The Creative Process: An Example with Watercolor

Continuing the exploration of creativity that has been the focus of these posts since January 2017, today I describe how I applied the creative process while painting a recently completed landscape of a friend’s front yard and entryway (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
Welcoming, Watercolor by Catherine Grytting

When I design and produce a work of art, I focus on elements such as composition, value, color, focal point, flow, etc.  At the same time, I am aware of the discreet aspects of the creative process.  As a reminder, the factors that have been examined in previous blog posts include:

Setting an intention

Focusing your attention on your intention

Letting go of control and allowing the process to unfold

Receiving what the Universe brings you and

Giving thanks

I started this watercolor project when a friend gave me a photograph of her home and asked me to replicate the image.  I SET AN INTENTION to demonstrate my love for my friend through the act of painting a picture of her home.  Love is one of the most powerful energies in the Universe.  Our creations always benefit from an infusion of love.  To further support my intention, I chose a triangle of words that summarized the states of being I wanted to experience throughout this project: masterful, joyful and beauty.

I FOCUSED MY ATTENTION ON THE INTENTION throughout the entire process.  Many times, as I sat down to paint, I remembered my intention to demonstrate my love.  This frequent revisiting of my desire kept my attention on the intention.

LETTING GO OF CONTROL AND ALLOWING THE PROCESS TO UNFOLD began as soon as I started applying the first wash which lays the foundation for the painting (see Figure 2).  For me, watercolor is a capricious medium.  The water causes colors to bleed into each other.  Salt sprinkled into the mix creates blossoms of light.  Splattering paint generates a mottled texture.  These and additional techniques cause the image to take on a life of its own.

Figure 2
Welcoming, Watercolor by Catherine Grytting, Stage 1

RECEIVING WHAT THE UNIVERSE BRINGS began as I made artistic decisions based on the emerging composition.  For example, I noticed the subtle shapes of the background trees and intensified and nuanced them so that they resembled the photograph.  I also observed the configurations of light and dark that formed the house.  I strengthened and refined these patterns to bring the structure into clearer focus.  I repeatedly made changes, observed how my handiwork affected the painting and then made further enhancements that built on the shapes that had appeared in the first wash (see Figure 3).

Figure 3
Welcoming, Watercolor by Catherine Grytting, Stage 2

GIVING THANKS/Celebration: Although earlier posts emphasize the importance of gratitude, in this case, the final step was celebration.  I gave the picture to my friend for her birthday.  As we honored her special day, I celebrated the conclusion of this project.  I demonstrated my love for my friend, masterfully produced a beautiful work of art and felt joy during the process as well as when I presented her with this gift.  In addition, I continue to feel joy every time I see the painting hanging in her home.  Here, celebration, rather than giving thanks, signaled to my soul the end of this venture, thereby making creative energy available for a new project.

The steps of the creative process map a precise path to successful outcomes.  Whether you are crafting home-improvement projects, tasks for your employer, works of art, friendships, life experiences or anything else that captures your imagination, “[i]f you can imagine it, you can achieve it.”[i]  How will you direct your creative energy?

Special thanks to my art teacher, Joan Archer, who provided feedback on and assistance with this painting.  To learn more about Joan, visit her website at



About catherine grytting

healer, teacher, spiritual counselor, artist, writer, musician
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1 Response to The Creative Process: An Example with Watercolor

  1. What a great reminder about how the creative process works. I love the steps you articulate. Each is so important. I must remember them more often.

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