The Laws of Nature

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bringing Play to Work



I really like the title of section 4, Chapter 1 of Wendy Richmond's book, Art Without Compromise. "Bringing Play to Work" is something I need to do right now since I'm feeling intense labor pains over the birth of my new series and, this winter is long.

This section begins with the phrase "Back in 1994," which is a little unnerving since that seems like the blink of an eye in time to me. Nevertheless, Richmond discusses when the Chiat/Day advertising agency redesigned its headquarters, and the subsequent description that appeared in The New York Times Magazine as: "the architectural equivalent of a brainstorm: 29,000 boisterous, loosely organized square feet, bursting with color, form, and wit." Inspired by this article, Richmond assigned to her graphic design class the task of "creating a design studio that embodies the essence of enjoyment and creativity." They were challenged to use an unconventional space and ended up transforming and ice skating rink into an office in a most unusual way. I especially liked the idea of using the ice as a chalkboard and a Zamboni for the eraser.

The rest of this chapter describes in detail the students' marvelous and fun innovations. The moral of the story is: What I had not expected was that they would also identify a creative essential that we often forget, even eliminate, in our work: the element of play.

It's time to remodel my studio!! Where'd I put that whoopie cushion? Seriously, though, I can see her point. The "creative juices" flow faster when I'm having fun.


Below is an attempt to meld my individual kelp studies into a single composition. Although parts of it please me, I'm still unhappy with some problem areas and will try, try again on a new sheet of paper today. The size is 21" x 27", watercolor on paper. Maybe this will turn out better if I leave it to chance and have some fun!!



Your thoughts?

13 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

The JP pic is a ton of fun! Good illustration for this.

Labor pains! I was going to describe the start of a new series as like having a baby, too. But...

I do really love the kelp idea. What a subject - I can't wait to see how it develops. Kathy.

Mark Sheeky said...

There's room for fun but also calmness. I have Roman soldiers fighting British Rourke's Drift troops on the tops of the paintings hanging in my room, but I find that fun clutter can invade the delicate unconscious when blankness can expand it.

The kelp picture is wonderfully smooth and the colours looks just right to me. The balance is a bit to the bottom right so that everything is secretly pointing towards the empty space in the top left. I'd crop the pic at an approximate angle there "/"! and make the contour of the frame match the contour of the object!

hwfarber said...

I agree that the element of play is important--for me, it's near the top of the list. It has worked well for the Google Empire, too.

I've never experienced labor pains during the art process; however, when I finish a piece I am totally wiped out for a few days.

Your painting is already beautiful. I'm guessing what changes you might make so I'll anxiously await its next posting.

PAMO said...

Beautiful work Kathy!! Stunning colors. A really brilliant artist- by the name of Don Micheal Jr. has mentioned more that once- if it's not fun, why do it? I agree.

PAMO said...

Opps Don- I remembered not to add the "s"- but misspelled anyway. That's Don Michael, Jr.

Margaret Ryall said...

What appeals to me about mixed media is that it allows me to often get my hands directly in the work. I love the papers, the touching, tearing, layering, scratching, sanding, marking. All those tactile experiences bring me back to childhood and also create connections with my years working with young children - the hands on play aspect of it.

Living on the edge of the Atlantic brings me in direct contact with the content of your latest series. I'm wishing your labour pains away because I want to see what's next. I'm loving what I see.

Kathy said...

Hi Casey - you and I are both going through the painful process of creating a new series, and misery loves company. Thanks for your support. I have no idea where this is going to go...

Hi Mark - Good point ... too much fun can distract from the work. I guess there's a balance. I like your idea about cropping my painting. Actually, the work fails on many levels and is already in my reject pile in the studio as I begin a new one. Lots of experimentation going on here!

Hi Hallie - I agree that executing a painting is exhausting. However, I seem to wake up with plenty of energy in the morning and start all over again. Wish I had your imagination - then I could make these kelp paintings much more interesting.

Hi Pam - thanks for quoting one of my favorite artists!

Hi Margaret - it's wonderful that your work has a strong tactile side. That would be so rewarding and fun! thanks for your encouragement, as well. Who knows where my experiments will lead. Chance seems to be taking the lead now.

Stan Kurth said...

Got the book!

I think I have fun in the studio, but fun is a relative term. I'm more contemplative than playful and I'm not sure I want to change that, although coincidentally I've been thinking of doing a new series (I don't do a lot of them) based on the drawings I can remember doing as a young child. I'm not real sure, but maybe the reason I want to do this is because I had so much fun (playing) while drawing. I even mouthed sound effects while drawing such things as cars, planes, soldiers, wars, bombs going off, monsters...

Crazy?

I'm liking the kelp series! I'm also anxious to see how it develops. What I like so far about the concept and what you have already painted is the contrast between kelp and rock, especially as metaphor. Excellent work!

hwfarber said...

You certainly don't need anyone else's imagination. I'm sure you saw this in your mind before you began. What more could you want?

I agree with Stan--kelp vs rock.

Kathy said...

Hi Stan - I'm so glad you bought the book! Feel free to augment what I write. Most of my editing is based upon my own interests. I'll be very interested to see how you develop your work. I've studied your drawings online and they are so imaginative that I can understand how your childhood love of drawing has stayed with you. Thanks for encouragement about my attempts to create a new series. I have a long way to go before it's fully developed.

Hi Hallie - Thank you!

-Don said...

Kathy, Another great post... and what great comments... especially Pam's...

Your use of color in the kelp is spectacular! Those warm colors and the overlapping layers in the kelp give it a sensual feel that reminds me of O'Keefe's flower abstractions. This is contrasted nicely by the cold hardness of the rock.

If you're just going to throw it away I know a guy who could find a place for it on his studio wall...

-Don

Kathy said...

Hi Don - Thanks so much for your support. The stack of rejects, including this one, grows ever larger in my studio. But, the next post informs me about how I can better utilize them to reach my goal. I hope that "guy" has some discards of his own that he can send this way, too!!

-Don said...

Maybe that guy and that girl should discuss this betwixt themselves... -Don