Convoluted combinations and creative decision-making

Have you ever gotten part-way with a piece, loved it so far, but were afraid to continue for fear of messing it up? Every artist has probably been there. I sure was this week when I worked on this earthenware “shard woman.”

Here she is before being fired – “leather-hard” clay:

After I fired her, I decided that a patina finish would look good, particularly since she has a fish design that seemed rather ancient Asian-y. I added coral and trade beads and sinew.

So far, so good. I loved the coral beads and the way the finish look both like earthenware and old metal. Then I got stuck. The proportions seemed off. Should she go on a piece of wood? Get sewn to a canvas? I tried those and they weren’t right. Argh!!

So I went to a file of photos that I keep on my desktop called “Do This Now.” It’s not a real to-do list, but rather a collection of art I like that help to un-stick me because of the way the artist solved problems in painting, construction, whatever. Here’s what part of that file looks like – no rhyme or reason to the names or selections.

I got a new idea from two of the images, one of an anonymous talisman and one by Shannon Weber:

Shannon Weber: Burnt Offerings (one of my favorite art pieces ever)

They somehow worked together to help me figure out what to do with my own earthenware piece. When this kind of process happens, you don’t copy ideas, you sort of synthesize them into your own solution.

So this is how the piece turned out. It’s finished now (I think!), and it has some nice inspiration found in both the anonymous talisman piece and Shannon’s assemblage. Can you see the influence?  But it’s still my very own creation.

Lyn Belisle
Woman Shard: Patina

In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon writes, “Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.”

I would agree, and would encourage anyone to start a random collection of photos of work that is NOT categorized (because labels just limit you). Save a photo because you like it, and because you never know when you might need someone else’s nudge to help you get unstuck.

9 thoughts on “Convoluted combinations and creative decision-making

  1. Wow, made a huge difference in my opinion, the additions added a balance drawing my eye down and seeing all the beauty together. Great idea to have that collection of go to photos for new possiblities. Thanks for sharing Lyn.

  2. Love the piece & post. Wish I could open your inspiration pages. I keep lots on Pinterest but am always searching for more.

  3. This turned out Fabulously!! I really love it, butttt, I just can’t wrap my mind around the red piece hanging, don’t particularly know why, just don’t like it, lol…Other wise, its gorgeous!!

    • It’s actually not that bright. It’s rough piece of coral that really picked up the light and grabbed the pigment. But, like you, I’m not a “red” person.

  4. Lyn it was good to read your comments on collecting ideas to synthesize into one’s own work. I hesitate sometimes as I don’t want to merely copy another artist, so I enjoyed your words.
    You are one of those I go to for inspiration during those stuck periods. I love all your work.

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