Sunday, July 13, 2008

How I Do It/ It's A Secret

After getting a couple of comments about the organization going into this piece and I realized that now would be a good time to look at how I approach my more elaborate projects.
I also just read Robin Atkins "One Bead At A Time" and was inspired to share what I do to create art.

I start all of my larger projects with a sketch book. How I start there depends on how I am coming at the project. Sometimes I have a theme in mind; a season, trees, ponds, crystals or purse and I just start sketching ideas. This stage can take hours to weeks depending on how quickly a sketch grabs my attention and says "work with me." I will often refine my idea with more sketches until I have a good idea where I want to go. I go by what feels right and although I know all that goes into "good" art I tend to work intuitively, if it feels right I am less likely to have problems later.

An important consideration for me is that I don't design with the idea of how I am going to accomplish something. I start with the idea that I like and figure out how once I have a good idea where I am going. For me I really enjoy figuring out how to accomplish the idea. I have learned new beading techniques, tried new supplies and made myself stretch creatively this way.

At this point I gather supplies, again I go a lot by what feels right for the mood, season or whatever I am trying to convey. I tend to collect supplies so quite often I already have something that will work, occasionally I will need something more (mmmm more supplies, yeah!). Quite often I will not be sure how I am going to execute my idea so I may end up with supplies I don't use and have to get others later.

For a project this big I work full scale for finishing the design. It helps me to see where I want to go. I do not consider a design finished until the piece is finished and the whole process is fluid, ideas come and go. Some ideas get used others go on to the back burner for some future project.

I am a detail loving person (probably the reason I love working with 15/0 seed beads). I tend to take detail photos of nature and like to draw/paint things like lichen, and other small things. I don't work improvisationally. I almost always have a plan of some sort, I have not found that this limits my creativity because I tend to work very intuitively so that I go with what I feel like doing as I work on a piece letting the piece evolve as I go. Of course after reading Robin's book I am tempted to try something completely without a plan, pick a fabric some beads and just go. I have a feeling for me this would be very challenging, way outside my comfort zone.


As I was playing with the idea of my tree and I knew I was going to use my animal totems and animals that have personal meaning to me I decided to re-read the information that I had on them. I have Ted Andrews "Animal Speak" and have found it really useful source. One of things I noticed in reading about the animals again is that a number of the animals that I am including are guides or guardians to the other side (spirit realm, fairy realm however you want to look at it). One morning after this while I was out walking I realized that what the piece needed was a doorway to the other side. I am still working on the idea of how I want to have through my secret doorway. At the moment I am leaning toward mirror tiles that would have beaded bezels. When you opened the door you would see yourself in a mosaic of mirrors. The other side is in essence already inside of us. I would love to hear any other ideas people have.

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Brenda said...

I seem to be reading backwards, your last post first and so on. Love the idea of the doorway and then seeing yourself on the other side.
That Ted Andrew's book is the bomb, mine is so worn. I'll have to go look up the animals it looks like you are using.
I read Robin's book just a few weeks ago, I have a hard time working improvisationally. Mainly because every bead I put down I feel it should have a meaning/story behind it. It sounds like you feel that same way.

Angela said...

Brenda, I normally don't put meaning into each bead that I attach although you wouldn't know it from this project which is going to have so much symbolism and personal meaning that it isn't funny. I do work somewhat intuitively but with a plan. Partially the plan is because I enjoy working with figurative work so the planning helps me create a semi- realistic look for my plants etc.

My book by Ted Andrew's is still pretty new and I haven't even had the chance to read that much of it. I have several books about trees and the myths and beliefs about them and have some symbolism books coming that I have tons of reading to do when I want.


Robin said...

OMG!!!!!!! You have hit on something so important... a doorway into the inner world right there within the outer world you are portraying. I have goosebumps thinking about this, and the mirrors too. One day a year or so ago, I had the notion that the inner world IS the outer world IS the inner world IS all one world. I thought at the time that I wanted to explore that thought in a piece of bead embroidery, but still haven't done it. Sounds like you may be taking that journey.

Yes, I can see in your work that you plan, yet leave some space for intuitive creation throughout the process. I think Brenda does too. I'd love to see both you and Brenda take ONE month's BJP and devote it to total improv.

Also, I'd like to suggest a fabulous book... It's "Improv Wisdom" by Patricia Ryan Masden.

What I notice with your 08 BJP is that you're planning the framework of it, yet leaving the individual month's beaded pages open at this time. This is a wonderful approach!

Hugs, Robin A.

Angela said...


Each of the blocks for the months will be painted with the landscape imagery and whatever animal (etc) that they are going to have and then they will be beaded. I don't think a total improve block would work unless I just painted the landscape part on and then let the rest of the imagery come from the beading.

That said I am thinking of making an improv piece that is separate from the BJP. I am thinking of doing a "portrait" of Wayne like you mentioned in your book. I am thinking of making it as a box. We will see, can only do so many things at one time and so when I feel I am ready I will start it.