Before the Idea is about the split second before a creative breakthrough. The textures and colors embody the magical moment right before a new idea comes into being.
The painting is textured to look like the neurons in the human brain as they create new synapses.
In Jungian dream analysis, the ocean often represents the subconscious mind. Here, the dark, oceanic blue evokes the subconscious, while the white depicts rational and conscious thought (think "ivory tower"). The gold plumes of new ideas emerge as the conscious and subconscious swirl into each other..
The golden "new ideas" come into being between the dark blue "subconscious" and the white "conscious". But notice that they actually emerge primarily from the subconscious, as if the conscious mind witnesses the new idea coming into being instead of creating it. Most artists would verify that is how new ideas emerge!
The texture of the painting evokes human neurons and synapses. A synapse is a connection point between two neurons in the brain. Formation of new ideas both leads to and comes from the creation of new synapses. You can see the synaptic texture more easily by downloading the free high resolution file above.
The painting is about how ideas emerge. But the painting itself seemed to emerge in the same way! Unlike Gavo's The Elephant and the Mouse, which took several weeks and reattempts, the visual elements of Before the Idea seemed to emerge organically from Gavo's own subconscious.