Okay, I know you might be getting anxious or excited, or hopefully curious about what text I matched/created for each completed mat. Let me tell you, it has not been easy. Have I told you that I find commissioned work difficult? Well I do. I somehow end up being stumped by the confines color schemes and swatches and dimensions thrust upon my creative process. Yes I have the freedom here to create whatever I want, but in the back of my mind is that defining checklist that someone will mark off when I finally reveal the completed project.
I didn’t think for a long time that I had a “process” for creating, but when I think truthfully about my art – there is a definite process. And unfortunately in most cases, that process includes failure…lots and lots of failure. (LOTS of heavy sighing with high volume explicatives that only my cats can hear!!!) Calligraphers are trained to be perfect, truly perfect. We spend hours, weeks, months, years and years and more years practicing letters until they are perfect. Loads of paper covered with ink scratches and smeared lines and poorly written letter forms – with the goal of somehow being creative and expressing your own style. I find it ironic that by practicing perfection we seek to release our own creativity – doesn’t THAT sound strange. I realized many years ago that I would never reach perfection…duh! And in realizing I would not be perfect, I was free to create MY art MY way in MY own style. I have a favorite quote (among the thousands I have)…
To live the creative life, we must first lose our fear of being wrong
Once I lost that fear, my style and unique concept emerged. It took a lot of self-doubt and fear, and overcoming what people think calligraphy is supposed to look like (perfect lettering in neat rows!) THAT is definitely not my art. When I combined my lettering with my paper mat, wahla!
So how does all this relate to the OBT 2nd floor piece? I had to fail REALLY badly to reach the final product. I worked for many hours on an idea I had for the piece. I wanted something positive and enthusiastic that everyone would enjoy as they walked down the hall. I worked on a specific piece and reached the very end. I had the piece on my drafting table with the mat on top so I could see what else it might need. My creative process does not include working the pieces on drafting paper or with a definitive design, then execute that design. I am more of an extemporaneous designer. I plan out each element as I see how the previous portion finished…which is also a VERY risky process. And in this case, it bit me right in the fanny!!!!! I added what I thought would be the final element, and it completely ruined it…ugh (explicative!) It was the wrong color, the wrong shape, and all over wrong…
All that time, all that effort, all that work – and it ended up in my drawer of rough drafts, never to see the light of day. I then spent a couple of hours trying to recapture what I created without that final misstep, to only fail again and again and again. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity? I was going insane. Time to stop. So I regrouped.
When you fail and nothing seems to be going right, what do you do? You either have a way you work it out OR you ignore it a pretend you never fail…stop the insanity!?! Admit the failure, admit defeat and move on. Sometimes the best pieces are the ones that end up in my rough draft drawer. The idea has been executed, and literally needs to be executed – killed – put out of its misery and forgotten. BUT….and there is ALWAYS a but, the implementation of that idea moved me forward to the NEXT idea, which may be a completely different idea. Isn’t that amazing!!!! Who would have guessed that when I was sitting down to implement the original great idea, it would be a huge stinker, and bomb, a dud – but would lead me through defeat to completion of a BETTER idea. All that time and work at first feels like a huge waste – hence the explicatives! When I calm down and give myself some distance, the end result is worth the failure. I couldn’t always see that, I didn’t understand my creative process, but now I have confidence that the project will get completed AND I will be proud to call it my work.
Okay, for the OBT 2nd floor piece, I ended up doing a completely different quote, color scheme, and overall design. And no, I will not show the failure here – why kill an already dead horse? (I use glue in my work, I don’t need to beat the horse to make my own!) I am VERY pleased with the final result and will be proud to pass it in the hall of OBT.
I used a dark charcoal piece of Fabriano paper, paint brush pens, glitter gel pens and microtip liners. I used metallic ink and an old paint brush to create the highlights on the main words Let Us Pray. I went over it and over it with metallic ink until I was satisfied that it would stand out at a distance. I then used small tip gel pens to create the smaller texts on the tops and sides. It is a much more graphic looking piece than I originally intended to create, but I like it. I’m proud of it, and I hope that it will make people think about prayer when they pass it each day. The main text is from a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, then I added a quote at the top and bottom by different people on the same topic.
I have inserted a shot below so you can see a rough photo taken while I was standing on a chair in my studio. I have sent a copy of this photo to the interior designer with the overall dimensions (30″ x 30″) …. The plan it to begin hanging the art in OBT the week of September 30th…time to pack it and ship it off. Stop by and enjoy it in person and let me know your thoughts.
I think it is a true example of beauty through failure!