In early January, I took a random road trip to the ocean. The beaches were delightfully desolate and frightfully cold. So cold that my iPhone shut itself off, repeatedly. I should have heeded that and headed in to warm up rather than staying out in the wild windy weather. But the temporary discomfort as my frostbitten fingers thawed out was well worth the experience! 

The empty, chilly beaches were a match for my quiet, lonely mood. Clearly a perfect opportunity to create my first seascape, Alone at the Sea, after Caspar David Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea.

In Friedrich’s version there’s literally a monk standing by the edge of the sea. As you can see here, in my version, there’s no person. Though I’d originally included a figure, it seemed much lonelier without one, so I painted it out.

As is the case with this piece, it seems that some of my best work is created when I’m not really thinking it through with my logical, left-brain. Rather it’s as though I’m feeling my way through an expression of my emotional state by following the inspiration of my creative, right-brain. At some point my thinking brain engages in order to appropriately depict a cloud or water or sand, but that’s after the fact, when most of the emotion is already out on the canvas.

This leads me to wonder about artist’s processes. Is it a matter of tapping into one’s creativity and allowing the work to come forth onto the canvas? Or is there an element of logic involved? 


What inspires artists to create their works in the first place? Does personal experience and emotion carry the day, or is there a technical imperative? 


Perhaps the answers to these questions are particular to each artist, or more generally to each genre – perhaps photorealistic paintings involve more of a technical approach compared with the impressionistic style. 


Interesting questions for further consideration if I’m to find easier and faster access to creating artworks that inspire and excite.


What is your creative experience? Do you rely on your technical left-brain or your creative right-brain for instruction? Share in a comment below!