Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Creative Process

I thought I'd share a little bit about my creative process. I often sketch my ideas well in advance of committing them to clay or whatever. This is how I think out my ideas. Sketching is a way for me to capture an initial concept and to develop it further.

Here is a recent example. I sketched this idea while on a plane flying back from Florida a couple of weeks ago. I made it into clay about a week later, then glazed and fired it. 

Here is another example, a series of beads based on "Camping" concepts that I sketched over a year ago. I published these and other ideas on my team blog Art Jewelry Elements in a post called "Summer Days Winding Down to Fall":

Here are some of the beads that came out of these sketches:

Oh wait... what's missing? The tent bead! I did not create it in clay because, by sheer chance, Kylie Parry made one recently that was very similar to my drawing. I contacted her and told her I would not make mine because it would be timed too closely to hers. I basically wanted to let her know that I knew this was simply a coincidence and to go ahead with her own idea of a "tent".

Here is Kylie's tent bead - I love her execution of the idea. For mine, I had planned to do a more khaki color scheme. I like her use of copper patina green with accents of aqua. I think she nailed it! For more of her work, go to Kylie Parry Studios.

Other concepts I sketched out quite a while ago and finally got to make... I posted these on Art Jewelry Elements back in December 2013, "2013 Explorations - The Adventure Continues":

As you can see, I still have other ideas in those sketches to complete...

But instead I felt compelled to turn to some even older ideas...
We sometimes find Turkey feathers around our cabin, like this one:

I made a study of them years ago, inspired by teachings I was privileged to partake of by a Hopi grandmother (her name is Jeremie and she lives in Kentucky, having been asked to go there by her elders to set up teaching circles in what they believe was a previous migration area - the nearby Serpent Mound is an ancient marker of that migration).

Here are some examples of feathers used for sacred purposes (out of respect, I won't go into the exact nature/meaning of these). These two are Angwusnasomtaka (Crow Mother) and Tawa (Sun Spirit).

I sketched feather concepts a few years ago while still in Kentucky, and posted them on my personal "Journey" blog PostReason: "Hemlock Shore".

At the time I had been using a air gun spraying technique for pottery that allowed me to overlap several glazes in a gradient style. I wanted to use a similar technique for the feathers but had not really worked that out until recently...

This is my first run of the feathers in an "ombre" glaze. These reflect the very first sketches I made in the upper left of the above drawing. I had originally thought to airbrush the glazes, but I found that a much simpler dry brush method worked quite well.

I next evolved this concept closer to the "Feather Shield" idea from my sketches...

Another recent concept from sketch to clay, "The Maker":

Another concept I have been playing with; some of these were inspired by a collaboration with Rebekah Payne using her "Speckled Beads" for a Component of the Month challenge last year on Art JewelryElements...

Here is Rebekah's bead:

Here is the design I made with both our beads...

And other beads I have since made; I am continuing to evolve this form...

So, as should be apparent by now, sketching is an integral part of my design process. I use a variety of media. from colored pencil, ink and acrylic wash, to, more recently, my iPad with a stylus. In the latter case I usually use Paper by 53, or Bamboo Paper. I showed a few of those sketches here.

What's next on my table? I have several sketches I've worked up but never executed. I typically have dozens more ideas in sketches than I am ever able to make into clay or other works. I was once advised never to publish my sketches on an internet site lest the ideas they portray be stolen. This goes entirely against method of working, however. My sketch books - which go way back in years - are critical to my creative process and are every bit as much a part of my body of work as the executed forms that may follow. Moreover, I was taught by years of experience and by corporate edict (by IP attorneys at companies I used to design for) that sketches and notes are considered established basis for ownership of my ideas for the purpose of defending my copyrights and patents. So it was a habit I formed early on. But really that is not the main reason I maintain a sketchbook - I do it as an integral part of my creative process. If you don't already have a practice like this, I invite you to try it out - you will be amazed at what it does for your own creative flow.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Woodland Totems

Hi everyone, I'm getting ready for a shop update in a few days. The theme of this upcoming update is Woodland Totems. I'm excited to bring these beads to you all...

Here's a sneak preview: