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Transforming Inspiration into Image….Guest Blogger- Mary Martin

September 4, 2016

Summer Exhibition Blog #8    Level 3 Studies in Art and Design – Lantana

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. . .?”             

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Marti Oppenheimer permalink
    September 4, 2016 5:14 pm

    love seeing the detail, precision and use of colours in your work.

  2. Peggy Doyle permalink
    September 4, 2016 5:58 pm

    Inspirational color and detail Mary – Beautiful!

  3. Penny Peters permalink
    September 4, 2016 8:27 pm

    What a articulate description about the work of the artist, complete with joys and struggles. I am so happy you are really delving into your own creative process with gusto. Congratulations!

  4. September 5, 2016 2:05 am

    Love the colors and eye catching designs you’ve created.

  5. Gloria Shelton permalink
    September 7, 2016 1:29 am

    So nice to see your work up close. The range of designs is inspiring and the number of techniques incorporated shows your broad-based understanding of media and color.

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