I'm not an expert on anything. I will pass on some information that I have learned and when put into use I have found works.
I came to my artistic voice late in life. I am self taught and owe a great deal of my current education to the sharing of knowledge by other artists through the Internet.
I've taken the online classes, read the books and tried to put into practice what I have learned.
I also owe a great deal to the Studio Artists that have met at my Studio for the past four years. They enthusiasm and willingness to experiment, play, learn new skills has definitely brought my artwork up a notch. Thank you fellow artists.
Recently, I heard one of them preface her introduction to her Show and Tell items with, "I had fun on my Studio Play Day but these aren't very good." It reminded me of an excellent cook who serves dinner by telling you that it's not her best roast or chicken or pie. And, then you take a bite and wonder what the best could possibly taste like since this is out of this world.
If we announce, before hand, that our work, whatever it is, isn't up to some rigid standards, not our best, is it false modesty or do we honestly believe that?
I've talked about this before over the years, those internal "tapes" that we have going around and around in our brains, on this forever loop. These little messages that come from our past, overheard, beliefs that aren't ours and just generally a lot of negative garbage that doesn't help us grow.
Most of us aren't even aware of them. They loop around and around, in our brains, always there, just waiting for an opportunity to move to the forefront of our awareness and make themselves known.
The "What makes you think you can draw? Well, what do you expect when you have never had a real class? What on earth is that? "That's nice but you know it isn't really art. Well, don't quit your day job."
Oh, my, that's just a tiny tiny little sample of what you might have going on in that head of yours.
I once took a course, at the UW, where we had to keep a journal and constantly and I mean CONSTANTLY write down exactly what thought came into our minds. It was tiresome, exhausting and quite an eye opener. It's a one sided conversation going on, ALL THE TIME. Most of us block it out but we've heard it and it will effect our body, how we stand, how we conduct ourselves, even our facial expressions. We react emotionally to these "hidden tapes" without even realizing it.
I like recipes. I like instructions that set out steps.
If I follow the steps I have a 80% chance of success.
I could even have 100% if all the signs are good and the Goddess is smiling on me or the oven is actually staying at the correct temperature.
Following steps is a good place to start but practice is what gets the cellular memory going. It's what makes us as good as we are going to get until we learn how to correct a step. See it in a different way.
Up until this year I have generally created my pieces without a plan. I might have had a theme to work with but I improvised. With what knowledge I had stored in my head from classes and reading I could pull together pieces that worked, somewhat.
This past year, through the group book study and some serious work on color theory and design layout I've seen things move in a slightly different direction. A direction that please me.
I love color. Except for olive green which I find hard to deal with I really do love all the colors. While sorting my fabric stash, recently I saw that I did have some colors that I had a preference for, like blue. I also saw that what I thought was blue was really more of a blue-red and that slight difference does make a difference when you are working with pulling together colors for a project.
So, you are starting a new project. You have a theme, maybe it's a vague idea, still rough around the edges but you have something. You have an INTENTION to do something.
That's where we start. With an INTENTION. Not and I need you to pay attention here, NOT A GOAL.
In your creative space, where ever it is, you need to put the goal setting aside. The goal setting is a linear quest. It will get you from point A to point B but it will become judgemental if you stray. It will start pushing tapes to center stage to get you back on track.
Goal setting is helpful to rev your motors, to set the stage and then to take a break and let the intention take over. Intention will provide you with surprises, pleasant ones, new ideas, new directions that will still get you to your destination.
You have your intention. You think about how you want to express this intention. This is where you think about color. Color will tell your viewer what's going on, is this a warm piece, cool piece, seasonal piece, emotional piece? How do you want it to effect the viewer? You may like to work in bright happy colors but if your theme is something that is quiet and you want the viewer to think seriously about it, you would be sending mixed messages to go crayon box bright.
Get out your color chart. Pick the main color that is going to dominate your piece and then look to the choices you have. An opposite color? Get the right one. Pull out your fabrics if you are working in fiber and sort your shades within the hue. You need different values. And, don't forget textures.
I start pulling the fabrics, then the netting's, lace, ribbons, silk organza, cheesecloth, embroidery floss, threads. It all goes into a pile on the table. I want as many different selections available to me as possible when I start to get in the zone. I want to glance up at that pile and see just the "thing" to add.
That doesn't mean that at some point I will find I'm not happy about something and during a break I will wander around the studio or sit there staring at a corner of the room until it dawns on me that there is something over there in one of the boxes that I need.
Because, if I am working with INTENTION I have allowed myself this space for change or adjustment.
I've allowed myself a place to "listen" to my inner self. Not the negative tapes but what I rather like to call my SOUL. When I create from the place of INTENTION I play from a sacred place. We all can.
It's a place where the Soul whispers and we create together. It's that space where there is no sense of time. Where things just seem to come together.
Once you have your color lineup that decision has been made. Now move on to a design layout. Why?
Because there is a reason they have been developed over the ages. There is a reason why it has been researched how our eyes track something. There are reasons not necessarily rules why something looks better placed in a certain spot on a piece. If you think of them as rules, they can be broken but if you break them it has to work.
Think of them as road maps. The bones of your piece. The structure.
You now have your colors, your design layout and an intention. It's time to set aside goal setting part and play. You have your colors. I've found that lately I've been limiting myself to three or so hues and working within a range of values within each hue. With a variety of darks, mediums and lights I have a visual impact on the viewer.
Even if my piece is not abstract I tend to think in terms of large shape, medium shape and small shape. I want movement then remembering those shapes will create movement.
There will be times I want to keep my edges and corners darker than the center area. There will be time I need to remember that a line is not necessarily straight. There will be times that I need to remember that a shape can convey something to the viewer without going into photo like quality detail.
That's what Mixed Media is all about in my book. So, the first layer down is just to cover my substrate. It's to set out the bones of the piece. I don't commit anything that I absolutely love on these beginning layers, paper or fabric. I'm going to be covering these layers so I don't want to lose something that I care about.
Even if I'm using fabric I will most likely put paint on it or another layer of different kind of fabric or metal, who knows. This is where the play comes in.
That's enough for you to get yourself started. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself a chance to get into the creative flow by switching gears. Work from INTENTION instead of GOAL SETTING mode.
Look at what is around you through a child's eyes.
Remember that we are ALL CREATIVE. I don't care what that person from your past told you about FINE ART, CRAFT and Your art. I disagree with them. In fact if there was a way to go back and remove their words from your tape bank I would or even give them a good cuff on the back of the head!
We ARE creative beings. We have our flaws, our
issues, our baggage but we are more than all of that. When we create we have an opportunity to dance with our Souls or Inner Selves or whatever name you are comfortable naming it.
So please, leave the negative tapes outside of the place where you create. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and slowly let the air out. Take another and think about what your intention will be and have fun.
Don't forget to visit the new blog.