A creative process choice: quality or quantity

In terms of creativity and artistic importance, the renowned architect I. M. Pei said in an interview:  “[Creating] three or four masterpieces is more important than [creating] 50 or 60 buildings. Quality, not quantity.”

In the world of the creative process, it is generally accepted that not every every work we produce is likely to be top quality work, let alone a masterpiece, but only a small portion of our total output

In his book Creative Authenticity, Ian Roberts commented: “The art historian Kenneth Clark, who made the Civilization series for the BBC, suggested that you could destroy all the works of any artist except his or her four most important works and the artist’s entire reputation would continue to stand on the strength of those four.”

Roberts, a painter himself with more than 40 years’ experience, adds, “He [Clark] is saying that in any career there are a few moments  of creative insight that give full expression to an artist’s vision. The rest are at a lower level of inspiration and do not grip us in the same way.”

Roberts then raises the question of “…how many paintings we can produce annually that contain a density of vision that will be worthy of us.” (1)

Roberts  infers that if artists (perhaps through a need to make a certain amount of money) set their sights on producing a large volume of work every year, then their work might weaken in impact as time goes on.

Robert’s book is full of insightful observations and advice in how to tap, develop, and refine our own authentic voice within our individual creative process.

His work can be seen online at ianroberts.com

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision, Atelier Saint-Luc Press, Fairfield, IA, USA, 2004

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