Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walking through the Creative Process

For many years, I would hit the studio with the expectation that I would create a finished piece that was good...painting, art quilt, collage, whatever. 

As I had mentioned previously, this past year has not been a very fruitful year for me...too many things interrupting my life and not the willingness to let go of a lot of stuff.  Meaning...letting go of doing good, finished work.

So, I have been, for the first time, working on some processes described by a couple of other artists and actually working through their exercises.  This means no need to fear about completing good work.  Of course, this has lifted a big weight off my shoulders. How come it has taken me so long to reach this state of mind?  I will be submitting to shows and seeking places to exhibit but right now I am taking a well deserved break and getting back into my own creativity.  I have been driven before with the need to create new things with new ideas which has put the pressure on.  Now, I can work through a number of fun techniques that others use, try them out, play with them, and see what works for me.

I have been selling my art work since I was in college.  Unfortunately, I have the bad habit of listening to those pundits who tell us what we should be doing.  I have fallen into the trap of not believing that I can work in different styles.  I can work in my very organic manner and at the same time work in a very geometric, hard line manner.  These are two different parts of me and it is time to celebrate these different parts...instead of feeling like I have to chose between one or the other.

Collage, both fabric and paper, are both good ways for me to express myself in either manner.  I can cut the paper or I can tear the paper and achieve very different results.  I am still trying to figure out how to get that torn paper edge on fabric...I have an idea I will be playing with the transfer paints which I paint on to paper, and then iron onto polyester fabric...which can now look like silk or cotton. So, this is something to think about when I am ready to try it.

Meanwhile, I have been using three books to help me through all this process. 

Journal Fodder 365 is a great book about keeping journals.  I have done so for years and I think I must have just about all the books there are on keeping journals.  I have travel journals, I have sketch journals, I have scrapbookie like journals and everything in between.  The books I have tended to look through have either beautiful watercolor sketches or ink sketches in them, with nicely written notes.  I am fascinated by these and will spend hours looking through the work of the Urban Sketchers.  Or, else, I have books that show how to create journal papers but, even through I have tried the techniques suggested, they have never felt like me....they felt too organized, no content and an emphasis on color and funny looking women.

So, Journal Fodder 365 has twelve sections which give you suggestions.  For each chapter, there is a theme for the month and first one Gathers their Forces...images, emphemera, photos, whatever you might want to incorporate to support your theme.  Then there is a section on Strategic Planning in which writing prompts will push you to explore a different concept each month. And finally, the section on Utilizing Your Resources in which they encourage encounters daily with a variety of materials... a few each month.  I have started my first month and am really having fun as I think about the prompts they have given me, which for the first month are specifically about who I am...what a deep question but I don't have to write out a big theses...little lists work just was well...and doodling on the page and not worrying about what the finished page with look like.  What a relief!

I mentioned before Robert Burridge and his working book and studio notes called Loosen Up. This is a collection of handouts that he gives out during his workshops.  But he has tremendous ideas for letting go and doing the work to get where you want.  For instance, I have started doing some warm up painting before I start painting.  Lots of fun.  I spend some time putting gesso on heavy water color paper, cutting it down in size, and then thinking about what I want to do, such as what I want to paint, and then how I want to do it.  So it is all warm ups but there is much to be learned.

For the day I started I used a simple shape--the heart. But I sat down and decided what colors I wanted to use and also brush stroke ideas such as smooth, long, short, loaded with paint, or whatever.  And this is what I got.  Four small hearts, each one done in a fairly short time.  On two I did go back and make some changes which made it more the way I wanted it to be.

 So after that I decided to work on some paper and used a quarter sheet which I had gessoed heavily the day before. Each of the heart paintings had had their substrate done the day before so things were really dry.

Then, working with just a yellow and a red I did a very simple landscape which has a lot of texture also.

I first started out these not using white and then decided I needed to lighten things so in the hearts you can see the difference between including white and not using it.

And then, finally, a little more realistic landscape on a meadow which I am still thinking about. I am trying to decided if I want to add some trees along the horizon...which would need to become more prominent and level.

Still thinking.

But today I have spent time painting on a couple of 1/4 sheets of water color paper which I added gesso to and also rice paper to create something much more three dimensional.  I am using the processes from another book, Celebrate You Creative Self, by Mary Todd Beam.  I have been looking through the book for some time but now I am actually working through some of her lessons and not worrying about it if looks like her work or not.

This afternoon I look forward to finishing the satin stitching on another Triangular Intersections piece that I am doing in color...all solids for right now but I am enjoying the process.

thanks for coming along with me...this feels good!

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