I understand why some people don't "get" abstract expressionism. I think it's a manifestation of imagination in its most pure, basic form. As the artist mines his/her artistic brain, paintings emerge as the visual result of pure thought. It's no wonder that it can be daunting to try to understand abstract art. Even the title may not give a clue to what the artist intended. It's the genre that is most frequently criticized, largely because it can be interpreted more subjectively than all others.
For me creativity is a wave of energy, driving me to generate something from within. It's my own thought - it is essentially me. I own every bit of it. Every piece of art is like hanging a page of my diary in public, inviting everyone to read my once concealed secrets. I can express any and all emotions within the canvas, although many people may not be able to read into those thoughts.
Creativity comes to me from different paths. One path is a desire to change something I think should be corrected. When I look at nature, architecture, the art of others as well my own, I sometimes feel a need to complement an imbalance, reconstruct the composition, enhance the colors or tweak the lines to make things more interesting. My mind's eye focuses on what's in front of me and I look for ways to transform the composition.
I can look at the side of a well used paint bucket. I see the different colors, smears, and runs as they overlap each other, exposing yet another color. I could take that bucket and add a line or two to define areas of balance and play with what could be an intriguing composition. The result is a new, completed piece of art, albeit small and from unassuming beginnings. All this will most likely, trigger a new composition or a whole new visual direction.
A movie director may hold up both hands to frame the perfect shot and look for that perfect composition. Then each scene becomes a part of a whole movie. Similarly, I determine the involvement of each element of my compositions. Each plays a small but integral part of the whole.
Each small piece of the composition, such as sparkle, is just as important as dull; brightness to darkness; soft as to bold. Candy for the eye is just as important as a place to rest your eyes. The perfect composition requires all of these qualities in balance.
Another path is like seeing a specific form/design viewed from all angles, all at once, dissecting, then superimposing images or sections of images upon images. In my mind, I see each element as a translucent layer, obscuring other layers and forms.
Sometimes my creativity comes from the blank, canvas. The thoughts appear, sometimes easier than other times. From here, starts the ethereal, the nothing becomes something from nowhere.
But does creativity really come from nowhere, assuming that nowhere is some group of crevasse within a mass of gray matter? Every day we are showered with visuals created within nature or by others. So did bird sounds stimulate our early ancestors to compose song or was song generated from the mind? What prompted that first artist to draw animals on the cave walls in Lascaux?
It is said we all have some degree of creativity - some more than others. Varying degrees of creativity could start with simple likes or dislikes. Creativity is very difficult to teach and the process of teaching creativity is most likely more like harvesting what may already be there. You can teach technique, but I believe you really can't teach true creativity.
But above all ~ creativity in any form is as subjective as preferring pepperoni or sausage on your pizza - it's just a matter of taste.