The Joy of a new Challenge!

As part of my class on Engaging your Voice, I not only did the homework assignment (that’s another post!), but also wanted to provide a real time example of how an art practice can be used to both stimulate and evolve my voice. I have looked at the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge a couple of times and considered it but never followed through successfully. I decided to use their monthly challenge as my guinea pig and signed up. The inspiration piece for January 2015 was by Hundertwasser:

January 2015 ABS Challenge: Hundertwasser's Imagine Tomorrow

January 2015 ABS Challenge: Hundertwasser’s Imagine Tomorrow

I loved the vitality of the colors, particularly given the grey days of winter so common in MN in January, but they are definitely brighter than my normal palette. Great, I thought, it will indeed be a challenge!

I studied the piece and identified sections that I thought might make interesting art beads and jewelry. I mixed up the colors according to the palette that someone helpfully posted to the Pinterest group and started making a few simple canes from the design elements. Things were humming along smoothly. Then I tried to make one of the ideas in to reality….

Um, wow. It wasn’t working. It was just bleh. So back to the piece and more studying. What had I missed? Two big things emerged – the split of black and white background for the design elements and the repetition of all of those little circles that are not quite the same each time.

I decided to work on a simple flat piece to practice my layout and to see what I could capture of his feel. At first, I had too many large elements (too busy!!), so I scrapped some of them, and then the few spots I had put in grabbed all of the attention. I asked myself what was the last thing that would seem to make sense to do at that point and came up with “Add more circles!”. Lo and behold, by putting more on, the strong graphic element became part of a pattern and faded back to an emphasis on par with the rest of the design. Oh. I would never have thought of that.

I considered trying to do some of his little people as I thought they would be charming, but decided that it would have to be too close a copy for my comfort in my first submission to the Art Bead Scene challenge. I may still do that some time for my own jewelry, but for now I wanted to push myself in the direction of “stealing like an artist” (a la Austin Kleon).

I found myself wanting to do one of my “shields” (a flat piece that is on the large side to really wear effectively), so I went ahead and did it just to get it out of the way. This was another one of the practices that I had come up with from my research for my Voice class as a tactic for dealing with resistance, and I was really happy to see it work. The shield is okay and allowed me to try out an idea for an earring design, but it isn’t a great piece. It was good practice for reminding myself that I need sketches as well as finished pieces if I want to keep my skills honed; it’s okay to not have every single piece be something to sell!

I will have more on the pieces I ended up with out of this exercise, but I can honestly say that it stretched my design and analytic abilities in some really exciting ways. The non-jewelry pieces are starting to transition away from the inspiration and more fully in to my own style, but they still have a new flavor that I really enjoy. The process of analysis, trial, re-examination, etc. helped me to see how he put things together rather than just what he had put in the piece. What seemed to make so much sense in my head really didn’t work when I actually tried it, but making myself go through the trials got me to a place where it was much better.

Now I’m excited to see what they post for February’s challenge!

2015 Jan ABS challenge components

Earring elements and the “shield” as work in progress


PCGMN bowl challenge candidate

PCGMN bowl challenge candidate


Earrings for my ABS Jan 2015 Jewelry entry

Earrings for my ABS Jan 2015 Jewelry entry