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Revealing the elusive obvious: Making sense of creative practice through refl ection and writing out

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This article draws on the idea of the elusive obvious as a useful way of examining how creative arts practitioners can make sense of their practice through expressive writing. Defining the elusive obvious as that ethereal aspect of creative arts practice that is often palpable to the practitioner but equally hard to pin down within the creative process, the article argues that expressive writing enables the creative practitioner to engage with their practice in insightful ways that integrate theoretical insights and help to reveal the elusive obvious, which in turn gives life to what is being explored. It examines ways in which expressive writing could be used to facilitate practitioners' experience of their creative practice and facilitate a better appreciation of the interconnectedness of practice (doing) and theory (critical reflection and analysis) in the creative arts. The article draws on discussions on practice as research to highlight the distinction between 'writing out' and 'writing up'; where 'writing out' calls attention to the idea of 'searching' within the creative process, while 'writing up' is firmly located in the recording and documentation phase of that practice. It argues that it is within this process of 'writing out' - of searching - that the elusive obvious can be revealed. The article also illustrates how reflective practice/writing can be understood through drama. It examines how reflective practice/writing can often lead to 'eureka' moments when, by personalizing their practice within the creative working environment, practitioners suddenly discover the elusive obvious. Through the ideas explored in this article, we invite a consideration of how expressive writing can act as a vehicle through which meaning could be found. This article argues, therefore, that expressive writing is not an end in itself, but is exploratory and transient in nature, and a rich terrain for the elusive obvious to be revealed.

Keywords: continuum of knowledge; creative practice; elusive obvious; practice as research; unlocking meaning; writing; writing out; writing up

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Swansea Metropolitan University 2: University of Glamorgan 3: De Montfort University 4: Independent Scholar

Publication date: December 22, 2011

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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