Friday, April 8, 2016

Chasing an Idea

The Peppermint Tree was one of my favorites from the 100 Trees project. Partly it's the shocking red contrasting with green and white. I got to a point about 2/3 of the way through the project that if I had extra ink or paint out I would just use it up as a background for the next painting. That's how this one got such a rich red background. I loved doing that because it would send me in an unexpected direction the next day when thinking of an image- I wasn't starting with a blank page, I was starting with a color. The color would sometimes lead me in a predictable direction (like adding stars to a dark page) but sometimes free association would take me somewhere fun and different! This red made me think of peppermint candies and the added green made it look extra Christmassy.

So, no surprise that I wanted to turn it into a Christmas card. But I wanted to use a traditional pine tree instead of a leafy green tree. 

I loved the final Christmas card, but I missed the round green tree with spiky leaves. So I used it and a similar color scheme to do a birthday card. Both of the 2 final cards are much cleaner and tidier that the original Peppermint tree and I kind of miss that messy rich color. But I'm happy with the final versions and it's fun to see all of them together.

Developing an idea takes lots of tries usually. Most often the trial and error happens in the sketch stage. But sometimes you make it all the way to a finished image and realize you have to redo it because you know how to make it better. One of the big things I learned from doing the daily sketchbook project is that it's really fun to let instinct and inspiration lead you without editing yourself too much. And then you can redo the image later if it has qualities that you like. It's more like a writing process than my usual art-making process. When writing, I have to just get it on the page. Don't edit, don't make it perfect. Chase the idea around and think it through with pencil moving on the paper. THEN in the next drafts I edit. 

I think an important part of working this way is sharing the sketchbook art publicly. That forced me to actually finish the image instead of taking it part way in my sketchbook and then abandoning it to start the final art. I still had fun and learned unexpected things about each piece I did all the way until the very end. Some of the tree images I made wound up containing so many seeds of ideas that they are sprouting more than one finished piece. 

The snow is melting around us here in Colorado, the grass and flower shoots and coming up and the trees are starting to bud. It's my favorite time of year! May spring bring you lots of beautiful ideas!

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