The importance of keeping Work in Progress




I think of fall as being a creative time of year. I do not know if it is because I had some measure of success with creative projects during the fall, or if it is that cooling weather makes me want to focus on making things. Possibly it is the whole idea of dressing up and planning costumes for Halloween. No matter what the reason, I am preparing to take on what have become two of my favorite challenges. Nanowrimo, (National Novel Writing Month) and The Create Every Day Challenge. These both take place in November.

Several of the authors whose blogs, twitter or facebook that I follow have different opinions on Nanowrimo. Anton Strout hates it and enjoys mocking the participants every year. Others support and encourage it. For me, it provides a focal point. A month that I know that I am going to commit to setting a goal and working daily towards it.

I know that last year, I wrote daily, I blogged daily, created daily, participated in several online communities daily and then when I came out of it I signed up for the year long create everyday.  I discovered that trying to do all of it everyday all year was too much.

This year, I am going to try and set up patterns that are productive and sustainable. Creating something everyday is a must, be that writing, or artwork or making of some other kind. everyday are two that I mean to keep up with. Participating in  communities is great as long as you are getting as much out of it as you are putting into it. When you are putting more energy into something than you are getting benefit out of it, it is not sustainable, and it is a drain.

One of the reasons that Anton gives for hating Nanowrimo is that it fosters bad habits, such as putting off writing. That is one of the balance things that I am going to use this November to address. I am currently setting aside a certain amount of time to do the prep work to get me ready to write in November.

I choose this painting on which I am currently working as my picture for today to remind me, that the only way to get to a finished product is to keep working on it.  I keep getting stalled on this painting thinking it is this or it isn’t that, and then suddenly I know what needs to be done next, and progress is made. It does not have to be everything all at once, the important part is keeping the work in progress, that will lead you to your goal.


Impulse and rhythm.


Riding the train

When it comes to creating, one of the things that is both the hard part and the easy part is starting. The hard part is getting myself to the location where I am to paint, write, sketch, sew or otherwise work on what I am doing.  Once I have put my fingers to the task at hand and begun to generate whatever it is that I am working on, it just starts to happen. The words flow without stop onto the page or an image begins to take shape and time flies by without me noticing. That feeling of effortlessness sheer enjoyment is why I create. I often wonder if the runners who talk about that runners high are feeling the something similar, but I have never been inspired to run enough to find out.  There is a rhythm to creating that a regular routine makes it easy to get into that effortless place.  I suspect it is very much the same for runners.    The other side of creating for me is impulse. Sometimes impulse is inspiration, sometimes it just that, an impulse.  I know many creatives who get blocked waiting for INSPIRATION, as if it was something magical without which they cannot move.  The picture for this post is one I took on impulse. There was something about the mix of luxury, practical and worn in this train car that inspired me.   The photo itself failed to capture what I saw, so it sat in the file folder for several years.   I came across it again while doing what I think of as a creative workout, the sitting down and working with out waiting for that flash of inspiration.  As I worked on the image, the inspiration came for a story that would allow me to bring out the details that drew me to the image.

From the Side of the Road

Today has been one of “those” days. I am trying to remember that the problems I have been given are opportunities for growth. As I sit here waiting for my husband’s physical therapy appointment to end, I have some time to gather my thoughts and prepare today’s post. Through the blessing of today’s modern technology I have in my hands several books, my blogging software and several graphics program. I can take this time to create, to read and write to you.

Basics- Rhythm and balance

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These are four very similar photographs, with very slight differences between them.

Rhythm plays a key role in these photographs. The black lines of the window grid set a strong rhythm.  The way the green  leaves and dark butterfly disrupt, but follow this rhythm make them the focus.  Balance is another key player here. The balance between the light and the dark,  and the positive and the negative.

For me, I feel the lower left hand image does the best job with the balance and the rhythm. I felt the lighter color butterfly in the other images some how threw the combination out of balance.

In the lower left hand, the unbroken field of while along the bottom of the image, balances with the bright white area that balances the green leaves.

Others may disagree. My daughter for one feels the upper left image is the best. When asked why, she says because it is. Part of what makes all of art interesting is that it is up to the artist to choose which principals of design to follow.

Checking in CEDC Challenge


Currently underway are a lot of Mixed Media pieces.  Many are using materials that I had in and around my studio collaged into them.   There is a snow storm blowing in over the weekend, so I might have to add the pictures later.

I am enjoying the process of covering each layer and then letting the adhesive dry to see exactly what you have, and where to go from there.  I am finding that with each layer and sanding, I am building something that seems to be much more than the sum of the parts. Each piece seems to have a personality of its own that is developing. 

There is something very free about mixed media, it seems such an exploration, yet in all it comes back to the basic principals and elements of design.  If the design is not sound, the artwork will reflect that.   What many people call “talent” is just a matter of understanding these principals.  Just like with everything else their are those that pick it up without much effort, but that does not mean that it is out of the reach of anyone else. 

Every class I have taken has had a slightly different set  or way of describing  the principals of  design.  

A partial list follows:

Balance, Rhythm, Proportion, Strength, and Unity. proximity, alignment, repetition or consistency, contrast, visual hierarchy, symmetry / asymmetry, Dynamics, Emphasis.

I find collage to be a fun way to play while learning these principals.  Clearly if you look at the scrapbook aisles of any craft store, you will find that it clearly appeals to a large number of people. 

One of the things I am working on is a series of articles/class notes on how to discover and understand these principals without it being painful and boring.  The other series I am working on is one on social media basics, and the web for artists.  Critique, feedback and discussion are welcome.  My goal is to grow unique as an artist, and help others along that same path.