How do you prepare to create? Is art more spontaneous, or is it planned?

Perhaps it’s spontaneous because the artist never knows exactly how it’s going to turn out. After all, it’s Art, not Science.

But maybe art is planned. An artist needs tools, media and a surface on which to work, and it takes some effort to prepare those tools, media and surfaces. Without them, her creativity is just imagination, not art.

Today, I prepared a new piece of wood for drawing and painting. First sanding, then a light coat of gesso. Typically I don’t like preparing the surface, because it’s easy to get distracted or to think that my work is complete when the prep is finished.

But some of my most interesting photographs are of the prep work, before the piece is even close to being finished. So maybe, the best way to describe art is not as spontaneous or planned, but as a process. Art is starting with an idea, picking a medium, preparing the surface, then working — stepping back, taking a look — then working some more. The art process is my therapy, with a “free prize inside” when the work is complete.

Prep work for a few of my projects:

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