Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Most frequently asked question?

So many times I have heard creative people asked "Where do you get your ideas?" as if the idea is the most important element of making a work.  Ideas are important, of course; necessary, but not sufficient.  I suspect that the choices the artist makes in executing the idea outrank the latter in importance.
I have just been making choices in relation to a recent design: Siren song of solitude, a stage of which I posted the other day.
I started with feelings about place and solitude and how they related to what is at present going on in my emotions generally.  I never seem to need to reproduce the visual stimulus but instead to try to create a kind of narrative.  This time music seemed to be part of the idea - and I started with what has become a lino plate:
That was put to one side because of my tennis-watching activities, but my mind had not completed its work.  Hence the idea for Siren song.  It was really a continuation, and perhaps a refinement of the first idea.  But it did not start cleanly as shown above.
First I drew the saxophone player, and chose the piece of pastel work which would be the background - but I also wanted to include an outline of a building.  And then I thought about including maps of the areas which had especially moved me.
I often go through a phase like this, of adding stuff which I relatively quickly take away.  I sometimes think that I add simply to go through a process of editing out.  This took me to the stage I was happy to put up on the blog.
But the purpose of my design was to make work to which stitch is added.  In this case the edgy crop does not work.  So, another choice had to be made - and those essential skills of twiddling and fiddling came into play.  (And the wonder of technology saves every version!)
Titles are important to me, and most often are part of the narrative.  Time passing is now playing a part in the my design choices.  Sutherland is retreating further into my memory, and the realities of everyday life are crowding out seekings after solitude.  The sirens tempted sailors, just as solitude tempts me.  I am now looking back at an emotional loss - a kind of solitude blues.
The now revised version will not necessarily be any good when/if stitched.  I will possibly go back to a previous version and make it a print without stitching.  Indeed neither the idea nor the choices may work at all.  The great thing about working on the computer is that only time has been spent - nothing (yet) for the landfill site.


  1. The most frequently asked question of tapestry weavers is "How long did it take?" Sigh...
    Interesting to see the stages of your design and that gable end just screams Scotland!

  2. Interesting to follow your 'thinking - feeling' process and how well you are able to verbalize it. I am struck by the semi-abstract design on the lino plate, so different from the other examples though lovely.

  3. Ian ? Meabh - oh yes, I can quite imagine it!
    And yes, one of the aspects of Britain I really enjoy is the vernacular architecture - where it can still be found. I have always missed those gable ends though.

    Marja-Leena, thank you. I'm always struck by how abstract printing plates can look, especially relief ones. Next week is a break from tennis before Wimbledon starts, and I hope to print the plate then. We'll see how it looks.