The first thing we notice in a creative act is that it is an encounter.
Creativity is the marvellous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities and draw a spark from their juxtaposition.
Since collaborative learning and idea sharing are an integral part of the artistic process, we will be having four PLAY DATES a month. These are studio days which will be centered around a prompt or creative challenge for teams of artists (or individuals, should you prefer to work alone).
Each PLAY DATE will be a chance for you to "play" with other creatives in the room on a project that will only be for the purpose of idea exploration, media play and experimentation. Students who wish to work on challenging, personally meaningful projects outside of my suggested list (below) need to VISIT ME for approval prior to beginning - please remember... this is not a class to continue practicing what you're already good at!
EXPERIMENT: Graphic Quotes
Find 5 to 10 quotes that you believe or interesting or which reflect your belief system. Using a full page in your idea journal, write out the entire quote (including its author/speaker) in an interesting way, using the page space. Feel free to use hand-lettered fonts, or refer to the internet for a variety of fancy letters... but make sure it still “reads” in the correct order and is legible. Using any coloured media (watercolour, acrylic, pencil crayons, coloured markers and/or your fine black marker), make the page look finished and polished for display.
EXPERIMENT: Titled Drawing
Choose one of the titles listed below. Create a full-page artwork in response to that title. Conflict of Interest / More than Meets the Eye / Warped / Nightmare / Habits / You Are What You Eat / Lonely / The End / Pairs / I Get Around / Balance / Home is Where... / All that Glitters... / Layer It On / So Transparent / Messing Around / Over the Edge / The Senses / Threads / It’s My Nature / Take Cover / Hot and Cold / Lemon Yellow / Caught Up
EXPERIMENT: A Great Subject
Steal a page of notes from another subject that you either like or dislike (English, Chemistry, PhysEd, Science, Math, whatever!). Glue it down into your sketchbook and use it as a base to create an artwork that reflects your thoughts, feelings, challenges with, or admiration for the subject. Feel free to add text, images, and collage pieces where needed.
EXPERIMENT: New Take / Old Story
Fill your page with a new version of an old (well-known) story. This could be a folk or fairy tale (Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs), a story from history (Hitler’s occupation of Germany), or a commonly known story from religious texts, fiction or poetry (Adam & Eve, Moby Dick, Romeo & Juliet). You could modernize the story to happen in contemporary times, or perhaps show a side of the story we never got to see.
EXPERIMENT: What a Character
Fill your whole page with invented characters who could all be a part of a story. Each should have its own personality, physical traits, costume/clothing and accessories – and of course, a name! Label each character in detail. Finish your drawings with watercolour paint or detail it with coloured pencil and ink.
Explore the origin of a word, symbol or icon, and create a color or black and white design based on this information. Choose a word or icon and begin researching its meaning and origin. Try to cross-reference dual meanings, different contexts and all relevant information. The symbol may be transformed, repeated, enlarged and/or combined with other visual imagery.
EXPERIMENT: Self Portrait Still-Life
Set up a still life of 5 or more objects which tell a story about you (or the "you" nobody gets to know). Iincludes a single light source and fabric. Draw it with correct proportions, perspective, shading/values and accuracy. Still life drawings do not have to be boring. Make it your own, consider your style and approach to make it unique... show the viewer about yourself by choosing interesting objects that are meaningful symbolically or metaphorically!
Although myths are often considered to be fictitious or false stories, it can also include an artist’s ability to generate any kind of unique and original story. Tell a story by using graphic images. Symbolize a true or imaginary happening or event. Don’t overexplain the underlying message; include only five or six visual elements in your whole composition, but select and combine them carefully to create a potent message. Maintain an element of mystery.
EXPERIMENT: Childhood Phrase
Create a color design based on a phrase heard during childhood. Select a phrase from your childhood. Consider its actual meaning and their individual interpretation. A visual image associated with the chosen phrase is then created.
Select a commonplace object (an appliance, tool, sports equipment, mechanical device, something you could find in most homes) to serve as a subject for your transformation. Make six or seven drawings of the object, each on representing one kind of synectic transformation. Make the first drawing a representational one (for purposes of analysis and reference) and make the rest of them radical transformations triggered by SYNECTIC fantasy. Arrange all of your images on a common background.
EXPERIMENT: Magical Object
What special powers do you need? Using materials found in all corners of your house or the second-hand store, make one of the following: a shrine, a talisman, a wand, a totem, a charm, a mojo, or any other thingy imbued with whatever you consider to be magical or spiritual. Create an object or artifact that conjures up the essence of unreasonable “specialness”. Use art supplies to decorate your natural materials or found objects – anything works - but keep the object no smaller than 4” and no larger than 15” tall.
EXPERIMENT: Public Art
Find examples of public art works or installations on the internet. Think of a location in Winnipeg that you could use, and think of an interesting topic or theme that would fit with that specific location. Draw a detailed plan / design / plans for your public artwork.
EXPERIMENT: Ways of Representing
Make a three or four panel composition based on the analysis, rendering and reconstruction of an object. Work from the actual subject or from a clear photograph. Drawn the first image as an accurate representation, then produce and abstract design, reducing the original image into a likeness or stylization. Reduce the shape and detail, and at the same time exploit the emerging aesthetic qualities. Finally in the third drawing, produce an even more abstract composition, reducing the object to bare formal elements. It may only bear a slight resemblance to the original subject. The third drawing should be perceived as a nonrepresentational design with vague symbolic undertones.
Invent a new crusader who fights for the rights of the underdog. What would heroes look like if they were completely average, or maybe even people who don't normally fit? Rethink the notion of a superhero by celebrating someone who is overlooked and under appreciated.
EXPERIMENT: Still Life with Reflection
Set up a still life that consists of 3 or more reflective objects. Set up the objects on a table, and place a lamp near it to create dramatic lighting. Your goal is to convey a convincing representation. Draw it as accurately as you can.
EXPERIMENT: Profile in Pen
This is a chance for you to practice your observational drawing skills... lightly draw a profile portrait of a friend, family member, or pet in pencil, and then use a regular ball-point pen to finish the work. Focus on creating values and textures with your mark-making.
EXPERIMENT: Typography Treasure Hunt
Create your own graphic design font specimen sheet. Cut out all of the letters of the alphabet from different pages of magazines – you can’t use two of the same font! Try to create a page filled with an alphabetical collage – in order – with all of the letters of the alphabet!
EXPERIMENT: Advertisement for Yourself
If you were a product, how would you sell yourself? Create a full page advertisement for yourself. This can be funny (parody / satire), serious (like a resume of sorts), or completely fictional. Turn this artwork into a full-colour poster advertisement for yourself as a product or for a fictional service you provide.
EXPERIMENT: Wordplay Design
Combine two different words to “jump start” your imagination. Randomly select two works, one adverb and one noun, and give your fantasy full rein. With mixed media materials, produce an outrageous image. Adverbs: surreal, caged, webbed, failed, camouflaged, armed, twisted, bonded, personalized, melted, chained, bandaged, broken, illuminated, etc. Nouns: heart, door, banana, diary, target, sign, ladder, rainbow, monument, window, map, saviour, tree, mask, map, shadow, bicycle, statue, key, etc.
EXPERIMENT: Art and Issues
Social, ethical, or moral issues can be visually signified. Create a design in one more panels which, without words, shows your point of view and presents a potent image. Portray your views on a contemporary issue such as: gun control, alcohol abuse, capital punishment, pornography, women’s issues, geriatric issues, poverty, endangered species, environmental issues, terrorism, moral or ethical issues, minority issues, etc.
EXPERIMENT: Found Face
Using an altered surface in your idea journal - glued down dictionary pages, magazines, tags, wrappers, old packaging, used envelopes, and/or shipping tags, CREATE an image that includes a human face. In this problem, try to use the human face in a repeating, layered or overlapping composition. Background areas and the found papers are painted or drawn and altered.
EXPERIMENT: Visual Onomatope
A schematic doodle can be used to analogize feelings and emotions. Draw some schematic doodles which analogize the following: Love, peace, distress, sorrow, persecution, tenderness, anxiety, fear, apathy, obsession, birth, death, idea, freedom, depression, constraint, freedom, puzzlement.
EXPERIMENT: Reconstruct an Old Myth
Paraphrase an old myth – change it, update it, give it a new setting, new characters and new meaning. Use mixed media such as wood, metal, fabric and found objects to realize your concept.
EXPERIMENT: Bizarre Monument
Use mixed media to design (or even create in 3D) a bizarre monument. Possible themes could be: (1) an ode to an extinct or endangered species (2) a mythological hero (3) a problem of modern living.
EXPERIMENT: Gig Poster
Design a band/musician gig poster that tells the public about an upcoming concert/show. Choose any band/musician you want and the concert can take place anywhere. The TWIST is you must not include a face or any distinguishing characteristic of the musician. This forces you to think more deeply about the genre of music and the imagery the music invokes in its listeners.
EXPERIMENT: Transforming One thing into Another
Think of two things that are very different but visually look alike. For example, a pair of scissors and an alligator. Then draw a very realistic observational drawing of the first item and over the course of four to six drawings change it into the second object.
EXPERIMENT: Mundane to Monumental
Think of one of the most mundane or boring acts you do each day. Create a drawing of you completing, doing or participating in this boring activity. The twist, make the boring interesting, make it artful, dynamic or interesting.
EXPERIMENT: Identity in Packages
The concept of commercial packaging can be used to symbolize and parody human issues. Consider and react to the following: Today, everything is neatly packaged, including human emotions and personalities. Package an element of humanity that you think has been or could be commercialized. Collect images and objects that signify the concept and seal them inside a clear plastic bag or container. Mimic the methods of commerce and advertising. Staple cardboard to the package and indicate contents, price, instructions, etc.
EXPERIMENT: Symbolic Progression
On a sheet of paper, conceptualize an idea based on a genesis theme such as Birth of a song / Birth of an invention / Birth of a poem / Birth of an art form / Birth of a problem / Birth of an awkward moment / etc.
EXPERIMENT: Truth or Dare
Create a work that either reveals a secret truth about you / your life, or challenges you to do something challenging that you've never done before.
EXPERIMENT: Inside Out
Create a sculpture with two sides, each of which presents a different image / view. Make the sculpture symbolic or cryptic, but try to invoke psychological tension between the two disparate images. Option: make a sculpture that echoes a strong emotion, like fear, ecstasy, confusion, desolation, anger, etc.
EXPERIMENT: The Visual Pun
Make up a list of verbal puns, words with double meanings, and add them to the list below. Select a visual pun from the list and make a drawing, mixed media piece or sculpture. List: spelling bee, tree surgeon, handyman, pickled herring, home run, internal revenue, funny bone, smoked salmon, hotdog, sandwich shop, boxing match, Niagara falls, pen pal, brainstorm…
EXPERIMENT: Surreal Abstraction / Hybrids
Collage some “reconstructions” that defy logical perception. Start out by cutting out picture of ordinary objects from magazines, then manipulate them by subtracting and adding images until they become non-sense images. (e.g. an image of a chicken with a train coming out of it.) As you fantasize of new ways and new possibilities of how to change a picture, remember Dali’s words: “The stronger the displacement between images, the stronger the voltage.” Make your hybrids outrageous apparitions. The more outrageous, the better. Maybe your crazy idea could turn into a sculpture!
EXPERIMENT: I'll Do it Tomorrow
Make a mixed media work that represents something you keep putting off, something that is causing you anxiety, or something that causes you to procrastinate.
Make a mixed media piece (use photos, drawings, paintings, collages) inspired by the idea of the "grotesque". Grotesque art can induce reflection of the disorder and distortion of things in our human experience. Do you ever feel gross? What things do you consider disgusting?
EXPERIMENT: Nightmare Bed
Imagine the worst possible place to lay your head before you go to sleep. Create a surreal artwork that shows all of your worst fears coming true in the form of a nightmare bed.
EXPERIMENT: Like a Contemporary Artist
Find a contemporary art piece that inspires you, challenges you, or causes you discomfort. Use this artwork as a stimulus to create your own artwork. You can consider its aesthetics (what it looks like), its meaning (what it says) or even its medium (what it's made of).
Find a well-known artwork from today (a contemporary piece) or from history. Change the piece in order to give it a new meaning by adopting, borrowing, altering and recycling the visual elements of the piece into a new artwork (while maintaining a reference to the original).