Thursday, October 09, 2008

Design Board: New Ways to Look at Art and the World

(Click on image to enlarge. My studio space at the MacNamara Foundation.)
When first arriving at the MacNamara Foundation, each artist was assisted in setting up his or her "studio" space. Every need was met....even ones not yet anticipated! It was amazing. I felt unworthy and nervous with a staff just vying to bring electrical needs, lighting equipment, and just about any supply on hand. It seemed "too much". It was too much, overwhelming. I was asked if I "needed" a design board.

Needed? As a parent, I spent too many days explaining the difference between a "need" and a "want". There was nothing I needed! I'd been granted six weeks in which to create a paradise location. How could I need anything else? Well, the photographer and painter got these boards....and lights for them...and have been pinning up their work ever since...sharing their creations...standing back to consider changes. I've been shoving my work into the large (extremely nice!) drawer.

Well, today I got two large panels....a design wall! I pinned up everything except Crazy Blues. I've never worked in this manner. I've never had the luxury. Of course, now all my embroidery looks rather poor in comparison to the surroundings. This feeling has haunted me often. My work seems unsophisticated and lacking. Maybe it is. Generally, time goes by and I look again and think, "It's not that bad!"

Well, just as an experiment. I'm going to force myself to LOOK at my work...every day...until the end of the month when this paradise comes to an end. Maybe I'll improve? Maybe I'll learn to be satisfied? I really don't know. I'd love to hear from those who use design boards. How has it affected your work?

It has been very interesting being around the other artists here. The photographer, Lisa Robinson, is quite accomplished and working with large format images, digital scans of the big negatives, and creating a series of cynotypes from many of the natural wonders here on Westport Island (like a dead bird, a dead snake, the bones of a mouse, all sorts of feathers, a dead frog, various plant pods, grasses, the skeletal autumn leaves...we've all been collecting things for her!). Lisa has just had a book published called Snowbound. It is glorious, a new way of looking at the world.

Well educated and quite fluent in what I'll call "art ease", Lisa can describe her work, her thoughts, and her vision in most amazingly brilliant ways. She's currently working to capture the etheral essence of fog. Through her eyes I've been made aware of climate, atmosphere and the need to express not only physical artwork but the proper words to describe it. I have so much to learn. Fortunately, there's lots of "teachers" here in the form of professional, working artists. With my new design board, they'll likely be more, interesting conversations.

Above and below are two images I took as a result of Lisa Robinson's inspiration. The fog truly is mysterious and beautiful. Ordinarily, these days were ones in which I'd have left the camera at home!


Aussie Jo said...

Everyone works and expresses themselves in different ways. Your work is uniquely yours and wonderful.
I find that when I'm thinking about a new design I use words jotted down to capture the essence of what I want to design, rather than sketching first.
My design board is the side of a filing cabinet and magnets. I stick pieces up so I can look at them. As my sewing nook is in the family room, everyone else who comes through comments as well, family, friends, my children's friends, I get plenty of feedback.

Aussie Jo said...

P.S. I love that first photo - ethereal. By the way, my best friend is my thesaurus.

Nellie's Needles said...

Isn't it grand that our creative journeys are continuous learning experiences? I very much like the idea of writing out descriptive words BEFORE embarking on a piece.

I couldn't work without a design wall. There is so much that can be seen or missed when looking at a piece. While working I like to see my pieces in the orientation that it will be viewed. It can studied from multiple distances when it's on the design wall. I even use the wrong end of binoculars to get a long distance view. This trick also helps in evaluating the values within the piece by taking the emphasis off the hues.

You certainly must have had some surprises when your work was viewed hung for the shows ... pleasant ones, of course. I can't wait to come to S. Carolina in January to see that one as well as to see your studio.

Unknown said...

I really love those photographs. the second one really speaks to me, calm misty mornings on the water. I like the halo effect. It is so grand that your getting so much during this time as well as giving your own view as an artist! My 'design' wall is the wall in the house office, it is marred with the many pin holes from push pins as I put up works to look at and contemplate where they will go. I find that I need to really look at something to see it as it actually is, flaws and all for several days before I go too far!

arlee said...

Seeing your design wall was a pleasant surprise---now i can get a sense of scale with those works! I had no idea that the Decisions series pieces were so large!

Emmy said...

great work and as Arlee I have now idea howe large the pictures are good to see the design wall .
something one the floor got my attention .


Interesting, your sister Wanda just posted two photos on her blog that feature fog...must be that time of year!

liz said...

Hey Susan, I was at Alexandra Palace again today and I thought about seeing you there last year.
I'm always going on about that whole need/want thing as well, but I think in your case you are allowed to qualify it with "in order to.... I need ...."

Wanda said...

Your photos are incredible. I only wish I could capture half of what you do! I understand how you feel when you look at your work sometimes and I'm so glad you have a design board. I love the fact that you will look at your creations every day. And I always thought that art is not good or just is. Sort of like feelings. Remember that ball-on-a-stick thing we saw last year in London? Someone loved it...not necessarily us but someone did. I wish I could give you a shot of self esteem but then again, I think that is part of your find it yourself. I don't know why the Lenz girls seem to lack that in parts of our lives. That is what we need to work on and learn. And you are right on schedule Susan.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing I can say because I can't see through my tears. I am crying because you and all your "commentors" add so much to my life. Thanks to you all. Mom