Saturday, March 08, 2014


Hi, my name is Bea and I like to rip out pictures from magazines and stuff them in a shoebox. Much to the disgust of some of my friends who hold magazines sacred.

I'm looking around and hey, don't look away. YOU do it too.
Ok, so maybe you don't stuff them in an old shoe box but I bet you have a stash of bits and pieces of pictures, photos, etc. that you like. You liked it when you ripped it out of the magazine and I bet you still like it now.

I'm not talking about recipes or projects for your home. If you are an artist I bet you have pictures, maybe even photos that you have taken that you enjoy looking at. Some of you actually have a Inspiration Wall or some place where you can see these bits and pieces every day.

It's time to talk about this obsession we have. Elizabeth Barton, in her new book, Inspired Design, Seven Steps to Successful Art Quilts has a section dedicated to the Inspiration Notebook. When I read this I found myself nodding my head and saying, "Oh yeah, I've got those."

So, I took her advise and I pulled out the box and took my time looking at each tidbit that I had stored away.
I looked at each picture one by one and jotted notes in my sketchbook. I HIGHLY recommend that you take the time to do the same.

Spring hasn't arrived yet, so, get yourself a nice hot pot of tea, something good to munch on and curl up in your favorite chair to do some very pleasant work.  TRUST ME
on this.  You are going to benefit from this activity. I mean think about it. So far you just got a box full of ideas. You haven't organized them, examined them or actually benefited from them. Let's make them work for us.

Ask yourself the following questions about the first picture you pull out. 
1. Why do you think it caught your eye?
2. Is it an ELEMENT.  Ok, time to think back to last post and your DESIGN ELEMENTS.  Remember?  The objects that you use in design to create your composition.
So, was it the COLOR? Maybe the SHAPES?  Are there interesting LINES?  See where I am going with this?
3. Make notes on what comes to mind.

The picture at the beginning of the blog is from my Inspiration File.   I really liked the pattern of shapes on this bed comforter.  So, here's a possible grid pattern that I might like to use.

This one you might think it was the pattern but actually the first thing that I thought of when I pulled it out of the box was, "Oh, I still like those colors together." So, I grab my color wheel and see that it is in a Blue Triad with different values in the red and yellow hues. 

Before I comment on this picture you might start to notice when you are doing this exercise that ideas start popping into your mind. JOT THEM DOWN!!!  Don't discard something that comes into your mind because it's NOT what you thought you had in mind to do.  Don't put the blinders on, stay open.  Maybe you thought you were going to do a piece on such and such but now, looking through your inspiration box you are getting much clearer ideas about which direction you might like to explore.  STAY OPEN TO THIS.
Jot down the thoughts. You don't have to go chasing after them right now but they are there and they can perk until you are ready to examine them further.

I obviously love the circles on this piece. I also love the TEXTURE from the thickness of the threads to the filling in of the circles. I think of this falling under SHAPE and LINE.

Do you remember the little notebook that the detectives carry around with them on TV?  They are always writing in them, taking notes at the crime scene.  I suppose pretty soon we will see product placement where they start using small IPads instead. But, for now, those little notebooks are a big HINT for us, fellow artists. Keep one with you, keep several with you. Buy a bunch of the little cheap spiral ones at the dime store and put them in your car, the pocket of your jacket, your purse, briefcase, bathroom, bedroom, all around the place. Because once you start thinking about your inspiration pictures, once you start the ideas perking in your brain you are going to have AH HA moments at the strangest of times and places. Serious about who you are and what you do, then be like the detective and take notes. Get those ideas, thoughts, images that flashed before your eyes while you were scrubbing the pot, DOWN IN THAT NOTEBOOK.

How many times have we not been able to think of something, frustrated left it alone and gone off to do whatever it is we do during the day, only to have the answer flash into our minds hours later? You feed your subconscious with images, thoughts, colors, patterns and then go off and do something else and it works away.

I always have this imagine in my mind of this tiny little old guy sorting through file drawers, in my mind, pulling out what he thinks fits, works or answers that questions or idea that is flashing in bright lights in HIS WORLD. 
Funny, it's never an old lady, just an little old man. Tiny little guy, well never mind we all have our quirks.

Now, I am NOT a fan of collecting whole pictures of works of art that other people have done. I really don't want that entire completed image in front of me. I don't want to be influenced by it. BUT, I will take a picture of a portion of it, the part that drew me to it in the first place. And, again, it's most likely the way the color was used, the pattern or shapes and lines.

This is a small portion of a painting that I saw in a store. I really liked the brush strokes along the line. I liked the "shapelessness" of the black marks.  I don't need a picture of the entire painting. I'm not going to copy or duplicate that work of art.  I do want to practice making those brush marks. I think they are interesting.

And, another bed quilt picture from a magazine. BASIC GRID DESIGN FORMAT, COLOR easy to figure out, so what caught my attention? Two things, the large block with the Bulls eye circle.  I like the way it extends out beyond the boundaries of the block edges. And the block with the elongated circles that see to barely touch and remind me of tree rings. I also like the block you can barely see at the bottom with the wavy black lines. I like the unevenness of the lines as if they were drawn by the non-dominant hand.

Picture from some book. Obviously it's the COLOR that first jumps out at me. I still love the colors but I also like the design placement of the lines. The diagonals on the left side, the vertical blocks of color, the texture vertical block and of course the irregular strips of blue going horizontal across that piece. And, we seem to be back to a favorite color blue and orange but wait there is green in this? So, I check my color wheel. I admit it, I'm not an expert on Color Theory, YET but I am making myself learn. It seems that this blue, green orange and red form a Tetrad and all the values in those hues can be used. Hmmmmm, I'm liking this.

So, no need for me to go on and on about this. We are returning to the basics to give us the tools we might be able to use on our journey to become better artists. 

I want to thank all those wonderful teachers out there that have taken the time to write excellent books of Color Theory, Design, The Techniques and all the other teaching aids. I wish I had time to take workshop, to travel to places and the money to do that. I appreciate all the artists that have shared their time and skills with online classes and free YouTube tutorials. In my book, anything that gets people excited about creating is SPOT ON!

So, find your Inspiration box or file.  Curl up and get to know yourself a little better. You've been giving yourself hints as long as you have been keeping that box. Now, let's start pulling them together to create WONDERFUL art in whatever form, watermedia, mixed media, fiber or whatever your interest is.




  1. Hi Bea...about your lack of a chip in the usually stick your chip into a slot on your computer to download the pictures...right? All you need to do is connect your camera to the computer using the USB cord that should have come with your camera to retrieve whatever is in the camera's built in memory. If you took more pics than that internal camera memory should still be able retrieve whatever was recorded before the memory ran out. Hope this helps.

  2. beautiful patterns!