Sculpture by Dan Murphy

Way More Than Infatuation

Way More Than Infatuation

People have always been curious to learn about the creative process. “Where do you get your ideas?… How long does it take?… Do you draw it first?”… etc.

When I am asked these questions, here is what I have to say about my process:

In the past, I have occasionally had a complete and preconceived idea, gone to my studio, detailed drawings in hand, and executed that idea. But that is rare these days. It was more likely to happen in the 1970’s when I was starting my career. It made sense then. My ideas and sculptures were more simple then. Now, instead of pre-planning, I am more likely to work with my materials in an intuitive way, and see what happens. There is a constant dialog between me, the material, and the shape I am creating. I am relying on instincts, but I also have to be able to censor them. Many instinctual visions that pop into my head are technically impossible. Some might be wonderful, but would result in a shape that is simply too big or impractical. Crossroad decisions like this can happen ten to twenty times during the creation of one sculpture. Frequently, I labor over each piece for long periods of time, weighing options.

Eli's Coming by Dan Murphy

Eli’s Coming by Dan Murphy

This interplay of initial vision, instinctual changing visions, calculated analysis, and practical limits all go in to the final shape of the sculpture. I often have roughly fourty partially completed sculptures at any time. Once in a while, sometimes years later, I will open a box of incomplete pieces and see what is in there. It may be a form that suddenly energizes me and turns out, after some work, to be an exciting piece. Ten years later, the same thing can happen between me and a new piece. Some of my best sculptures have resulted from such multi-year re-workings. For example, one of the sculptures I just finished formed over three distinct phases: 1978, the original Orbits; 2010, Orbits V; and 2015, Orbits 5.5. That’s a 37 year evolution! I like all three stages in different ways, but the 2015 version is clearly the strongest.

The creative process for artists is rarely quick and clean. Usually, its long and difficult… but ultimately, exhilarating!

Posted by: Trudy Thomson at 4:20 pm 1 Comment

A Journal Sketchbook by Linda Passman

This summer, I returned to the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts to hear live music at Tanglewood and attend dance programs at Jacobs Pillow. As usual, I brought my journal-sketchbook with me like I do whenever I go on a trip or attend a concert, theatre or dance program. The drawings you see in this article are just […]

Posted by: Trudy Thomson at 12:45 pm 3 Comments

Clay, Glazes, and Heat by Judith Ernst

Have I learned yet to love uncertainty? Creating work in ceramic is not like painting. When you put a combination of glaze chemicals on clay and subject them to high heat, what you get is almost always surprising, even though you may have run many glaze tests and fired pieces under identical conditions. You do your […]

Posted by: Trudy Thomson at 5:15 pm 0 Comments

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Posted in: ClayProcessSculpture