Stretching Muscle

watercolor, 15 x 11 inches
When we don’t exercise, muscles atrophy. Not good. Exercise is important.

There are times in the studio when one needs to exercise the creative muscle, if, for nothing else, to regain it’s strength . . . . . and to experience something new . . . even if it doesn’t come out right.

Early yesterday morning, I was busy working on a lesson for a class. This idea came to mind as a way to break open barriers to doing something new and different. My classes are encouraged to CREATE. And I attempt to give the participants access to some possible paths they might employ to start the creative thought process. Those hints lie in the seven elements of design, Line, Size, Shape, Direction, Color, Value and Texture.

In this exercise, I took each of the elements and asked myself “What could I do with______? (Insert one or more elements). First, I decided on a dominance which had to pervade the picture space . . . .that, of course, sets up the environment for contrasts and harmonies. Here I chose a yellow green dominance (color) with violet contrasts. Also, I sought an angular dominance (line and shape). By subdividing the shapes into angular ‘shards’ (shape) I created a repetition which set texture dominance. You can also see a diagonal dark crossing the vertical composition which adds other contrasts (value, color and direction).

Some wonder about the disappearance of ‘spontaneity’ in this kind design planning. All the above paragraph does is set a framework under which the artist can explore different design choices. By doing so, the artist assures a degree of success while stretching the imagination. The outcome is that the artist can see more easily the results of interrelationships of the elements. It is in that stretching, exploration and acquiring new experience that can contribute a spontaneous insertion of *knowledge* into future works. All paintings cannot be masterpieces, but they can certainly be part of the cumulative experience which leads to anticipating outcomes and, thus, mastery

5 thoughts on “Stretching Muscle”

  1. This one knocks my socks off! Your approach makes sense to me — deciding upfront how you will employ the design elements. I should think such thought would help with focus and unity. I was particularly interested in how you worked the shapes as that is a question I’m wrestling with in my own work.

  2. You think absolutely correctly, Peggy. As for working with shapes, you keep doing what you are doing . . . the work you are doing really is extraordinary!

  3. Hay Mike, as one of your students I have to complain. You stole my value study and the next idea I had for line work. I must admit I hadn’t gone all the way to the “shards”. I’m blown away. I don’t know if you meant it but this is the first painting I’ve ever seen that feels brittle. I love it.

  4. STOLE? ‘Scuze mee?? I know you are kidding,Larry . . . I am dying to see your paintings and sketches tonite. It’s always fun to see what you come up with.

    This little painting was to illustrate a few ideas to a lot of painters who are studying with me right now. The idea of breaking up an object into other sub-shapes is one of them.

    Brittle? Hmmmmm. Now you have me thinking.

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