Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Art and Technique of Design: practice AND feedback

What inspires us to design?
To actually want to arrange beautiful shapes in a beautiful and stunning way..

 I’m not asking what images do we find lovely, intriguing and inspirational. 
Instead, I mean what is it that will make us sit down and make a proper job of designing an art piece?

 There are many “design guidelines’, with which I’m exceeding familiar  but in the heat of the moment, or very often, on my part through sheer laziness, I say oh what the heck and just plunge in!  And in nearly every case I am soon confronted with a mess.  So then I spend ages and ages trying to fix it and simply end up with an overworked mess!! I think this can happen in any medium, I'm certainly coming across it in watercolor...my piles of "waste paper" grow daily!

But, without play it's unlikely we'll come up with anything new.  The first ideas you have are nearly always too rigid, too glued to the original image, too predictable.  So, you must forgive yourself for that!  But then when the idea is good and fresh...then what?

esb apr 11 plein air a

Well while research show that Practice and experience are really important...it's not just hours and hours of practice...it's also Feedback
We all need feedback, and the more informed the feedback the better.  I give  a lot of feedback in my classes, both in reality and online, but I realise I need it for myself too.  In my situation I’ve found it more helpful to get feedback from people who work in other mediums because they’ll address the compositional issues.  Another quiltmaker would be inclined to focus more on the stitching or technical issues.  
So I joined a plein air painting group.  My cogitations led me to the idea that if I came up with a good design or selection of colors while composing and painting in the fresh air I could translate those to a quilt design.  Now this is a keen group of people working in many different mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, colored pencil, sumi-e ink, photography, collage, mixed media and sculpture.  (so obviously they needed a textile person too!) The leader of the group drives around the area seeking out inspirational views and then we are all emailed with a time and destination!  It’s great fun and one is much more inspired to design in the company of others.  As well as not feeling like a blinking idiot sitting on one’s own sketching on a muddy farm track or  in the botanical gardens!

esb apr 11 plein air b

Everybody sets about the task with great seriousness, and because we will all share the results at the end of the morning, I find I set to with proper intention and am much less inclined to mess about.  Also there’s the added fact that the computer, email and scrabble games don’t work in the middle of a field of canola! I’ve learned a lot from being in this group.  It makes me really use the knowledge I have.

yes, I know...groups come and groups go....be prepared for that...but look for all opportunities to be out there practicing AND getting feedback.
EVEN if the feedback is not necessarily good, e.g. one friend I ask always likes the work with bright colors regardless of anything else!!!...even then the experience of looking at the work with someone else helps you to be more objective...

And, if you have been, thanks for reading, I’m headed off to a grass verge somewhere!     Elizabeth
PS All feedback is sooooooooooo helpful…please, just hit the comment tag and speak!


Elsie Montgomery said...

My biggest problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day. I'd love to be in a group like that, but am having trouble with the to-do list being too long now. How do you do it? I tease my hubby that I need a houseboy but that isn't working. I've heard said that we can always find time for what we really want to do but that isn't working either. Any tips or wise words about fitting in the desires of my heart?

Jo Vandermey said...

Good thoughts on practice and feedback. The art of practice should be taught. The ability to make and not be so hung up on making a finished project. Just practice and maybe the rest will start to fall into place. I have a good friend and I that work well together and trust each other enough to get honest feedback. It is tough to find a group that sometimes isn't competing.

Ellen Lindner said...

Having a plan is definitely worthwhile. I, too, have had times that I just jumped in and it did NOT work. (Reminds me of your story about letting the dog decide where you'd go on a walk.)

I'd love to see some photos of your inspiration location, along with the resulting painting. (In addition to the one shown in your post.)

Do you always try to replicate the view pretty realistically? Or do you just want to be inspired by it?

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Elsie!!!! Great questions....I think in a few days I'll write a blog about how I do this....maybe there will be something useful in there for you!!! all the best, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hey Jo, you are so right...we don't learn HOW to practice....or how to learn.
I watched a lot of Robert Bjork talking about some learning and practice techniques he uses...some might be applicable here, others not.
Good feed back is so essential....
I think daily practice is essential too...but it doesn't have to be for long if not much time is available.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Ellen,
like the questions!!! those would make a great blog....
so I'll work on that...meanwhile to be brief...
as with my quilts I don't try to be realistic, rather inspired by...I think photography is the best for realism!
So a lot of editing, a lot of figuring out what is important...and why....
I really try to think WHY I took that photograph...when I work from photos.
If in plein aire of course I have to rely on other people happening to photograph me and the scene!!
good to hear from you ...Elizabeth