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20. How will "Planning" change my art process?

Updated: Apr 2

This month has been such a good one! 

  • Docs at Iowa Hospitals reviewed a new MRI and I’m good to go! Brain surgery success, double vision gone, full freedom!

  • On the art front, I released my Chunky Monkey series of 25 small collages and I’m excited to take them to art shows. They’re fun in person, when you can hold them in your hand and feel their “chunkiness.” Little rascals.

  • This month I also moved back into bigger canvas painting so that’s what I’ll report on as the “technique” that I tried.

Past: In January, I took a 6-week online class on visual composition with Sally Hirst. I learned a lot and applied that knowledge in small spaces (think 5x5” Monkeys).

Technique Question: Could I scale UP to larger pieces, still putting compositional principles to use?

With that in mind, I did some planning (something I almost never do). Before I tore into a 16x40” canvas, I wanted to have sketched out and decided how to use the space. I sat with a cup of coffee, my art journal, and the cat lying across my lap (so helpful, Thomas). In my class, Sally Hirst had asked us to make thumbnail sketches so I started with that. I made some shapes, moved them around, played with their sizes, and then started crossing my composition idea with value considerations. Next I went to my gelli papers to gather what I had to use. Finally, I mixed up three shades of paint in little jars so that they’d be “at the ready” for multiple canvases. 

I tell all of this to make ONE point: This.Is.Not.Me. Planning the composition? prepping papers? pre-mixing paints? Whaaaaaaat?

But my question to myself had been, basically, can you put your new knowledge to use? Can you plan a composition and design rather than create randomly like a whirling dervish?

Answer: Yes, I can. Now I’ve done a series of 5 larger canvases, all playing with similar shapes and the same color palette. Along the way, I’ve allowed a few changes and spontaneous mark-making but, overall, I’ve proven to myself that I can make an art plan and follow it through. 

As a series, I really like how they’ve turned out. They’re far different from what I was doing a year ago, but I am far different from a year ago. I’ve lived with double vision and longed for visual simplicity– and I think that change shows. 

Also, during migraine auras, I realized how “the space between objects” relates to connectedness. (And that feels true with people too. How sometimes we can be so far apart that our connectedness is stretched to the point of nearly breaking, and yet somehow we share space and still relate to one another. Fascinating.)

Future: I’m not sure that I’ll always do this full planning process because I did lose intuitive movement– and I missed it. But I imagine that some recipe of compositional and design planning can lead to the relaxed activity of “going in and just seeing what happens.” So that’s what I’d like to try next. Planning with space to Play.

Art Outings for 2024:

  • April: 

  • 4.27: Albia Restoration Days Art Show on Courthouse Lawn

  • May: 

  • 5.11: Ankeny Artfest 

  • 5.18: Ted Lare Garden Show 

  • June/July: Urbandale Public Library gallery

  • 6.23: Artist Reception

  • July: 

  • 7.6-7: Klingfest in Bob Kling’s Garden, 901 N. Buxton, Indianola

  • 7.27-28: Indianola Art Festival in Buxton Park

  • September: 

  • 9.29: Octagon Art Festival 

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