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Finding a Missing Link in Design – Guest Blogger: Mary Martin

July 20, 2016

I’ve been trying to understand design for over forty years, beginning in my later twenties when I got interested in creative stitchery in the “pretty-much-anything-goes” 1970s, a time when one could get away with not knowing very much about good design and still have a fair degree of commercial success. I learned a thing or two, here and there, but never felt as if I had found quite the answers I sought.  I seemed, in my creative work, that I was trying to build a house, but in the absence of a firm foundation. There was a significant empty space in my store of knowledge, something I couldn’t identify or name, but clearly an important missing piece.  The carrot that led me onward was the prospect, in retirement, of being able to devote as much time as I chose in creative pursuits, applying what I had learned over the years in hopes that I would discover I had learned what it was I had been seeking.

A few years into retirement, a dear friend encouraged me to take a five-day experimental machine stitchery class from Gail Harker, which has led to four hugely enriching years of study.  Gail’s extraordinary ability to recognize where a student is in an individual continuum of creative development, and help each of us develop our own pathway to fulfillment, has resulted in me, finally, not only identifying and naming what I sought in terms of understanding design, but also to practice it.  Under her tutelage, I realized that the missing tool in my toolbox was not any of the formal rules, elements, and principles of design, but the nature of the process of transforming inspiration into an object.  I learned that good design can come from anywhere – the colors of cloud reflections on the water at sunset, the pattern of cracks in dried mud, the shape and paths of water droplets on a window, the unexpected contours of the shadow of measuring spoons resting on a cutting board, the balance of the spaces between the letters on a license plate.  I finally understand that good design is not just creating or reproducing a realistic representation of my source of inspiration.  I can take selected details from what caught my eye, put those details together into a satisfying composition using the basic design concepts we’ve explored, and come up with something totally my own that contains but doesn’t need to copy my inspirational source. It’s like letting the air out of a balloon.  All that creative energy that has been so tightly contained for so long by uncertainty, wanting to do it “right,” and not understanding that there is no ONE right way, is released to expand infinitely.

Finally, I can LIVE “What if. . .?”             Mary Martin

Click on the link   Level 3 Studies in Art and Design Exhibit: to read about the upcoming exhibit on Aug. 13th and 14th.    Mary and the rest of her group – the Lantana will be displaying their design work.

Level 3 Studies in Art and Design Exhibit:  Click on the link to read about the upcoming exhibit on Aug. 13th and 14th.    Mary and the rest of her group – the Lantana will be showing their design work.


One Comment leave one →
  1. July 21, 2016 12:30 am

    Beautifully expressed, and I share your delight!

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