Daily creative challenge, Jan - Feb review

I'm now 2 months into my new challenge to do something creative every day for a year. I've mentioned it briefly on instagram early on, but then decided to track it privately in a notebook.

I have given myself very very loose guidelines on what counts as creative as the idea is to enjoy it, not get all perfectionist and stressy about it. Despite that, I have missed a few days so far, mainly because of illness. I'm now tracking why I miss a day to help me find ways to see that challenge in advance and think of things I can do whilst lurking under the duvet with a lurgy or whatever. Hopefully in time this info will be valuable in developing strong creative habits for life!

So how's it going so far?

So far this year it hasn't encouraged me to tackle any larger or more finished pieces of work, but it has definately encouraged me to make more of an effort each day. On work days I have used it as the impetus to get around to making prototypes of new designs I've been thinking about for a while and to do more creative play to develop ideas, make maquettes, test out new surface finish ideas etc.

On days when I wasn't officially at work I've been drawing a lot more and even carrying a little sketchbook around with me on my travels to enable that day's activity. I've also made an effort to try new recipes, and when all else fails to get my half-finished knitting out.

Recently I've noticed that it's starting to effect all kinds of activities, for example whilst driving I'm noticing details of the landscape around me, however humble, and that's triggering ideas for new work.

Keeping the tracking notebook is also helping me to begin to understand my own creativity a bit more, to note what feels creative when and to begin to see a longer term process coming to light. This is showing that I need to be out an about looking at things in order to stock up on interesting mental imagery, but also that I then need to leave it alone in the back of my brain for a while to settle in, connect with other images or ideas in ehatever subconscious way so that later on, in their own time, new creative ideas can come to me. This is helpful in encouraging me to make sure I keep looking at the world all the time and don't worry about trying too hard to force ideas out before they are ready, that tends to lead to too much thinkiness which for me is less interesting.

All told I'm really glad I started and look forward to seeing where else it will take me. If/when there are new developments I will post an update.

5 to see at West Dean Arts & Craft Festival featuring Made

It's a long show name and a long roster of inspiring makers for this marquee show in the West Dean gardens. This will be my first time showing there and I am really excited to see the work on show there. Some are old favourites I always like to check in with, others are new to me so I'll have plenty to explore.

 Elaine Bolt ceramics

 Elaine Bolt ceramics

James Dougall silversmith

James Dougall silversmith

Linzi Jones  knitwear

Linzi Jones knitwear

Sarah Drew  jewellery

Sarah Drew jewellery

For more details and ticket bookings etc see the website.

A certain kind of light

I am blessed here with a manageble number of good galleries and am making a renewed effort to get to each at least once a quarter to see whatever they are showing as a way of expanding my horizons. This weekend it was the turn of the Towner in Eastbourne. I knew that I had read the programme and thought it might be interesting but by the time a free afternoon became available I had no reccollection of what was on so it was a total suprise! The one that resonated most for me was 'A certain kind of light'.

The piece that has stayed with me most strongly is the Colour construction, 1960, by Peter Lanyon (the blue glass form in the first gallery installation view). I loved the layering and the shapes and the way he had used the qualities of the glass to do something new.

Raphael Hefti's work also had an intrguing process, using the chemicals within the plant to 'burn' an image directly onto the photographic paper, with intriguing results.

It was interesting to see the two larger installation pieces by Katie Peterson and Mark Garry, one so fun and un-gallery-like it made me laugh and then almost fall over with the way it disrupted my sense of balance (according to the lable it had something pretty clever to say about the cosmos but I didn't get my head around that side of it), whilst the latter was quiet, subtle and almost invisible from some angles but very pleasing for the way the tiny threads bounced and twisted around the space to make something more than the sum of its parts.

David Batchelor's piece had a Mexican approach to colour that also speaks of fun, and was certainly cheering in it's effect, but his use of waste plastic bottles in many colours and forms gave it significance.

Light is super-important to me, so such so that I hardly even think about it, so it was useful to see so many different approaches to it and think again about what it is, how it behaves, the impact it has on materials and on the viewer.

The show is on until May 7th 2017 if you want to catch it yourself.

Art with a bang

My newest art discovery is the work of Cai Guo-Quiang. He's a pretty well established already but somehow I'd missed hearing about him until now.

I was particularly struck by his comments on his early career when he was doing quite conventional paintings and feeling overly influenced by his father, a traditional calligrapher. He grew up in the city which is the centre of the Chinewe fireworks industry and at some point had the inspiration to use gunpowder in his art. As he said "gunpowder set me free"! Sadly for me, how that inspiration came about was not recorded, so the rest of us will have to find our own way to whatever could correspondingly set us free...

As a big fan of fireworks the pyrotechnic side of his work has an obvious draw for me, using gunpowder in controlled explosions directly onto the canvas:

image: feedly.com

image: feedly.com

image by artnet.com

image by artnet.com

But also working with people in the fireworks industry to make them more ecologically sound and do new things:

image by upperplayground.com

image by upperplayground.com

And on a huge scale, this ladder is 500m high! Designed to connect the earth with outer space