4 Key Phases of The Creative Process

by | Aug 14, 2022

4 Key Phases of The Creative Process


Most cultures have a common understanding of creativity. If we did not have creativity, we wouldn’t have a society in the first place, because societies are also human innovations. It makes sense that creativity is directly associated to our sustainability as a species. So if creativity is necessary to our survival (and overall wellbeing), how can we understand how to access it and apply it in our everyday life?

Creativity comes from within, and our imagination has to be fed positivity to keep that creativity alive. Think of all the energy you put toward worrying about possible outcomes in life, and now, imagine all that time spent being redirected toward positive visualization instead. It is also considered a character strength that should be cultivated throughout the entire lifespan as it brings about positive change (i.e., associated with happiness) on an individual and collective level.

Creativity is intelligence having fun. (Einstein)

More on Creativity:

  1. Creativity is producing or discovering any new idea, solution, object or possibility that is original and is also useful or adaptive. 
  2. An idea or object that is considered useful or adaptive solves a problem or produces a new way of seeing something. 
  3. A creative act that is considered adaptive makes a positive impact on the creator’s life or the lives of others. It is able to be adapted from the original circumstance of creating into other areas. 
  4. Throughout history creators have happened upon similar ideas around the same time. These ideas are considered original because they were discovered independently through individual research. People high in creativity often have an intense knowledge in some area of work. 
  5. While creativity is frequently associated with the arts, it is actually a driving force of discovery in all disciplines. Early traditions and philosophies associated creativity with the divine. 
  6. Practicing creativity can take any form that promotes original thinking. To strengthen your creativity commit time to writing, sketching, mindmapping, fantasizing, vision-boarding, or engaging in any creative act that can spark new ideas.


The four-stage model of creativity from the 1920s outlines the 4 phases of the creative process:

Stage 1: Preparation

The creative process begins with preparation: gathering information and materials, identifying sources of inspiration, and acquiring knowledge about the project or problem at hand. This is often an internal process (thinking deeply to generate and engage with ideas) as well as an external one (going out into the world to gather the necessary data, resources, materials, and expertise).

Stage 2: Incubation

Next, the ideas and information gathered in stage 1 marinate in the mind. As ideas slowly simmer, the work deepens and new connections are formed. During this period of germination, the artist takes their focus off the problem and allows the mind to rest. While the conscious mind wanders, the unconscious engages in what Einstein called “combinatory play”: taking diverse ideas and influences and finding new ways to bring them together.

Stage 3: Illumination

Next comes the elusive aha moment. After a period of incubation, insights arise from the deeper layers of the mind and break through to conscious awareness, often in a dramatic way. It’s the sudden Eureka! that comes when you’re in the shower, taking a walk, or occupied with something completely unrelated. Seemingly out of nowhere, the solution presents itself.

Stage 4: Verification

Following the aha moment, the words get written down, the vision is committed to paint or clay, the business plan is developed. Whatever ideas and insights arose in stage 3 are fleshed out and developed. The artist uses critical thinking and aesthetic judgment skills to hone and refine the work and then communicate its value to others. (source: https://www.wework.com/ideas/professional-development/creativity-culture/understanding-the-four-stages-of-the-creative-process)

Connections Between Creativity and Yoga

Meditation and yoga practice grants us access to the deep place of our psyche where creativity is born. By exercising this part of our awareness innovative thinking starts to bubble up and naturally flows into our lives. Creativity can feel impossible to access when we are scattered and distracted. By finding stillness and presence through meditation, creativity appears, dullness melts away and we begin to feel more alive. When we are practicing creativity it is important to realize that just as we need to listen to the ideas and feelings that flow from us, we also need the ability to let them go with ease. This is the practice of aparigraha (meaning non-attachment), the last of the yamas in the eight limbs of yoga.

These 6 yoga postures can help us tap into a space of creativity:

Hovering Table Top Pose

  • Builds a strong connection to the abdominal wall and strength in the shoulders, hands and wrists
  • Stretches and serves as a warm-up for the feet
  • Encourages a long spine and is an opportunity to explore building strength and heat in the body

Humble Warrior Pose

  • Deep grounding through the soles of the feet, encouraging grounding in the present moment
  • A powerful offering of humility, bowing to something bigger than yourself, welcoming creativity
  • Strengthening for the lower body while challenging the balance in a gentle inversion


One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

  • Intense hip opener, offering opportunity to soften and surrender to gravity
  • Invites a deepened connection with the breath through time
  • Brings emotional release, as a precursor to creative impetus

Tree Pose

  • Brings a sense of calm grounding, and offers space to grow
  • Deeps awareness of our mid-line, bringing all seven chakras into alignment, encouraging proper energy flow
  • Strengthens the legs, core and connection with energetic movement from soles of the feet and crown

Eagle Pose

  • Increases ability to focus and balance for longer durations, which supports creative thought processes
  • Aids in respiratory function by opening space in the back side of the ribcage
  • Strengthens the ankles, calves and arms, encourages fresh blood flow

Cow Face Pose

  • Releases tension in the hips and glutes
  • Promotes healthy flow of energy and proper circulation
  • Crosses the mid-line of the body, encouraging creative thought

Connections Between Creativity and Art  

There is not one synonymous definition of art however there is plenty of research that suggests  engaging in artistic activity leads to higher levels of creativity. The process of art-making can be defined as “expressing themes and ideas in a variety of ways/mediums exploring traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques adopting ideas of others trialling new techniques to express ideas” (source: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.tasc.tas.gov.au/).

Foster Creativity Through Experimental Drawing

Experimental drawing “explores the boundaries of traditional approaches in drawing media. It is designed to ask questions about what a drawing is, explore the conventions of drawing, and experiment with unfamiliar/unexpected materials, methods, theories and presentations in the medium of drawing” (source: /https://arts.ufl.edu).

A Few Ways Experimental Drawing Supports Creativity 

  • Explores how various tools and materials influence your decisions
  • Leads to questions, new insights, and discoveries as a result of taking a semi-structured/fluid approach to creating images
  • Post art-making reflections lead to identifying additional messages, images that relate to current themes, and situations in your present life.

10 Experimental Drawing Methods 

  1. Paste areas of collage onto the surface before drawing.
  2. Place down select fragments of collage for what you are going to draw. This is different from above as the collage is more part of the drawing rather than a background. Paint loosely with coffee, draw with colored pencil.
  3. Stretch paper, glue on tissue paper with PVA, let it dry, peel off loose bits, sandpaper off rough bits with fine sandpaper, draw with a pen. [Stretch paper + Distressed tissue background + Draw with pen].
  4. Stick together two pieces of packaging. Use gumstrip and masking tape to attach on the front like collage and then draw.
  5. Ink splat or drip ink on paper, or work wet on wet with ink or watercolor, allow to dry, then draw.
  6. Wet watercolor paper or really thick cartridge paper, blot with tissue so damp, draw with Payne’s grey watercolor. The watercolor will bleed into the damp paper. If the paper is too wet the drawing becomes completely concealed. (source: https://theartyteacher.com/experimental-drawing-processes/)

Little Sage Workshops

In Little Sage workshops, students are invited to build strength, flexibility, and acquire artistic skills in tandem with cultivating character strengths and overall resilience. Every 90-minute workshop includes developmentally appropriate mindfulness methods (e.g., yoga, breath work, creative movement), art-making techniques, and supports social-emotional learning through solo and collaborative group work.

Check out our upcoming Creativity, Art + Yoga workshop and other workshops this Fall!




7 Benefits of Yoga for Young Kids


Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of positive psychology. Oxford university press.