Hi Everyone, I haven't written a blog for a while… I said in my last note that I was working from a very small corner of my spare bedroom, well this blog comes from there too. My new working space is starting to take shape but it's taking quite a bit longer than I thought it would, good electricians seem to be as rare as hens teeth at the moment! I hadn't realised how much this would affect what I can work on. I am trying to teach myself the fine art of patience but it's a bit of a struggle. Anyway… I am very much aware that this is a self-made 'first world' problem so I will stop moaning…
Thankfully I have been able to get on with a few things, one of which is embellishing some of my prints. I have focused on the 'Forest of Iron Lines' series as I feel this gives me quite a bit of scope playing with the abstract iron patterns. I have made extensive use of the 23.5 carat Gold Leaf as well as some gorgeous Calligraphy Inks which are a joy to use. I am very aware that when we are being creative we can tell how much we are enjoying ourselves when we vanish into our own world and you lose all track of time, I believe this is the 'Flow State' in the world of mindfulness. I can confirm that working on these prints definitely sent me into the flow state… great fun indeed.
'Here are the 3 that I have worked on to such a state that I think they are 'finished' although the temptation to continue to tinker is very strong indeed.
I've used the same shapes and colours across each of the images so that I keep coherence within the series which I think is important. It's interesting how, over time, my view of the individual images changes too. When I first worked on 'Urban Storm' (far right) I wasn't sure about it at all, I doubted it was strong enough to stand on its own. As I worked on the embellishments though my view has changed completely, it is now one of my firm favourites and I think it was just crying out for a 'story'. Working on the embellishments has allowed me to add that story and, for me, I think the image comes into it's own.
The Shadows Glow
I haven't been completely idle on other things... 'Dark Shadows' was a working title for a new series of images although as I worked on the project it became clear that I needed to think of a better title as the images are much brighter and more colourful than I thought they would.
When I worked on 'The Splintered' one of my goals was to work with muted colours as a way of challenging myself. I thoroughly enjoyed using a muted palette but my need to work in colour seems to be bursting through in this new series and has resulted in my changing the working title to something more exciting.
Here are a few images from this new series. The images themselves are as yet untitled but I am really excited about this series. I am working from a single source file again but I am sampling some bits and pieces from some other images this time to spice things up a bit. Quite colourful as you can see...
I've stumbled across a fascinating book which is making me think about the process that I follow when working on anything other than chores; "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp (such a great name!). Twyla is a choreographer and many of the techniques she references are related to dance but so many of the concepts can be applied to all creative endeavours.
She talks about sources of inspiration and how we can fire our imagination. She references the concept of 'Scratching', the process of digging around looking for something which will spark ideas, both big ideas which will change the world (well, sort of) and small ideas which still move us forward but much more incrementally. Scratching is what we do while we are waiting for the thunderbolt to hit us, when the tiniest atom of an idea will get us moving whether this is from books, galleries, conversations, mentors etc.
Scratching done poorly can look like borrowing or copying (god forbid) but the trick is to take these little ideas we have scratched for and combine a few of them into a new structure which we can grab as our own and run with.
She cites Harvard psychologist Stephen Kosslyn and his identification of the 4 stages of acting upon an idea:
- Generate the idea: usually from memory, experience or activity
- Retain it: hold it steady in your mind and keep it from disappearing
- Inspect it: study it and make inferences about it
- Transform it: alter it in some way to suit your purpose
I find this whole concept fascinating and it has made me think about the way I approach my work and where I take my inspiration. Here is where I think I am in terms of these 4 concepts:
- Generate the idea: I know I don't look at the work of other artists enough but I am changing that now I have more time. I do have plenty of books which are in general circulation around my home but there is also Social Media which can be (and is) a great source of inspiration if used carefully and wisely.
- Retain it: This is always tricky. I can often find myself getting excited about something and then forgetting what that 'thing' was quite soon after. Creative Journalling I find helps greatly here, if I write something down it seems to help it 'stick' in my mind.
- Inspect it: Again, the journalling helps here as I start to build up a history of thoughts and ideas which I can then review and hopefully piece together to make something which is my own and which I think I can run with for a while. Organising images on the computer is also a part of this, quick edits to try something out need to be readily identifiable weeks/months later, not lost in the chaos of our collective filing systems!
- Transform it: This for me is where the magic lies. Allowing time to play and explore and using the first 3 steps consciously and intentionally is how we/I move forward. I often find myself 'scratching' around for something to work on without looking at my journal or in folders on the computer marked 'Ideas to work on' (yes, I have one!) and wonder why I get nowhere. Being consciously aware of the first 3 stages makes the 4th stage so much more productive and enjoyable.
Anyway, that's enough for now I think. If any of my ramblings spark any thoughts or ideas that you think might be of interest please do leave a comment... I always read and reply to everything.
Take care everyone and stay safe in this mad world.