How to Begin – Day 41

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 41 of the 365 Days Project is by Nicholas Bellamy.]

Ceramic sculpture by Nicholas Bellamy.
“Touching the Energy” by Nicholas Bellamy. Photo courtesy ©Nicholas Bellamy.

How do artists begin (or begin again) from “nothing?”

#41 – Nothing is created from “nothing.” The secret to beginning is to start with Something.

Every day, artists throughout the world face the blank page, the empty canvas, the mound of clay as they ponder where to begin. Particularly after finishing a series or following a major exhibition, there is sometimes a wide, empty space between intense creativity and “What’s next?”

The “blank canvas” can be daunting, but trying to “think up something” results in more inaction. Artists know that by doing something small – a quick series of short sketches, exploring different forms in clay, throwing paint on a canvas, gathering a collection of natural materials – often leads to the next step. The goal is not to create a masterpiece, but to get moving again. As Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Even when I’m writing these essays, I start by typing a phrase onto the blank page. It doesn’t matter what I write and it doesn’t have to be perfect because it will change as the work progresses. The point is to do something, anything, and to trust that the next step will present itself.

As long as I have faith in the process, how I begin a new piece is not nearly as important as what I do in order to achieve the finished result. The secret is: stop thinking and keep moving.

“It is so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”
Paul Cezanne

“An empty canvas is a living wonder – far lovelier than certain pictures.”
Wassily Kandinsky

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
Ray Bradbury

“An empty canvas is full.”
Robert Rauschenberg

Ceramic sculpture by Nicholas Bellamy
“Those Voices Inside Us” by Nicholas Bellamy. Photo courtesy ©Nicholas Bellamy.

Nicholas Bellamy’s artwork can be viewed at: Nicholas Bellamy

Description of the images included in this post:
Those Voices Inside Us
Nicholas Bellamy, England
Stoneware clay

Touching the Energy
Nicholas Bellamy, England
Stoneware clay

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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2 thoughts on “How to Begin – Day 41

Add yours

  1. Serena
    just a quick note to tell you i am enjoying your daily writings. some how lost track of them the first time around;. This time will keep better track.

    1. Hi Mary! Glad you are enjoying them! It’s been great going through all the writings, and seeing they are still relevant, ten years later!
      – SerenaK

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