Friday, December 11, 2015

New Work: Round and Round

Round and Round
12" x 16"
painted acrylic papers on wc paper

initial paper sketch on design board with a mat to give sense of use of space

layout of larger background pieces

end of work day Thursday
Don't adjust your dial, as we used to say! I completed another limited value/black and white piece today. I thought I would have another go at things to keep learning what I can about designing this way. And honestly, it's a relief not to worry about color. I am providing some process shots just in case there is any interest. Oh, and I should add that I was inspired by my trip several months ago to the historical Folsom Powerhouse in Folsom. That was really a fruitful trip!

These pieces start with a sketch or series of sketches. I write down ideas and words over time; things that interest me or things that I think. I try to put like things together (images, shapes, ideas and words) in order to come up with one idea for a piece. Lately, I have even had the title ready prior to getting started. 

That first pic after the finished image is how I cut out initial shapes and tape them to a design board. It's just like sketching or blocking in your idea with paint and a brush only I use construction paper and scissors. I can move pieces around, enlarge or reduce them or what have you. This time around I started out with shapes and ideas that were too small. I ended up taking everything off and starting all over. I realized that I wanted larger, more geometric shapes to act as the background. (see that next pic) 

After I got those shapes down (see the next pic) I started to add smaller and smaller details. I wait to see how the piece "feels" to me. If I know that things are working then I can keep proceeding and finish. The last pic shows things glued down. At this point I knew that I was just adding what I think of as "micro details". That all can be seen in the final pic. And things that I thought I was going to do got abandoned in favor of other things that worked just as well or worked better. My motto here is that I will abandon everything, I am not kidding, and that allows me to be a better editor I think. I don't get tied to stuff like I used to. It works much better for me this way.

OK, I learned some things so here they are:

* this is a broken record by now: largest areas first, then smaller and smaller!

* go general to specific (see above!) I realized that in my eagerness to use a particular motif, I overlook just what that motif is-a shape! The shape can be generalized and repeated in lots of ways. I don't need a ton of motifs!

* Lots of little shapes can serve as one big shape (see broken record above!)

* I am learning more and more about how circles are made and how they work. You would think they are straightforward but they are not!

* Probably the most important skill I am trying to develop is the "what if?" skill. What happens if I undo one thing and do something else? Not being afraid of ditching one thing for another is very liberating. Or even of just thinking of trying something to see if it works. Why wouldn't you?

* The second skill I am trying to develop is the "micro/macro" skill. Nicholas Wilton just wrote a blog post here about something similar. The article is worth a read. It's my thought that going back and forth from one section to another, viewing the parts and then viewing the whole, without romancing one little bit over another little bit, is the way to go. I think of it as a micro to macro and a macro to micro way of seeing things. 

* And lastly, I am trying to always be aware of why I am doing something. What am I trying to do with this shape or that line? Why am I adding or subtracting something? 

It probably sounds like I do a lot of thinking; maybe I do, maybe I don't. I have worked in a reactionary way and it is like spinning my wheels. And against my nature anyway. There is a difference in being spontaneous and expansive and just kind of careening around willy-nilly. Let me just add that I would never get in my car to go somewhere without directions, my wallet, money and a snack. Seriously!

Thanks for reading and commenting. Leave me a comment if you like.


  1. I greatly appreciated your photos showing the planning stages. I think manipulating the shapes gives a great opportunity to try out the "look" before committing to glue. This one is very balanced, Libby, yet you've added details in various places to offer variety.

    1. Carol,

      Thanks! Balanced seems like a good thing:) I tried to repeat sizes and the idea of certain shapes. These pieces are challenging in all sorts of ways. I am guaranteed to learn something each time:)

      Thanks as always for the visit and comments.

  2. Libby I am a bit late visiting this week. So enjoyed seeing the process you used for creating this work- which by the way is amazing. Interesting thought regarding circles. I see several half ones or semi-circle. Love the way you used them in each layer. Thank you friend for being so generous in sharing.

    1. Debbie,

      People get so busy don't they? Anytime you visit is great!

      The circles are interesting to work with. I didn't do well in geometry! They have centers, diameters, etc and can be off. They can be repeated in lots of ways I suspect. Shapes are so versatile in general. The pieces are so challenging for me because of all those things.

      I bet you are ready for Christmas:) What will you be doing?

      Take care. I am always happy to talk with you.

  3. Beautiful design and process, Libby. Always growing, learning, stretching - that's you!

    1. Thanks Judy!

      I am certainly trying to learn something each time. Always an opportunity.

      Hope you are well and staying warm and dry. Thank you as always for your kind words.


  4. Really like this piece! Reminds me of your earlier work with the buildings around Calaveras County. Nice!!

    1. Debra,

      Thanks! I do think these pieces have some things in common with my earlier stuff so that seems good. I like structure in general-how things are put together, solid forms, machinery, inner workings of stuff, things like that. It all fits well with hard edges and I like that too.

      What do you have going on in your studio?



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