A week ago my Advanced Design class gathered and shared their experiences based on the general research and homework assignment outcomes. A clear realization emerged as each person openly presented their individual material. Each person had fully embraced the challenges presented and were clearly making great progress in designing for future work.
The pictures I made and subsequently accidentally erased could not have told the story that follows. Thank you to Wendy Parsons of Parsons-Dietrich Pottery in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. for sharing her insights and process as a guest blogger today.
Up Against it by Wendy Parsons
I know I am not the only one to suffer an artist’s block. But it took me by surprise. For a year I have had eight clay life size sculptural heads sitting in my studio half finished. I just could not figure out how I was going to complete and present them. And so they sat. I turned to my usual books for inspiration. I talked to fellow artists and still I was stuck.
A solution came from an unexpected source. I have been taking Anna’s advanced design class for my production pottery work. (And by the way it has been fantastic for that area of my practice too.) But it was this class that presented the breakthrough in my sculptural pieces.
In the class we were to choose an artist or architect whose work we admired and use him/her as our primary source as we worked through the home work assignments. What things excited us about our inspirational source? Was it the color, the use of symbolism, the strong organic lines? Each home work assignment built upon the last one as we moved through the process. Homing in on small areas of our artists work we created triskeles, color studies, and drawings. What similarities did we notice about the areas that attracted us? Why?
My architect of choice was Antoni Gaudi. But after working with him for awhile I decided to include three more artists to explore. Why was I attracted to them? What was speaking to me about their work? They seemed so diverse how was this exploration ever going to get me where I wanted to go? I followed Anna’s exercises with each artist and then drew a circle in the center of a large sheet of paper. In that circle I put my name. I made four more circles around my central one. Within each of the circles I put the name of one of the four artists. Then I added spokes from the artist circles and wrote in words on each spoke that described what excited me about that artist while keeping the portraits in mind. Then I drew spokes from my central circle to the words that I felt really represented me and my portrait work. Voila, a list of key words describing my aspirations in my sculptures. From one artist I got the colors I wanted use, from another I got the lines I had in mind, from another I got the mood and from the fourth I got the texture.
This was a great way for me to figure out exactly who I am as an artist and where I wanted to take the portraits. I am so excited that I am going full tilt and should soon have the pieces ready to go. But even more exciting for me is that I now have a means of moving through blocks. I like to keep working and not just sit there waiting for inspiration. Now I can. Thanks Anna!
Thank you, Wendy for sharing your personal approach of mind mapping to work through a creative block.
I find Wendy’s process to move through creative block very interesting. I often find my work flows easily either when I give myself freedom to just play with a technique without worrying too much about the outcome or when I have a clear concept behind the piece I’m developing. The structured conceptualizing approach Wendy has described is definitely something I will adopt and perhaps try to further adapt to include technique approaches too so I have a more complete mental framework for the piece before I start. I think this could really help reduce the amount of time I find I have to let a piece sit around while I ruminate on it. Thanks to both you and Wendy for sharing this.
This is a fascinating article on overcoming blocks to creativity and I am grateful that you Wendy,chose to describe and share your process so well, and that you Anna chose to convey it to us.in your Blog Post. It is a perfect illustration of the importance of starting something, anything with pen in hand – in this case drawing circles – as the stimulus to the brain and thence to the imagination.Thank you very much! Now to get my pen in hand……
Thanks for the feedback, Judith. I was humbled when Wendy shared her journey in class. She graciously agreed to write a blog post – I am glad it resonates with you.