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Monday, May 16, 2016

Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff


One A Day collage: "Phone 3211"  9x12 sketch

Last month I taught a class called The Creative Process and during that class I stressed the value of a daily practice. That's why I started this blog, One A Day, about five years ago. I committed to make a small collage every day as a way of entering the studio, a warm-up practice. And I did just that for a long time but then gradually blogging daily crept off my radar until lately I've been mostly absent from this blog.

It isn't intentional. I haven't given up making things. It's just that my interest shifted and writing didn't serve me as well.  I've been giving that some thought, and I'm anxious to hold myself accountable to my loyal readers, so here I am again, telling you that I intend to be more regular with my online musings.

GO TO YOUR STUDIO AND MAKE STUFF

One thing I talked about with my students was the value of setting up some sort of "entering the studio" practice. It could be anything they choose to do that fits easily into their life: sketching, sorting paper, moving paint on paper, small collages, journaling.  The purpose is to get the creative juices flowing. No pianist enters the concert hall without warming up. No pitcher steps onto the mound without throwing lots of balls on the sidelines. I can't expect to make a good drawing without first making some marks on paper to limber up my fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder and get my right brain involved in making stuff.

Since I work primarily in collage it makes sense to work with my materials and tools a bit before I tackle the serious work. I believe that any artist worth the name will keep some sort of sketchbook so that's what I do. I have lots of sketchbooks, some for drawing, some for journaling about what goes on in my studio, but for my collage warmups I work in one primary sketchbook, a 9x12 Canson XL Mix Media spiral bound book. It accepts acrylic, watercolor, glue, and ink without buckling and it's not expensive so I'm not scared of making ugly mistakes. Collage is forgiving. If the work is really ugly I simply gesso over it or add another layer of paper and no one's the wiser.

I'll follow the example of one of my teachers, Joan Schulz, who dedicates a small area of her studio to her first-thing collage making, small postcards.  In my First-Thing area is my sketchbook, a glue stick, a small box of colorful paper bits, and a pair of scissors.  I set my timer for 15 minutes and get to work.

What's your warm-up practice? How do its benefits show up in your work? I've love to have you tell other readers what you do to get going when you enter your studio. Simply click on Comment below and share your experience, please.

Jo

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