Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winging It

Time to develop creative ideas always seems to be in short supply. Actually finding enough time in the day, week or month frequently is a premium commodity all too often. I think, we have become victims to the intensity of the noise around us, which tends to agitate us rather than inspire us. We read of others’ success and great accomplishments, and wonder, What’s wrong with me?

The perceived lack of adequate time pushes the artist to run into the studio and just start flinging supplies around hoping something wonderful will come out of the chaotic frenzy. Plowing full steam ahead may lead to spending time and money on a project that once finished, may be very disappointing. Trying new techniques and approaches without the benefit of experience and, yes, practice, can be fun and exhilarating but expecting awe- inspiring results can be deflating and anything but great. There’s nothing wrong with playing with your favorite supplies just to see what happens, but winging it is not recommended as a full time pursuit. One of my favorite sayings is, Winging it can be an artist’s best friend or their worst enemy.

I am one of those people, who will try-out, rehearse a new technique or a new art supply just to see what happens. Can I use it in my art? Is it a viable alternative to some method I know and use frequently? Will the technique accomplish what I envision for an image? Mostly, do I understand and appreciate the tar pit I may fall into if I use this technique?

Consequently, I make small samples before incorporating a new idea into a larger work. My example is Feather and Dot, 9" x 12". The smaller portion is 4" x 6½" and is the results of experimentation with a new supply in my arsenal. I like using tulle netting as shadows in my pictorials. I read about spraying tulle netting with "505® Spray and Fix", a temporary fabric adhesive, to position a single layer of tulle. I needed to know does it work? And, is it easier than another method of attaching netting? Yes, and the one pitfall is, the netting remained sticky to the touch for a very long time. Until the adhesive evaporates on tulle netting, it will attract dust, bits of thread and, I suppose flies and mosquitoes, although that did not happen.

The lessons learned were the advantages and disadvantages using 505® spray on some textiles. Making a small sample meant I didn’t lose 10 days on a larger piece because of tacky tulle netting. I also learned to place whatever I wish to spray with
505® in the bottom of a cardboard box to contain the spray droplets from lending stickiness to other nearby surfaces. It has its uses, is a great product, but one must read and follow carefully the instructions on the label.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pattern Envelope Contents

Because I am preparing for an art gallery show in July, and also working towards having an entry to meet the May deadline for the annual Houston show, the clasp envelopes I use to keep everything in order are the only "control" I have over potential chaos. When completed, each file goes into a file cabinet.

The question may be what kinds of items go into each envelope?

Using Badlands as an example that I have just pulled from my file cabinet, I open the labeled envelope and find not only the Master Pattern, but also, I discover small sketches of the beadwork pattern used on the jacket and the experiments I made to create the faux beadwork. A deadline prevented me from
learning genuine beadwork, which is taught locally by Native American artisans who learned from their grandmothers. Neatly folded are the tracing paper template patterns I followed of various sections in the master design. There is a small practice swatch of a border quilting design I did use. Each piece serves to remind me what occurred during the process.

For current work, I will place in its envelope a sample swatch of each fabric selected & glued to a recycled shirt cardboard, and the tracing paper template from which each piece is cut from freezer paper. I do not cut up the tracing paper template because I need it to keep an accounting of what has been done. Rather I make a freezer paper copy that is cut apart to make each fabric piece. If I am interrupted by another concern, when I come back that traced pattern serves to help focus me where I need to be without spending time matching and comparing, wondering and spinning wheels. The full size master pattern is on a wall and does not come down until the work is completed. It, too, is my reference guide throughout the work.

Another bonus for keeping envelopes is I love sorting through any envelope because I will discover notes written to me so I would not forget flashes of ideas during the building of a wall hanging. Revisiting former designs provide me with reminders of possible titles I conjured up in the middle of cutting or stitching. Ideas are written on a scrap of paper or on the Master Pattern. There may also be an address or a quote I heard on the TV or radio. Who knows what I will find on any piece of documentation? Occasionally, it can be down right hilarious to see the notes I wrote to myself, which leads me to ask another question, What in the world were you thinking, Carol?

The clasp envelopes are my documentation of each work that I create. If I ever wish to piggyback from a former work and use an element in a different manner in a new work, I can open any envelope and find the starting point. I can read my notes of inspiration to cheer me forward to completion of an original idea with a different viewpoint. Or, I can be reminded of pitfalls I may have encountered along the way. Either discovery is highly useful.