Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Inspiration & Creativity" - TIME TO WAIT!

Set back, take a big breath, wait and think.

It’s now time to ponder your new ideas and any sketches you have made.  Maybe leave the drawings and notes for a few days or even longer.  You don’t want to leap into a huge project BEFORE you have considered all of the possibilities.  Planning a painting or a rug is like telling a story.  At the base level, we are all story tellers and the better we understand the need for balance, harmony, relationships of components and color arrangement the better our story will come out.   These components are much more critical when planning some styles of art or rugs.  If you are painting a still life then there can be a very strong story, or not, but the relationship of the objects in the painting is important.  The same is true of a landscape rug.  If you are designing a primitive hooked rug then the rules of balance and perspective are not quite as important.  All things to ponder first before you leap into a monster rug and then find something isn’t working right.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to consider and questions to ask of yourself.   

1.  Does this design reflect cleanly and completely what I’m trying to say?
2.  Can I take away any part of my drawing that does not fit? 
3.  Can I add something to the drawing that is important to tell the story?
4.  Is the drawing balanced, i.e., a good repetition of components throughout            
                   that work together?
5   Do I need to consider any one thing the focal point in my rug?
6.  Color – what colors and where do I place them?  Remember the need to spread the color around – red here, then some red over there.  Enough on color because I digress.

Here are a couple of exercises that work for me:

Do additional thumbnail sketches and re-arrange the individual design components several different ways until you find one that you like.

Make full size cut out shapes of all of your subject pieces, i.e., cat, duck, dog, horse, crow, geometric shapes in different sizes, houses, trees, cars and so on.

Get a large piece of paper the size of the rug you want to make.  Here is what I use.

 You can buy this paper from moving companies and shippers.  The bundles are huge!  Best kept secret that most artists don’t even know exists so avail yourself of this wonderful inexpensive resource.  I have called around and prices vary but I’ve found that the large moving companies are the least expensive.  You can buy a large 25# bundle, which will last you a LIFETIME!  I could not get the exact sheet count but when I asked the salesman as to whether it was maybe the size of a ream (500 sheets) he said “oh my, probably more than that!” for around $32.  You can also buy much less in 10# amounts.  U-Haul sells the paper at 70 sheets for $5.95 and 200 sheets for $9.95.  The sheets from the moving companies  are 24” x 36” and from U-Haul they are 24” x 27”  If you are going to be doing a larger rug than these sizes then just cut and tape extensions to these sheets.  One note, I’ve being using one large 25# bundle of this paper for 20+ years and I still have maybe 100 sheets left – so buy wisely or buy to share with others!

Now, back to our discussion on topic.

Put all your shapes on the paper and start moving them around until you find an arrangement you like.  Rearrange your design pieces in different ways until you get one that makes you sing – “that’s it.”

Think about how wide you want your border to be and what type of design pieces would go with the central theme of your rug.  Maybe even do some cut outs of those pieces and position around the rug’s edges.  

When a composition works, you will know it almost instinctively.  I could go into a lot on the topic of “rules” about composition but I’ll save that for another discussion at some point in the future. For the time we will leave the “rules” about composition, line, balance, focal point for another time.  For now, just focus on emotion and whether your drawing/arrangment “talks” to you and makes you happy.  Why else do these rugs if it’s not to make our selves happy anyway?  If you are determined to move into the art world of galleries and shows then a little time spent on understanding some of the above topics on “rules” will be necessary tools to learn but for now just focus on what you love.   If you are designing a rug that is primitive or whimsical then you don’t usually have to worry too much about composition rules. 

One final thought on inspiration.

No one person has a corner on the “creativity” market; it’s open to all of us.  Many rules have been written for artists to follow, some good and some not so good.  Many rules are valuable assets to learn and many rules scream to be broken.  First learn the rule, and then decide if you want to break it and why.  A good understanding of design, color, line, perspective and texture will always be beneficial elements to have tucked away in your creative toolbox for when you need them.
I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on "inspiration and creativity" and learned a few tips to help you go forth and tap your own inner core of creative juice.   These techniques have worked for me for many years.  I don’t always go through the entire multiple steps each time I plan a rug or a painting.  Many of these steps are very ingrained in my brain and therefore I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them.  If I’m arranging a still life painting I just add and subtract objects, somewhat like moving paper pieces around on a large piece of paper, until I get the arrangement I like and then I photograph it.  I look at the many photos on my computer, delete and analyze until I get the one that says, “that’s it.” If I do get hung up and something isn’t working then I’ll go back to these exercises and explore where I might fix my problem. 

I hope you find these recommendations to accessing your “inspiration & creativity” useful and you will give them a try.  There is nothing more satisfying than the ability to bring forth YOUR VERY OWN ideas and create beautiful original designs no matter whether it's painting, rug hooking or maybe even writing a novel.  Give them a try and I bet you probably will be surprised at what happens next.

If you liked these helpful hints about “inspiration and creativity” then drop me a note.  If you have other areas about design, color and rug hooking or painting you would like to see explored then e-mail me.

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