And four ? Even better sometimes!
Do you sometimes feel guilty that you are not working on one project at a time till it is complete? It’s all about understanding your process.
Over the years, whether I’m drawing, painting or working with fibre, I like having several pieces on the go. They can be 2D or 3D, large or small, male or female, colourful or monochromatic, needlework or needle-felting.
I’m not sure where this process came from but it seems to be the one I follow most often. It works really well for the wool sculptures.
There are quite a few benefits to this process.
- It prevents me from getting bored with one piece or medium. Who am I kidding? I can’t get bored with so much lovely wool to work with!
- I can leave one piece if I feel stuck or frustrated, and work on another one without losing the flow.
- Sometimes the rhythm of working the larger components is working really well so I start on the next one and perhaps another, before moving on to finishing and details.
- The face may pull back for a while or, I might need to leave it until I am ready to listen and work with it.
- There is less of a chance of having a ‘blank canvas’ block when there is something always in the works. That allows me to chose to work on everything from a clean slate to just making eyes, to adding finishing touches. Either one can act as a warm up exercise – something to get the juices and hands moving at the beginning of the day.
- It can happen that I end up finishing a few in one go-around. That feels really good.
- Sometimes I can work out problems in a new piece without experimenting on the one in progress. If I try a technique and it doesn’t work for the piece I’m working on, all is not lost. I can try something else and leave that trial to rework into another piece at some later date. Taking the time to experiment and play charges me up to return to the main piece.
- I can make choices for a number of pieces at a time. I might discover that one wool is more suited to a particular area, one color of hair or background technique suits one character more than another.
- Maybe I need to pause until I find the right stand, frame or backing for that particular piece.
- When ideas come to me, I don’t want to lose them so I might start a new piece right away. Sometimes those ideas come through my fingers, the feel of the wool or the technique and it can’t be solely sketched out or written down. If I can get the beginning of a piece started, the idea is not lost.
- I am often on the road so it is important to have works that are portable, usually smaller than my regular faces. Working from different angles – standing, sitting at a table, sitting in a living room or car – gives me changing perspectives and bonus, allows for different body posture.
- It prevents me from getting too comfortable with one way of doing things.
- I find it pleasing to have near-finished and finished pieces hanging about. I live with them for a while, see them speak to each other, continue my own conversations with them and, listen. The faces inform one another and suggest other characters join the group. And, if one is shy about coming forward, he can watch and wait till the moment is right.
One thing I know, I sure won’t get lonely working with all these characters.
At the end of the day I try to evaluate the diversions. Were they a positive force or not? How much time did they occupy? Were they based on a lack of focus or fear or procrastination? Were they used for working out a problem, trying out a technique, capturing an illusive idea or, a well needed playtime to shift my mindset and let go of the ‘must-dos’?
I try not to spend too much time on the analysis. Long drives are good for this. It does however, help me to be aware of my motivations and understand the process that feeds my creativity. It also helps me keep the joy in what I do.