Monday, 12 May 2008

Fire-up your imagination

“I have in the past seen in clouds and walls stains which have inspired me to beautiful inventions of many things. These stains, while wholly in themselves deprived of perfection in any part, did not lack perfection in regard to their movements or other actions.”

Leonardo da Vinci (In
Leonardo on Painting: Anthology of Writings by Leonardo Da Vinci with a Selection of Documents Relating to His Career as an Artist (Yale Nota Bene) )

An old stone wall in the village of Assas in the South of France

Get into the habit of using random shapes to get your imagination started. Abstract shapes are seeds to grow your creativity from.

The human mind naturally looks for meaning and it will either consider shapes it does not recognise as being unimportant “noise” or it will relate the perception to existing knowledge and create meaning where there are only shapes. The key is to keep an open mind and “question” the shape you discover.

There are many opportunities to find around us shapes to work with. Play with the shapes you can see in:

  • Clouds
  • Geometric patterns on carpets or wallpapers
  • Peeled bark on trees
  • Moss growing on trees
  • Stains on old walls
  • Negative shapes in foliage

The roots of a sequoia tree

Creative exercise

Take a drawing pad and make an outline of a stain you found. Then look away from the subject and see what you can create with this abstract shape as a starting point.

Don’t hesitate to turn your pad on the side or upside down and see if the stain in this new position inspires different ideas.

Visual arts are based on patterns. Even if you don’t see them at play, they guide the eyes through the work: the diminishing lampposts along the road or the interlocking shapes of buildings for instance. On top of stimulating your imagination, this exercise will also develop your sense of working with patterns.

A stone egg I brought back from Morocco. Can you see a bird?

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