Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Setting Parameters

steelyardfrieze 300

Have you ever found it difficult when you’ve come to the end of a piece, or series of pieces, to know where to go next? 
Where do I start?
There are a number of strategies that get me going again.  Looking at inspirations…I’m one of those horrors that rips out magazine pages when they’re reading, applies sticky notes to book pages, or strips of tissue when I can’t find the  stickies, or worst of all – simply piles up open books and magazines in a medieval morasse! 

But one of the things, I observe, that really gets me moving is to Set Parameters.  I noticed this when (in the good old days!) people would commission me to make this or that: it has to be a certain size, colour, content and mood…… immediately I would feel energized:  loads of ideas,  drawing, painting or cutting up and collaging away. 
There are times when I do better with an external hard drive, it seems!

So that’s what I’ve been doing recently…Setting Parameters.    (Interestingly, I notice in at least one of her gorgeous books, Nancy Crow  has lists of parameters up on her studio wall).
First I decided on the size: a group of smaller pieces that related and would look good hanging together.  I had loads of huge long drawings of various industrial sites…here’s one from Canada.  this drawing is 6’ or 7’ wide.   I have been making very wide pieces like this but looking at it as I’d drawn it on several pieces of paper, I thought hmmm…doesn’t need to be all one piece…

total_sketch_hamilton_72ppi So that was my Inspiration start….then I said to myself: “okay, missus, come up with four designs based on this, each one should be 27” square, and they should all be made from this pile of fabric you just pulled out”.  I find if I give myself clear order, something is more likely to happen – must be that Convent School upbringing! (Bar Convent, York if anyone is interested!!).     Out of about a dozen rough sketches, I came up with three I really liked, so suggested to the management we change the number to three!    Then while making those three, I thought, you know, some of these three pieces have some really nice details…okay! you must make 3 more that are such and such a size, with these particular fabrics, and done in a particular way.  And, d’you know, I’m off and running!!!

Goodbye!   (and, ifyouhavebeen, thanksforreading!!)         Elizabeth

PS what gets you moving?


Clare Wassermann said...

aha thank you - at the end of two prjects which have been very time consuming today - I am debating that very question!

Unknown said...

As a teaching tool, I find creative constraints to be very effective. But I have times when I struggle personally with too-broad possibilities. Thanks for the inspiration -- I'm off to post a list of parameters in my studio.

Dee D said...

I love your blog and the food for thought you provide. Your Jan. 22nd posting really got me thinking and today I did a "look back" on my blog

Terry Grant said...

Ah yes. I usually find problem-solving gets my creative brain cells in gear.

Jackie said...

I enjoy working within constraints as well. I find they really clarify my thinking. And of course, my primary rule is that there are no rules, so I'm free to modify constraints at will--just ask the Management! Thank you.

Dee / Cloth Company said...

What a thought-provoking post! Deadlines, work, as we know -- but I love the idea of self-imposed parameters... has a friendlier feel.

Sandra Wyman said...

I will try setting parameters and let you know!

After a lifetime of teaching, with time divided up into 40-minutes slots I do find it good now not to have artificial restrictions.

What does it for me now is the discipline of observational drawing as a starting-point, even though at present I'm not doing representational work: it just gets me looking and sets me off on trails. Now what I find difficult is disciplining myself to be ruthlessly selective from a myriad of possibililies (a situation I must admit I enjoy enormously.
Sandra from Leeds who used to live in York (hadn't realised you were a Bar Convent girl!)

Anonymous said...

Setting parameters, limits, guidelines, making up a set of rules for a project, whatever the words used to describe it, the action is a must to make me focus on a way to achieve an outcome .... not just in quilting.

Judy B

Linda B. said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Did you know that the Bar Convent is now a B & B favoured by quilters visiting the QGBI Museum in York?

What goes around comes around ....