Sunday, March 8, 2009

Making Art

Recently, I was asked about my design process on one of the forums I post to. And I thought I would share my thoughts with you also.A fellow wire artist recently commented that my work seems spontaneous and uninhibited, and that is completely accurate. I am self taught and was well into creating pieces and developing my voice as an artist before I discovered other people were doing this too. It was like magic the first time I found out that this had a name and that there were pictures of other people's work online. I am glad that I didn't start out learning from anyone because I think it would have influenced my unique style. Learning techniques now is such a good thing, because I can work those skills into my pieces my way, and have a gradual evolution in my work and natural growth, instead of an abrupt change. I never want it to seem like, "Oooo! Look at the new skill I learned." I try to add elements in when they will seem most appropriate, and then experiment with them as I go.
My process is highly intuitive. I don't plan my pieces ahead of time. That is a process that is impossible for me. I can't even pick out materials until the very moment I am going to start making something. Choosing the cabochon or focal bead is an often time consuming for me. It's sort of a "feeling" type thing. I have a very large collection to choose from and may go through several boxes before I pick the "right" stone or piece of glass. I have learned to trust my intuition and not force my will on something. Sometimes I'll get so hung up on wanting to use something right away. I'll use it and try to make it work, but I find the work ends up being uninspired and uninteresting. I usually end up cutting the piece up and putting the stone back in the box. I have learned to trust my intuition from the start. It usually is the deciding factor in whether or not the creation of a new piece is going to go well.
After I have chosen the stone, I choose the wire. Most of the time I am completely open to using anything, any color, "artistic" or precious metal, one color or three colors, two wires or five.... I just start holding the wire up to the stone, looking at different combinations, etc. One option will usually win over the others because it will either spawn another idea about either additional materials, like crystal or beads. Or, I will decide on some design element that I might try to work into the piece if the design ends up allowing for it.
Once I have the wire selected, I just start making the piece. This either starts with binding the wires to make some sort of cage, or threading it through the hole of a focal bead. I never see beyond the step I am on until that step is completed. By that, I mean every loop, each bend of the wire, every movement of my fingers or a tool. I make a deliberate choice or decision each step of the way. Even when I have maybe four more decisions to make, I have no idea how the piece will actually end. I don't visualize any of it. When I finish a piece, it's exciting for me. Usually I am amazed at what it looks like, because I couldn't have imagined anything like that. And then I am thrilled that I like the piece. Because I know, if I really like it, someone else out there will too.
Another aspect of the process is that I spend a lot of time fueling and feeding my right brain. I look at all kinds of things all over the internet, most of which are not jewelry. I will admit to spending ridiculous amounts of time looking at gemstones, but that doesn't influence my work to the degree that other things do. Some of the things that I like to fill my mind with are Flickr photostreams (usually watched as a slide show) of underwater ocean life, weather photos, photos of textiles, orchids, odd occurrences in nature, beautifully designed clothing, anything made of glass (ex.Dale Chihuly), art made of odd materials, places I dream of visiting. The list goes on and on. I allow my time on the net to be very serendipity, following trails from one place to the next, knowing I can go back and look at whatever later. My hope is that by looking at all these things, I am filling my mind with files of great color palettes, architectural design, and interesting textures that might at some point find their way into my work and help me grow as an artist.
I love the colors of Kansas and that tends to influence my work the most. But, I love color and never cease to be surprised and wowed by the things I see.
One of the things I feel is important to always have as part of my designs is an overall feeling of joy and love, and always a touch of whimsy. I want the give the viewer an uplift as much as the wearer. I do think this is something I have managed to achieve in my work, and I hope I never waiver from it. Making these pieces is therapy for me. Just running the wire through my fingers gives me a sense of calm and balance.

One aspect to my work that people find surprising is that I am not directly focused on what I am doing while I am creating my pieces. I am usually thinking about other things and making intuitive design decisions as I go. I love to listen to podcasts, music, or talk to friends with a headset on while I am working. I sometimes work in quiet, but not often. During storms I like to listen to only that. I usually have my cat Nigel for conversation as well.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. As with every artist, it is a snapshot in time. That's the wonderful thing about a weblog. I will be able to look back at these posts and see how my work and feelings about it have evolved and developed.


damtalldave said...

Very beautiful Dawn. In fact reading about your process is beautiful in itself. You definitely need to write a book somewhere along the line. As they say these days, GO GIRL!

WonderfulWire said...

I agree, that was beautifully written Dawn! I love 'peeks' inside anothers' mind and heart when talking of good things :) Thank you :)