I: The Cycle
For me art is the physical manifestation of one's non-physical self and in the wider sense it is simply the unmanifest seeking expression and becoming manifest. The artistic process begins with the subjective conception and then enters the representational stage of manifestation where the artist uses their tools and body to create the art which can then be experienced by others and become subjective thoughts and emotions in them.
As an example to illustrate my point I'll use a painter creating a painting. Firstly I feel all potentials are held in a deeper level of reality to the everyday reality we perceive around us with our senses. This 'deeper' level contains everything that ever was and will be, but in unmanifest form. There have been numerous terms attached to this unmanifest reality throughout the ages - a few include: oneness, the absolute, spirit, the all, the collective unconscious (although unlike Jung's definition it encompasses more than humanity), chaos, transcendental reality and many other terms. I've created a term I like for this which is 'The Infinite Pool'.
From The Infinite Pool, the unmanifest seeks expression by becoming manifest reality and becomes part of an individual's personal unconsciousness. Once here it can potentially become part of the person's consciousness and this moment of 'inspiration' when the transfer happens can come about in many ways such as: a dream, overwhelming emotions, an idea and so on. (I think it's also important to note that some artists bypass the conscious and create straight from the unconscious in mediums like automatic writing and painting.) Now in the conscious the thought/idea/concept is 'born' and the painter will develop it subjectively and thus it will grow in them until inevitably a time comes when the idea must become a manifest reality.
The painter will now create their painting with the help of physical tools such as: eyes, hands, paintbrush, canvas, paints and so on. Eventually the painting will be completed but this is only half of the cycle. The reverse now happens as people view the painting with their own tools (eyes) and experience the painting in a consciously subjective way, they will develop thoughts and emotions in regards to the painting and each person's will be relative but no more right or wrong than anybody else's, including the painter. I like to think we simply act as mediums for creative expression - who's to say what an absolute meaning is? It will also become part of the personal unconscious of people and if they are intrinsically linked then the collective unconscious (infinite pool) as well.
This cycle can be seen in all mediums if you change the name of the tools used. For example a guitarist uses eyes, hands, guitar and perhaps amplifiers and effects which result in sound waves, which may or may not be recorded using more tools. Outside of 'The Arts' the cycle can also be seen. With our planet perhaps no personal unconscious or consciousness were needed (not in the human sense anyway) but tools certainly were needed such as a nebula, gravity, meteors.
II: The Baby Analogy
An analogy I find quite useful for the creative process in art is that of birth. Like the miracle of conception a creative idea or spark is planted or fertilized within the self. The next stage is growth within the self as it becomes ever more complex and feeds more and more from the persons psyche as it drains intellect, emotion and energy. Once the person cannot hold this idea any longer it is 'born' into the physical world and develops even more.
Listening to: Tangerine Dream