Overview: In this solo episode (ep 153), Adam Williams talks about the building blocks of the creative process, using the intuitive flow of his “scrawl abstracts” artwork, like his digital painting “Don’t be fucking ridiculous … I just wear stars! (General Baron Jacques),” as an example. (Released on podcast on August 1, 2023)

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Reverence & UnReverence photographic art series

Podcast cover art and “(General Baron Jacques)” below: Adam Williams


“Old Rope” by Joe Johnson | joejohnsonsings.com

Original Written Version

A new work.

“Don’t be fucking ridiculous … I just wear stars! (General Baron Jacques)”

I love how making art is an ever-evolving process. If you look back at the earlier works in this series, which I loosely refer to as “abstract scrawls” and have made 75 to 80 so far, and view them chronologically, there is a clear evolution of technique and style. 

Something else I love about art making is how those little steps in the process emerge. They can pop to mind from seemingly nowhere, as it happened with General Baron Jacques here. 

I saw something in the world when scrolling on my phone. A lightning bolt: An image came to mind of something a little different I could do with my abstract scrawl work. I rushed to grab my iPad to try out the idea, knowing that if I didn’t, I’d lose the vision in my mind and lose the idea. 

One more thing about the creative process is that the initial vision that I hold often is not what results. Rarely does it come out the way I first envisioned. But that first thought serves as a crucial stepping stone. 

Making art is intuitive. The practice hinges on one’s awareness of those intuitive moments, and one’s willingness to listen and take action. I listened to the inner voice, took action, and here we have not only General Baron Jacques to show for it, but a pivot point that is guiding me down the next branch in the path for my abstract scrawl work. 

Such epiphanous moments in a project’s creative evolution are not a culmination point, an ending of an idea. Rather, they are a fresh something, a new look that shines as the next beginning.

“(General Baron Jacques)” by Adam Williams

Recognizing that aspect of the process is critical to understanding that all 75+ of these works in the series are necessary building blocks, and each piece also is worthy in itself. 

It can be tempting with each shift in course, each new rise in the evolution, to jettison all that came before as insufficient. But if that were the way, then we’d never accept where we are or any of the work that arises. The evolution is potentially infinite.

And to be honest, were I to edit the series for, say, a gallery showing, I might not include many of the earliest works. But I respect their role in the process. Without them, I wouldn’t have ended up with so many of the pieces that I have come to make and love.

And more honesty, I wasn’t always at ease with this perspective. It’s taken me a lot of years of creating to be in this mental and emotional space with the process, to accept and value my early-stage works, rather than feel ashamed of them as failures. Actually, it’s probably still a new-ish thing for me.

In part, that ease is thanks to talking with and learning from fellow artists, like those I’ve shared in conversations with as Humanitou Q&As and on the Humanitou podcast. Floyd Tunson, Inaiah Lujan, Peggy Dlugos and Rukmini Poddar come to mind. But there are many you can read or listen to on the podcast.