Deng Mng-Dao, The living

The Force of Creativity

Creativity is my most natural way of living. It is the way I interact with this world.

I can still remember the moment—I must have been nine years old—when I realized that drawing was a state of mind that involved me completely. It was a clear, calm, and welcome source of knowing. The experience was the feeling of a mystery understood. Creativity was a force that was immediately present and lasted as long as I wanted.

Drawing blends concentrated seeing, intense mental involvement, and action through hand, arm, and my entire body. I have to first observe fully to draw well. Then I have to commit completely to line, shading, and color. After that, there is the question of composition, because it isn’t enough simply to render something: there also has to be a meaningful arrangement of elements within the edges of the page. Composition takes observed details and assembles them into a larger whole. As the drawing takes shape, there is a further process of discovery

and a series of adjustments. There is the seizing of serendipitous moments and improvisation to compensate for accidents. Balance becomes just as important as depiction.

There are no mistakes in art. The artist’s task is to uncover the full nature of art, identifying the essence of what he or she wishes to make a life’s work. One can’t get to the next piece of art without full involvement in and completion of the current one. An artist may finish a piece, be dissatisfied, and vow to make the next one better, but acceptance and analysis must come before moving on. The piece we are working on is the piece we must make at that time.

There are many things that have changed as I’ve aged. I can’t draw the same way I did when I was younger. My sensibilities have changed too. I’m not interested in the same things—having exhausted explorations of those topics—and my hand probably moves differently. What doesn’t change, though, is feeling the creative force. No matter what happens in my life, it is always there. Read more