another. The process of learning, the process of rebelling, the process of creating, the process of loving. I read Abraham Maslow, Karl Rogers, Alan Watts, Rollo May, to name a few. There were so many, I can't remember them all. No matter what their particular slant, the emphasis in those years seemed to be on either "being" or "becoming." At the tender age of 19 or 20, I knew I was nowhere near the mark. All the concepts made sense, but it was intellectual sense, not the kind that resonates deep inside.

Now, many decades later, I look back in awe at how much "becoming" I missed. Living in the suburbs, raising a child and participating in all the cooperative functions that mostly mothers ran, even while they juggled jobs, homemaking and child-rearing, had many satisfactions. But my creativity was relegated to the sidelines of my experience.

I often wrote fiction during the toddler nap years, and through nursery school as well. During the elementary and later years of our daughter's schooling I penned four novels and a bunch of stories: mostly soft, sociological science fiction for young adults, with feminist and environmental themes. So I always played around with ideas, and have two of four novels that I hold dear because they embrace my deepest values. (The other two novels were fun but were more "entertainment" than value-driven.)

I finally gave up the writing to pursue my art, which had for years been on the back burner even though I took an occasional painting class at the local art league, to keep my hand in it. One day I may pick up those manuscripts and send them out again. But right now I'll stay with the art. Both painting and writing are consuming processes that require total commitment, and I'm not one of those people who can do everything. I'm not willing to sacrifice quality (or what I perceive as quality) for quantity.

Now, at my "seasoned" age, I have both the time and space to devote myself to creative process. Finally, it IS a process, and I'm grasping the "Being-ness" that everyone was talking about in the 60s. In the past year, I have fallen in love with painting. I could eat and sleep, walk and talk, painting. I awaken with ideas and images floating precariously on the surface of my consciousness, like glowing beacons on a turbulent stream. I avoid getting up to make notes on them, because my excitement will most likely keep me up all night!

The process has taken over and finally, it's not being truncated by other concerns. I'm still delinquent on gardening and as domestically challenged as ever, but I don't mind defaulting on some of those obligations. And if dinner is a little late, well, no one is going to starve.

It's not as if I don't have any problems or concerns for the world. I do, like every other human being. But the overriding feeling, as I delve more and more into the feel and character of the paint, is bliss. I am fortunate to be experiencing this joy. One thing leads to another — each image calls for a dozen or a thousand variations. The bounty is overwhelming; the color and rhythm and flow of it, the most satisfying experience I have had in this life. I thank the powers that be for this creative impulse that is at once a joy and a burden. But if I have to have a burden, creativity is the burden I want.

The only real difference between then and now, is that I finally have continuity, the time to BE in the experience. I have process. Thank goodness for process. •

© 2007 Lynda Lehmann. All rights reserved.

Painting by Lynda LehmannAbstract Expressionist painter Lynda Lehmann studied Art Education at Penn State University and earned her BFA from Hofstra. More »
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