Monday, December 7, 2009

Beginnings: first to tidy, then to find five strong shapes!

I’ve reached a stall point on my chain/unchained piece (!) – i.e. it’s in the client’s hands to decide the next step for there are many possibilities … studio is cleared – I only allow myself to tidy up when a piece is finished – or, as in this case, when my active part is suspended for a while.  I find having this rule is really helpful because it’s so easy to convince oneself that things need tidying and there you are right into a displacement activity and no energy is directed toward solving the problems in the piece on the wall!


However, all is calm and still now in the studio…ready for the beginning of a new piece.  So – how does that happen?  some people are able just to jump right in, pick up a piece of fabric, on the wall and off they go!  I admire this freedom! but cannot do it…I’m one of those people who makes lists and packs for days and considers all the alternatives before making a trip and making a piece is a journey too.  I’m more sanguine about reaching the end of the journey than I used to be…I know I usually reach the end, and if I don’t well, the sky actually has never fallen down!

So here I am in list making and alternative assessing mode which for me first involves harnessing the vague tendrils of thought  I’ve had about the next journey  – with luck I’ve written them down, or at least begun to collect items.  Twyla Tharp makes a shoebox for each piece she’s a great idea.  Very few artists begin in a complete vacuum…though many do the opposite:  start with a giant idea and vacuum away to approach the kernel!  I like to think back to what theme or image has tended to repeat or stick in my mind…I’m still very drawn to the industrial buildings, but I would like to break out into colour.

07novf   We planted several hundred acers (Japanese maples) around the house and my eyes have been feasting on all that saturated colour contrasting with the soft greys of the other trees in the background.  So I think that’s going to be my palette. 







I feel the need for a slightly bigger piece since I’ve just made several small ones for the FOQ show…

bluebeard's castle tracy st silos collieryhamilton small detail_thumb[4] thames power station_thumb[2]

So I’m beginning to firm up: size, shape (landscape), palette and theme.   Now I’m going to permit myself to play with sketching and particularly with reducing the elements in the sketches.  My friend is right! I do focus too much on details and that’s not what I like in other folks work, so why do it myself?aorist

I’ll give myself the goal of producing 10 sketches in the next couple of days based on industrial landscapes, but not excruciatingly realistic…looking at the big shapes and values only.   I read recently that a strong composition will have a very limited number of big shapes (as defined by different values)….I’ve tested this out by looking at work I really like and it’s definitely true of those pieces.

My frustrations with the chain/unchained piece have been because it doesn’t have such a defined composition being a more traditional overall pattern.  It was a good exercise to revisit the idea, but it helps me to see that is not an underlying structure to which I respond.  That’s not the tune I’m singing right now (insofar as a frog can sing of course!).    So having played and drawn 10 ideas out, I’m going to assess them for shapeliness!  I want about 5 strong shapes….off I go!

In order to really push myself, I’ll state that I’ll blog the sketches very soon…( though I am getting a new (yes! finally…a laptop! ..thank you to all those who’ve bought from me this year!) computer today – in the other operating system – I’m told switching is hard but it will be worth it when I get there!!  And it will definitely be good exercise for the little grey cells!)   …And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


Jackie said...

'Five strong shapes' Succinct, startlingly clear--I'll try it!

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

I got my new laptop yesterday, in the Other format. Now I need to get it setup and online.