Nov 27, 2021
The Creative Process Behind Our New Book, PAINT.
BY ERIN CORSTIAANS
The creative process is exactly that: a process. It’s the journey you undertake to turn an idea into reality; a series of tiny learnings and choices that determine the end result. Sometimes the end result looks just like we anticipated, but more often it takes on a different shape. That’s the funny thing about the creative process—it’s full of surprises, twists and turns. You might start walking confidently in one direction, then wander off course to pick wildflowers. You get lost for a while, climb a tree, scratch your knee. The creative process can be childlike and exploratory. Almost always, we learn something along the way.
You know that expression, ‘a learning curve’? And how we get thrown ‘curveballs’? Learning is rarely linear—we need those twists and turns and bumps and curves to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Let’s consider the creative process as a maze. The objective is clear: get to the treasure in the middle. What’s not clear is the best way or quickest way to get there. You’ve got to figure that part out as you go. It’s likely you’ll hit a few creative roadblocks along the way, and it’s how you handle these roadblocks that count. You can allow them to frustrate and overwhelm you, and give up on the treasure. Or you can mentally note them, and calmly seek a new route that takes you one step closer to the treasure you seek.
Two years ago, Hillary and I set our sights on some serious treasure: we wanted to write a book. The vision was that it would be a take-home paint and sip experience: essentially, Cork & Chroma in a book. At first, we called it a cookbook, which is kind of funny in hindsight, since it was never going to be a book about cooking. Yet the parallels between painting and cooking were uncanny: we likened the painting guides to recipes, the painting equipment to pantry staples, and setting the scene became setting the table. Words like ‘blending’ and ‘mixing’ belonged equally in the worlds of painting and cooking. The concept fit so well!
It did for a while, anyway. Until we remembered that when guests paint with us in our Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne studios, they’re coming to paint, not to eat. They’re using brushes and palettes, not knives and forks. So if our book was an embodiment of a classic Cork & Chroma experience, why would we layer cooking jargon on top? We realised that we were overcomplicating things; we had wandered too far off track, and found ourselves lost in someone’s kitchen.
If people wanted to cook, they’d buy a cookbook. But our guests wanted to paint. So we let our book be what it was, a painting book, and gave it its own seat at the table (ha). We called it PAINT, all in caps, for good measure.
As well as different concepts, we tried out different styles of painting. There was a real moment where we started painting unsuspecting everyday items, like teabags, matches, and washing lines. It was quirky, but it wasn’t our classic Cork & Chroma style. We were trying a little too hard to be modern and edgy, and straying too far from the heart of what we do. So we kept coming back to that place, where there was heart. Because where there’s heart, there’s flow. And flow is where the creative magic happens.
When you get to a sticky spot in a project, or come up against resistance, it’s important to consider why. Sometimes it’s worth pushing through that resistance in order to make a creative breakthrough. But other times its best to acknowledge that we’ve simply left the flow zone and entered a no-go zone, where we’re trying a little too hard to be something we’re not.
And that’s the whole idea. The creative process is one of trial and error, of going a little too far this or that way, and then finding your way back. Sometimes it’s all flow and forward progress, sometimes it feels like you’re going in circles, and sometimes it feels like you’ve turned around and gone backwards. But, like we say in the book, no matter what your creative process looks like, you can count it all as progress. And when you do find your creative treasure, the journey will be so worth it. At the very least, you’ll have a good story to tell.
You can flip through or pick up a copy of PAINT in our Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne studios, or purchase it through our website. This book explores paint in all realms: as a medium, as a practice, and what it means to become a painter. In these pages you’ll find twenty Cork & Chroma paintings that you can paint along to, in your own signature style. It’s your take-home Cork & Chroma experience, and so much more!