Author Archives: Emily McLoughlin


My original idea for this creative project was to learn to paint with a medium I am not confident using and complete a small series of self-portraits. The biggest issue I had with this, was the amount of time there was to complete the project. One semester seems like sufficient time, but for me, learning to paint with watercolours would probably take a lot longer and I wanted the end result of the project to be semi decent. Although I deviated from the original idea, I feel that I have created something to be proud of. I will also continue to practice painting with watercolours.

I chose to paint a self portrait because I wanted the project to express how I feel at this present time in regards to studying an arts degree. I drew inspiration from other artists such as Kathleen Lolley and Mark Demsteader. Lolley, with her painting of a girl with an owl mask and Demsteader and his style of painting portraits. Although obviously my painting was going to be in my own style of painting, I find that by gathering images of other artists work as inspiration at the starting point of my creative process gets my creativity going.

As I mentioned before, the painting was a way to express my feelings about studying and choosing art as a career path. I thought that having a symbolic element would be the best way to achieve this. I chose an owl as it is seen as a symbol of wisdom among other things, “The owl, represents wisdom, change and detachment. Always aware of its surroundings, the owl uses intuition courageously, with insight into hidden truth…” (“Owl Symbolism,” n.d.) I feel that where I am at now, I possess none of these characteristics but will hopefully one day, which is why I left most of my face blank in the painting. This represents my incompleteness as a creative individual. I am still growing.

I chose to switch to acrylic paints as I was finding watercolours hard to paint with, although I started of practicing with the paints I only came up with one decent painting, although having said that I wasn’t very impressed with the painting overall and felt that I could come up with something more interesting, I would just have to change my original idea.

In regards to the weekly readings I found that Csikszentmihalyi’s 9 aspects of flow was the theory of creativity I can relate this project to.

1. There are clear goals every step of the way
2. There is immediate feedback to one’s actions
3. There is a balance between challenges and skills
4. Action and awareness are merged
5. Distractions are excluded
6. There is no worry of failure
7. Self-consciousness disappears
8. Sense of time becomes distorted
9. The activity becomes autotelic

I found I had reached my creative flow once I had decided to have just one painting and to use acrylic paints instead of watercolour. What is now the final product had been swimming around in my thoughts for a while, but I kind of disregarded it as it wasn’t achievable if I had stuck with my original idea. I found that the thought of having to use watercolours made me put of starting the project and once I made the decision to swap everything fell into place and I eager to start and I knew all the steps to take to reach the final piece of work.

The third aspect, a balance between challenges and skills, was something that had me thinking about my creative process. When painting the final piece, you will see in the video, that I start painting the owl and then I wipe it off and start it again at another point. When I am working on a creative piece I will use reference photos to paint from, but before actually starting the painting I will usually draw or paint the subject quickly over and over again until I get it right. With this painting, as I left it for so long I had to wing it as it was the first time painting the owl. I think this perfectly relates to the third aspect as when I was in my creative flow I knew exactly what had to be done to complete the project, but this shows that there was a balance between my skills and challenges.

When I am painting, time seems to fly when I am finding the painting to be enjoyable and distractions usually are excluded. For the project I decided to record the process as a video to show the entire process not just snippets from pictures at different stages of the painting. This was the only distraction I had when I was painting, as the camera would turn off at 15 minute intervals and I would have to briefly stop to turn around and turn the camera back on and continue recording as to not miss any of the process. I didn’t find it to be an annoying distraction, but at times it would break my concentration. Although having said that I don’t find that it was enough of a distraction that I couldn’t get the work completed it just meant at the end I had to put all the together. (Sorry, I don’t know film terminology)

In conclusion, I am happy with the end result even though it was not my original intention or aim. I think that the deviation and deciding to change things as I went was an integral part of my creative process. Although I would like to one day follow through with the original project idea, this current project shows that I have a style and a creative process that I was not really aware of until now.


Owl Symbolism. [n.d.]. Retrieved from the Macrameowl website:

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Flow of Creativity. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (pp. 107-126). New York: HarperCollins.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Mini-Exegesis


Creative Project – Final

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Creative Project


Creative Project

For my creative project I decided to film the painting process instead of taking photos of it at different stages.

A bit like this:

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Creative Project


Tutorial 11

Question 2.

c. Throsby argues that an artist’s career can be divided into stages. The first stage, or the beginning is when the first steps are taking in the direction of a creative career. This might be enrolling in a course and studying their chosen domain. The next stage is what Throsby describes as the period when the artist is the most hard working as they want to become professionally accepted, or established. She also argues that once the artist is established they are not as hard working, but still remain committed to their profession. These stages raise the question, how do you know when you are an established artist? The majority of artists in the survey of the reading said that they considered themselves ‘established’ once that had had their own solo show, or first professional engagement.

d. What factors hold back an artist’s professional development?

I wanted to focus on this question as I find it will become relevant once we have completed our degrees and go off to try establish ourselves in our chosen domain. In the reading Throsby argues that there are two major contributing factors which inhibit the development of an artist professionally, they are financial problems and time constraints. Financial problems include a lack of work opportunities, financial return from creative practice and access to funding/support. Time constraints arise from external pressures and responsibilities, this problem also ties in with the financial problem as a lot of artists find it necessary to have a “day job” in order to live comfortably (pay bills etc) thus there is no time to do creative work.

As a personal experience I find that when telling someone that I study a bachelor of contemporary arts the question that usually follows is “What do you plan on doing after?” I think people don’t really consider art to be a “proper career path” and that there is a stigma associated with it, and especially in Perth, where the arts and culture is not so significant. Even now, I know that choosing this career path is not going to be easy and it will definitely not be financially stable for myself. This raises some kind of fear in me, especially as I know that what lays ahead in terms of a career is unpredictable and it can go either way, successful or unsuccessful. In a way, I guess the fear of not knowing is a factor which could hold you back from developing or even starting, “Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all.” (Bayles & Orland, 1993, p.13)


Throsby, D. Hollister, V. (2003). Dont give up your day job : an economic study of professional artists in Australia (pp. 33-36). Sydney: Australia Council.

Bayles, D. Orland, T. (1993). Art and Fear. Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. Image Continuum.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Tutorial


Work Examples

These images were for my photowork assignment in semester 1, the assignment was to capture images in the dark using only ambient lighting and no flash. The negatives were then push processed so there was more contrast between the light and the dark. Working with film for the first time was stressful and a lot of chance is involved with the process. You have to make sure you get the settings right or the negatives will turn out either under or over exposed, sometimes making the photos useless and having to start again. Despite the stress this unit was an endeavor that I am proud of achieving and I think it converted me into a lover of analogue photography rather than digital.

This was a painting I did in year 12, we had to paint ourselves in our favourite spot so I painted myself at the beach, it is also the first painting I did with oil paint… Although I believe that my painting skills and style has developed and changed over the past 3 years I still actually like this piece as I really pushed myself to try something different. This was probably the painting that made me realised my work didn’t have to be so clean and neat.

I did this drawing for my Introduction to Drawing unit this semester, my lecturer said that I favour line over tonal shading, although that is not a bad thing I really had to try when doing this drawing as we were not allowed to use line. Having done this unit I have actually realised my strengths and weaknesses in regards to drawing and that I have a particular style which I can use to my advantage in projects to come. I have also learnt a lot about measurement and proportion and to actually look at and study the subject when I am drawing.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Work Examples


Week 3 Tutorial

I decided I wanted to go back to week three’s reading on the theories of creativity, Roger’s self-actualisation theory is what I find the most plausible out of all the theories mentioned. From my understanding of this theory, it is about using your creative talent to grow and to become the person you are capable of being, although in terms of a career. I find it to be the most plausible as that is exactly what we are trying to achieve by studying an arts degree, we are surrounded by like-minded individuals which establishes a creative environment, we are responsible for our own success or failure in regards to course work and we all have the opportunity to experience new things. For me that would be different areas of visual arts, such as printmaking, textiles and sculpture, to develop my skills and grow as an artist, which is what I mention in my mission statement.

Having said this though, I kind of disregarded this reading as I didn’t believe more than half of the theories were true or plausible, such as Freud and Skinner. To be honest I believe that everyone is creative on some level, it is just our mind set, whether we want to create just for the sake of creating or want to make a career out of it. I don’t believe that any one creative individual is more creative than the next, which is what, as an example, Mednick argues with his theory of mental associations.

Question 1.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Account: Freud believed that the motivation to create was from our “unconscious conflict between the primitive sexual urges… and the repressive influences of our learned social conscience.” His theory was that a creative person accepts their “libido-stimulated fantasies” and channels that through their work, while an un creative person represses their urges.

Skinner’s Behaviourist Account: Skinner argued that there is no such thing as creativity, or freedom as behaviour is controlled by our superiors, such as parents, teachers, police etc. He believed that any product of creativity was that of genetics and the environment or surroundings.

Mednick’s Mental Association Theory: Mednick’s theory of creativity was based upon mental associations. A person that can associate a word with many other words is considered to be highly creative, where as a less creative person would have only a few dominate or basic mental associations.

Roger’s Self-Actualisation Theory: Self-Actualisation is the theory that the creative person is using their talent to grow or become the person they are capable of being. There are 4 important conditions of self-actualisation:

1. Psychological safety: A flexible and receptive creative environment.
2. Internal locus of evaluation: Making one’s own judgments, being responsible for your successes and failures. This means to be confident and independent.
3. Willingness to play with ideas and possibilities.
4. Openness to experience:
Generally being interested in experiences and ideas. Acknowledging your wants, needs and habits.

Sternberg’s Three-Facet Model: Focuses on the characteristics of a creative person.

1. Intelligence: Emphasis on verbal ability, fluent though, knowledge, planning, problem defining etc. Having a general intellectual balance.
2. Cognitive Style: Having a preference for creative occupations, creating their own rules and doing things their own way.
3. Personality and Motivation: Drive for accomplishment, perseverance, willingness to grow creatively and risk taking.

Amabile’s Three-Part Model: The first part is that a creative person has the relevant skills so they are competent in their performance within their domain, so they must know the technical skills of their talent. The second part is that one must have relevant skills of creativity. And the third part is motivation, having the right attitude for the task.

Csikszentmihaly’s and Gardner’s Three-Part Models: To produce “true creativity” all three models must work together.

1. The Creative Person: Provides the necessary ability or talent.
2. The Domain: Receives formal training in their chosen domain.
3. The Field: Society judges the creative output.

Simonton’s Chance-Configuration Theory: Simonton’s theory is that chance plays a large role in creativity. He believes that “individuals become “creative” only insofar as they impress others with their creativity.” (Simonton, 1988)

Question 2.

When I engage in my creative practice, whether it is visual arts or photography, I like to write my ideas down in a visual diary, collect pictures and take photos as research. In relation to the reading I don’t find that I have to force myself into some kind of day dream between my unconscious/conscious mind to draw my ideas from, generally my ideas will come from experiences or things that I see or hear. So I guess my own theory is that I create from inspiration.


Davis, G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendell/Hunt.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Tutorial


Creative Project

So basically for this creative project I wanted to paint a self portrait, although with a medium I don’t usually work with, so I tried watercolours. I practiced painting with them for a bit, but I couldn’t really get it right. There are some embarrassing attempts which I didn’t keep, although one attempt worked okay, I just find the painting boring overall.

And I know, I haven’t shown how I got to that final painting, which is why I want to try something new. So I took a bunch of photos and edited them to how I wanted them to look in the painting. Also in my previous posts I referenced a few artists who’s work have given me ideas. Mark Demsteader’s work and Kathleen Lolley’s work has inspired me the most.



Don’t mind my photoshop skills..

Barn Owl

Barn Owl 2

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Creative Project