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How to Develop Ideas and Art from Observations

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

My Hand-painted Lamp

I had this ugly, plain boring lampshade and I just painted what I call, “Abundance Circles,” onto it.

BEFORE
Scrapbook Albums and Pages

How to Get Ideas: Observe and Experiment

The idea came from this doodling on a receipt in my car…

Doodles that led to Abundance Trees

Doodling the random things that catch your eye can lead you to lots of different ideas later — especially if you keep your doodles together some place. I keep mine in my scrap journal and my sketch book.

The doodle started when I was pulling out of a parking space, and an unusual pedestrian path caught my eye. I grabbed a receipt and sketched it on the far left, and then I had a spontaneous desire to add the circles and make it a tree. I was feeling whimsical.

I liked the tree top, but not the trunk, so I tried again on the right side of the receipt. And you can see that two days later I tried again a third time and was really happy with the results. I made a note that the tree top felt like abundance to me. Later when I flipped through my book and saw it, I added a note saying I was calling my tree an Abundance Tree.

Refining Your Doodles

Abundance Tree

Later I sat down with a Copic Multi-Liner and tried making a tree that I could actually use for scrapbooking and mixed-media art. In the process I devised a trunk I really loved, though my tree ended up looking more like a mushroom. I made a mental note that the circles were too tight and tried again, this time adding color with my Copic Sketches…

Abundance Tree

Here’s another example of where doodling has led me to an eventual hand-made embellishment for scrapbooking…

Grocery List Doodle: Happy Mushroom Colony…
Grocery Lists (Doodling Included).

Refining the Happy Mushroom Colony in my Scrap Journal…
Doodling with Copics in my Scrap Journal

Making a Happy Mushroom Colony as a Scrapbook Embellishment…
Happy Mushroom Colony

I’m sure I will eventually use my abundance tree in a scrapbook or mixed-media project, and I’m already making more.

Translating Your Ideas into Different Mediums and Styles

The key is asking yourself the question in the first place — “How can I translate this piece of inspiration into something else?”

I’ve been asking myself how I could translate my Abundance Trees into a painting project. Because I had the question in my head, I got the answer when I saw this dress on Elsie Flannigan. I saved the dress to my Art Inspiration board on Pinterest and decided I would use it as inspiration to dress up my boring lamp shade. I practiced first in my art journal…

Abundance - Art Journal

I didn’t try to copy the pattern on Elsie’s dress. I took one more look at it before pulling out my paints, and then closed the picture. There are two reasons I rarely try to copy directly when doing artistic projects…

  1. You set yourself up for frustration and negative self-talk because it’s very difficult to copy something just right. In fact, sometimes your own project actually needs you to do it a little differently and it’s hard to see that need if you’re copying. I think of my sources as inspiration, rather than a source to copy exactly.
  2. If you study the inspiration piece beforehand, and then put it away when you’re actually going to work on your project, you free yourself to make the piece your own.

This is how I use inspiration for my scrapbooking as well. I almost never scraplift, but I sometimes do think back to a layout I liked recently and I recall the overall idea of why I liked it. If you do that, you benefit from the inspiration of others, but you’ll make projects that are completely your own.

My Hand-painted Lamp

So now, from noticing a pedestrian walk and and doodling it into my scrap journal, I’ve developed some art I can use for scrapbooking, for mixed-media projects, and for painting projects as well. It’s amazing how it all flows for you when you pay attention to your environment, act on your observations and idea bursts, experiment with them, develop them, and ask yourself how-questions.

Multiple Art Journals for Multiple Purposes

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Art Journals

I user a broader definition of “art Journal” than what is trending right now. Most people these days use art journals for artful experimentation and play, which will then be the foundation for written journaling. I do so much writing and journaling into my photos, into my scrap journal, on my blogs, in my fiction, and onto my scrapbook pages, that I don’t have any interest in adding it into my art journals.

Plus, as a writer, I naturally look at it for a different purpose. Many fiction writers keep writing journals, where we’re just practicing or warming up, and if we’re lucky, you might find a jewel there to embellish into a short story or novel. But mainly, we use writing journals for practice actual fiction. So it’s more natural for me to think of my art journals this way — a warm-up place for my art.

And I’m still trying to discover who I am as an artist. Mixed media? Collage? Copics Markers? Paint? So far it’s all of the above, but pure paint continues to stir up more passion in me than the others. I’m also still trying to find my colors, and I have yet to really commit to larger focal images and that I create myself. I have very few completed pages. I guess I’m still working on that fear thing.

Different Sizes

While my smallest book has the nicest, sturdiest cover, which I really like, I can’t stand it’s size. It’s too small. If you haven’t bought yourself a journal yet and are planning on it — don’t go for small. It’s very limiting and there is a lot I want to do that won’t fit in that tiny book. Fortunately I have the two larger books you see on the bottom.

If I can fit what I want to do it the small book, I’ll use it. Otherwise, I really love the big ones, even if they don’t have nice sturdy covers.

So far none of the art you see here are finished except the tree in the book on the right-hand corner.

Different types of books

Speaking of the book in the right-hand corner, I originally turned that old unwanted novel into a journal — a place for me to write a few thoughts and to add a scrap or two from the day. A receipt. A thank-card. A napkin with some quick notes I jotted down.

That’s why I call it my scrap journal. Then I found myself brainstorming in it. Brainstorming began my image-making, because who brainstorms with words only? I liked the aesthetics of the images on top of the text. I liked using my book to just doodle, too. I’ve found that the doodling generates new inspiration.

And then I bought my Copic Markers and I found that I love the copics on top of the text and manila colored pages. So now my scrap journal is also an art journal. It’s my everything book. But it’s still not the typical current popular type where you art a page up and then journal on top of it. I have pages with only journaling. I have pages with scraps or brainstorming. I have pages with sketches and copic color. I just do whatever it is I need to do in this book.

It’s not about making the book pretty, although there are some pretty things in it.

Sketch Books

I also keep two sketch books. One is 14×17 with thin pages — great for practicing drawing larger images, and suitable only for pencils. I also have a one that is 12×9. It’s easier to carry around with me and its pages are a thick material so I can use my Copics in it, as well.

I have a few playful experiments I’m excited to share — hopefully next week. But what about you? I’m curious to know how much of the Paperclipping audience does art journaling, is interested in art journaling, or has no interest at all?

Doodle to Generate New Ideas

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Doodling with Copics in my Scrap Journal

I’m just playing here, but these ideas are germinating into something.

Play = New Ideas.

I’ve learned from this to keep my Copic-play on the right side of the book only, and to space these colored doodles out by a page. The blue and grey from the previous page bled all over my little mushroom colony.

But sometimes those mistakes lead to interesting discoveries. I had doodled this butterfly with a regular ink pen. When I colored it in weeks later, some interesting texture showed through.

Coloring into my Doodles

Do you see it? Compare the black texturing in the wings of the main butterfly with the lack of it on the smaller ones on the left.

Where did it come from? This little owl is showing through into the ink on the butterfly. The poor owl got colored in the wrongest way from behind. But now I know that if I want some interesting texture mixed into my Copic markings, I can draw something on the back side.

Poor Owl got Colored from Behind