Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finding ideas for art

My process for finding ideas for art often involves not an idea first, but some physical work with my hands first. When completing this new felted drum stick I used St Mary's hitching because I love how complicated it looks and how easy it is to do. As I worked I became interested in how the spiral wound itself visually down the driftwood stick. This winding staircase became the pattern I rediscovered when I decided to use the hitching lacing to fasten together the smoke-tan sheathing. This pattern of spiraling, repeating diagonals became the visual idea I used to hold all the parts of the drum stick together.

Using wool from sheep here on Cortes Island is another important material for my shamanic art, but making the join between the wool and the tanned hide can be visually challenging. My guiding art idea of a repeating diagonal caused me to choose two different colors of hide for making this beautiful four strand braid.

Most of my art initially begins with some kind of physical action; it is the action itself that starts the exploration for a guiding idea--like having a dialog with stone or paper or wood. This is the way I began each Journey Oracle card of the oracle deck I created. I gazed into the surface of one of three things--a slice of agate, an ammonite shell, or a dried disk of deer skin--and began painting with no notion of what or who would appear. The oracle card directed its own visual story, just like the physical wrapping of this new drum stick directed its unifying idea.