I have been keeping a sketchbook since I started making art about 10 years or so ago. It's a wonderful way to keep track of anything you want. Some days I only log the date and a few sentences about what I did in the studio. Other days, my entries are longer and more detailed. One of the things I do consistently is to make notes about any pieces that I am working on. These notes help with blogging (remembering details) and they also serve to show me how my thinking evolves as I work each piece.
The above piece started with those red ovals. Originally I imagined them in a line, straight up and down. When I tried out this idea I really hated it. Large straight lines are really hard to work with. As I moved the pieces around I realized that they could be in a flower formation. Duh! I glued that idea down and then I was stuck. Really well and truly stuck!
I must have stared at the piece for one solid day, making notes and thinking and sometimes doing other things outside the studio. I was also a little under the weather that weekend and as I lay there kind of dozing off, my mind was free to imagine all sorts of things. I remembered that my friend and I had had a conversation about the magic 8 ball. I wondered later what might happen if the ball had a lid and you took it off. Would it be like Pandora's box?
Over the course of the weekend I just started to free associate, for lack of a better term. I thought about snakes and man eating plants, I pictured butterflies and parts of the human body, like the brachea and trachea. A snippet of Sting's song, The Lazarus Heart, came into my mind. (In the song he references a wound from which a flower grows.) I also began to think about adding a figure to the scenario. I remembered Stephen King's book, Bag of Bones. The plot of that book involves a widowed writer at a haunted cabin called Sara Laughs. I hadn't made this connection before but the character's deceased wife was trying to have a baby before she died (and possibly having trouble conceiving). I thought about the biblical story of Sarah and Abraham, in which Sarah laughs at God when he tells her that she will bear children at an impossibly advanced age. I mention all of these details to show how making art is often like pulling various unrelated threads together. The threads may seem unrelated at first but I think one of my tasks is to pull those threads together and to make something totally new from them.
I hemmed and hawed about using the figure (seen at the right side of the piece). I had some other elements in place by then but couldn't move forward. I kept wanting to use the figure and thinking that it would look stupid if I tried it. Finally, my decision was made once I realized that I could scrap the whole piece if I wanted to, if things didn't work out. That was very liberating. It would only be a few wasted days, no big deal. Self doubt should never be a sticking point. The attitude must always be one of "screw it, I am gonna give this a try."
Everything else came together easily once I got the figure situated. I am pleased with the results which is good. The piece is something that I would like to look at for a long time.
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