Thursday, 8 May 2014

Wrestling with my headless chicken!

Well, long time no blog because the very real work of finding my style has to take priority.

This blog was not started entirely as a means of self promotion (far from it) but because my previous blog, (supporting a sponsored swim for a small charity I then chaired), became a therapeutic way of reflecting on my progress. And I enjoyed it. And other people seemed to enjoy reading it.

But while others on the course happily commented on heads & eyes full of patterns (as mine had been for two years), all of a sudden my head was full of the urge to blog about how difficult I was finding it.

None of the following is a reflection of the course itself (which is excellent), it is just how I personally responded to it. Trying to keep up with blogging as well as the course meant I did neither well. I paid lip service to some of the exercises, and posted designs and drawings I wasn't at all convinced about eg:
Hideous, isn't it!
Something had to give!

Pre-course explaining to my Mum, I said: 'You work on it and work on it and it doesn't work & it doesn't work and then all of a sudden there comes a moment when the design.....becomes.....itself!' It is a slightly mystical thing on occasion and my work requires a certain period of gestation and reflection. The demands of the course (with the demands of normal life too) made this requirement nigh on impossible to achieve.

The demands of the course? To read something online everyday, to create every day with new exercises most days, to browse for inspiration online, to scan in your work and upload it (can take ages), to take photos, upload them (really takes ages with my equipment!), to file all your hand-created work to protect it (& I created a lot).

And (if you are dutiful & caring and supportive of others) to comment & give thoughtful feedback on other people's work. There are 237 members of the private Facebook group and at one point I realised I was trying to keep up with 37 of them! Can't be done!

Also if you upload something yourself, the urge to keep looking to see whether anyone else has commented on it is quite strong. Many of us fell behind and went through periods of feeling somewhat fraught - but we picked each other up and got through. If you are thinking about doing the course I would say 'yes, definitely do it, but go in with open eyes - and manage yourself! Log on once a day only!'

This particular module has no requirement that you have Photoshop &/or Illustrator, but they do provide 'Bonus Technical Workshops' covering basic parts of these, for those who are interested. I've been using Photoshop Elements v2 (ancient) but just before the course I upgraded to the Creative Cloud version (blithely thinking 'how different can it be?' - I soon found out!), as well as Illustrator CC, as I am aware that a particular design might be used on different surfaces and at different scales. I cannot (yet?) find a way of changing the scale of a Photoshop design without it damaging the digital quality of the image.

Cue more headless chickening about:  I like the subtlety of what I produce in Photoshop and cannot seem to replicate it (yet?) in Illustrator. On the other hand, there are things I used to be able to do with Photoshop Elements that I can't seem to do in the upgrade (yet?).

In Illustrator I like the relatively straightforward way I can now do a box repeat and I like the security of the digital quality. But I don't always like what it does to my art work when I image trace it. For example, I like the pattern I made below (I'd even say it might fit whatever my style turns out to be) but when I zoom in I'm not so keen on the artwork - which I liked in its original state. I'd love to know what you think of it.
'Stark trees'
 So many learning curves to travel at once - what of the purer pleasures of the course?
  • Drawing & painting much much more
  • Having a set of structured exercises through which to develop my style
  • Learning the principles of putting pattern collections together (although the stripe needs work):
'Deco windows'
  • Creating some work I am very happy with (although - because it's in Photoshop I still worry about it's digital integrity):
    'Lungwort ribbon weave'
  • Discovering how to add one of my designs to a scarf 'mock-up' - although I don't yet know how to create such a mock up in the first place. Looking again I like both of these....
    'Abstract lines'
    'Blue Roses'
    Originally a design for my sister's birthday.
  • Receiving positive & constructive comments both on current & past work. I've 'met' some wonderful and very supportive people (some of whom I can tell already are going to go far)
  • People appreciating my sense of humour, as (confessing to dreading doing 'characters'), I uploaded the following scary page!

Hmmm - some way to go with this exercise, I feel!
Though it's not something I'm 'drawn' to anyway.

The positive & the negative: it's all is part & parcel of doing what I love (patterning) and an aspect of what I love about it is the intellectual challenges it presents. If I am not challenged to think & create - who am I?

I now have a few weeks grace before the start of module two so I'm afraid you won't be hearing from me for some time.................. :-)