Happy February! It's nearly Valentine's Day--time to re-commit to those works-in-progress, art journals, sketchbooks, and unfinished "fill in the blank" projects. Last February I wrote a post about Falling in Love with Your Personal Project, but what about when the honeymoon's over? How do you keep the flame alive?
For day-to-day inspiration I'm a great believer in prompts, especially magazine cut-out photos whether they're used for freewriting or as references for painting and drawing. But there's one big problem with magazine pics when it comes to art: the same images I use for writing are often too bizarre and/or detailed for sketching. I also sometimes resist drawing them because as fun as it is to write about a girl sitting on a throne wearing a giant moose head for a hat, I don't know how inspired I am to turn that idea into a finished painting. On top of that, there's always the big question of copyright law; reproducing photo images, no matter how loose the interpretation, can be tricky..
This year I want to expand my art prompts and "inspiration files" into something more personal and less as just things to copy. Some of the ways I thought I could do this would be to:
- Yes, continue clipping magazines--but with a difference: when I've got my images, I'll keep cutting and then collage them into strong images of my own design. Photographs that I would consider too dull for writing about are perfect for this, e.g., a pear from one picture, placed beside a teapot from another, with a cat from a random ad sitting close by. One advantage of this plan is I can really create the tonal values I want, combining serious darks with some brilliant lights, and all from a variety of sources.
- Purchase more used books for altering. Moving downtown has put me within walking distance to several great second-hand bookstores, including the Friends of the Library. At these shops I can buy a relatively inexpensive collection of out-of-print, oversize books to turn into altered sketchbooks. I can either draw directly onto the pages, or I can gesso, paint, and collage the book into something brand new. One advantage to this idea is I can try working more directly from my imagination rather than relying on pre-made images.
- Choose a theme and work on it for a month or longer in a variety of mediums, e.g., zoo animals. I can try drawing them in charcoal, acrylic, pastel, graphite, colored pencil, metallic marker, pen and ink . . . mud! Besides getting to explore more styles and techniques, I'll have a focused purpose and reason to draw every day. No more, "what do I draw now?"
- Illustrate a novel, or better still, one of my WIPs. This isn't a new idea for me, and I'm sure I've mentioned it before in previous posts, but it's always a good stand-by, particularly when choosing a theme like I mention above.
- Take my own photos and arrange them into a storyboard. Now we're talking! How about starting with say, three--beginning, middle, and end--but then consider expanding the "story" with as many as 28 (similar to the number of pages in a children's picture book).
- Cut out random shapes and "good parts" from failed paintings and drawings. Arrange them into a collage, and then fill out the empty spaces with new and improved drawings. No such thing as a "mistake," right?