Hello and a warm welcome to TOUCHING THE CREATIVE FIRE…the space where I explore what is commonly know as the Creative Process.

If you are new to this post, let me introduce myself.

My name is Marie Laywine.  I am a Canadian artist living and painting in South-west Dorset for almost 30 years.  In my studio in Abbotsbury I explore the mechanics of the Creative Process using the information, ideas and images from my dreams.

In my second post of TOUCHING THE CREATIVE FIRE…, I wish to introduce you to the painting, THE FIRE EATER: the Creative Fire in the visual form I have given it from my experiences with it.

The Fire Eater

The Fire Eater

Dimensions: 147.5cms (H) x 95.5cms (W) x 3cms(D)

Media:  acrylic on paper

When I began painting THE FIRE EATER I had nothing in mind other than the action words of inhale, ingest, exhale.  These three action words came from the day’s dream and became the impetus for the starting point of this painting.  A central figure was quickly sketched in black acrylic paint.  From the figure’s mouth emerged a plume of something depicted by four black lines to give the idea the figure is either inhaling or exhaling. What is running through my head as I am sketching is the ‘taking in’ on the in-breath and a ‘spitting out on the out-breath.  I remember practicing the actions of ‘taking in’ and ‘spitting out’ to see where the action would take me.  As I repeated the actions I came to the sudden realization that this is the action of fire.  With the inhalation I take in the fire.  The next action is to swallow it.  This means I have ingested the fire.  It is inside me.  And suddenly, within, I am on fire and then I become the fire.

Suddenly I hear a sound that reminds me of the timing of a metronome.  I follow the sound.  I make the sound.  I feel it is demanding my attention.  As I give the sound my attention I repeat the sound of a metronome out loud; tick, tock, tick, tock…  As I repeat this sound over and over, the words, ‘constant’, ‘pace’, ‘back and forth’, ‘pay attention’  come to mind.  What is this all about?  There is an urgent need ‘to know’: to know what?  The need to know has a pulsating urgency about it.  I begin to sketch in black paint on the tope of the forehead of the central figure.  This sketch is of a small creature and it is crawling to the top of the figure’s head.  The small creature has a tail.  The tail is swishing back and forth creating a similar pattern and rhythm as the sound of a metronome.  I get the feeling creature is agitated and verging on becoming anxious.  I then experience the same agitation and anxiety within me.  I begin to practice the sound of ‘back and forth’ and keep the same constant and monotonous pace of a metronome and the rhythm of the creature’s swishing tail.  The agitation and anxiety within the small creature and myself is becoming unbearable.  The anxiety is high.  The tension is high.  The sound is becoming louder like a pulse beating in my head.  The pacing has increased.  I am almost ‘beside myself’.  This is fear; terrifying fear.  The urge is to run away, to seek a distraction, anything to make it easy for myself to step out of these strong feelings.

Suddenly words come into my head: ‘pace’ and ‘consistency’.  I stop.  I listen.  The next words to pop into my head are ‘horse’ followed by ‘riding’.  As I begin to ‘ride the horse’, the ‘horse’ becomes the ‘flames’.  And then I connect in a big way: the message is: RIDE THE FIRE!  RIDE THE FIRE!


As I ride the fire, tension and anxiety eases and changes from fear to excitement.  Intense colours begin to emerge; reds, yellows, some white.  The colours intermingle.  The ‘flaming fire’ intermingles with the colours and covers the whole painting surface.  Everything is ‘fired-up.  Once again, on the out-breath I exhale the title:  THE FIRE EATER: the visual form describing the four phases of the Creative Fire.  The experience of painting this painting has taken me through the experiences of its four phases.

  1. I can be the fire; the words initiating the original impetus.
  2. I can eat the fire; inhaling the fire on the in-breath followed by ingesting it.
  3. I can be the fire; by riding the Creative Process.
  4. I can be eaten by the fire; intense fear can take over at this point.  This is a real fear and it is terrifying.

There is a belief held by many people that the fear of being eaten is a primitive one we hold in our cellular system.

It’s been my experience that this fear holds the critical moment when everything verges on a fine line between succeeding/not succeeding; placing on HOLD my process in painting and in life resulting in a blockage.

In the process of painting THE FIRE EATER I was able to push through that fear.  Prior to this experience, the fear stopped me at that moment when I was on the verge of creating something beautiful and expressive where I am able to speak about something I cannot describe in words.

The one aspect of this painting I didn’t cover is where the Creative Process lives.  It lives in the imagination.  How did I represent this aspect visually?  Look at the upper corner of the right hand side of the painting.  There is an object that resembles the top half of a skull with two blanked out black orbits.  The ‘skull-like object is the container of the Creative Fire.  The creative Fire is ever ready to be touched, ready to be generated, ready and waiting for the stimulus that will ‘fire it up’.  The painting indicated the ‘firing up’ by the yellow colour seeping out from its blanked our right orbit.  The ‘seeping yellow’ colour is then inhaled by the central figure who can also exhale it thereby creating the continuum of an on-going process.

As I review what I have written about my experience while painting THE FIRE EATER I feel the need to correct any illusion I may have created that the painting happened spontaneously and on the spot.  IT DID NOT.  The reality is that with the initial impetus, the painting surface is quickly mapped out with the idea.  Over the next few days, months or years plus new information, plus new stimuli, the image and the concept is slowly honed until both the artist and the painting have reached its objective:  COMMUNICATION.

  1. THE FIRE EATER spoke to me about the fear of being taken over by the Creative Fire is a fear I hold within myself.
  2. THE FIRE EATER spoke to me that by pushing through the fear I make room for an enriched dialogue to take place between me and the work in progress.
  3. THE FIRE EATER spoke to me about pushing through the fear allows the possibility of forming a relationship between me and the painting.
  4. THE FIRE EATER spoke to me about pushing through the fear allow me to successfully realize and idea that once lived only in my imagination and now has a visual form.

A deep part of me understands and recognizes that in the process of painting THE FIRE EATER, a transformation has taken place within me as an artist and as a person.

THE FIRE EATER is an image that describes the four phases of the Creative Fire with its possible outcomes when it is ‘fired up’ and ‘touched’.

The Creative Fire is a potential within everyone.  My own fear of being taken over by the Creative Fire held me back from ‘touching’ it for a very long time.

Viewing a painting is an act of endeavour rather than a passive process.

THE FIRE EATER is available for purchase at: