As one who often finds the spark of inspiration from staring at zillions of photos, maintains a mountain of old magazines, and is up to her ears in ephemera, I read something the other day that resonated with me:
“What I have not drawn, I have never really seen.”
Frederick Franck, The Zen of Seeing
I find this to be spot on. I love to come up with ideas for drawings to be made into stamps, and scribble ’em down in my sketchbook furiously. To help hone my concept, I devise field trips and tour gardens and take walks in the wilderness, sketchbook and pencil and iPhone in hand. Sometimes I go to the fabric store and touch the fabrics, or to the garden center to spy the new hybrid plants. I read through collections of poetry and quotes and listen to music, fixating on the lettering from an album cover.
My initial idea is floating around and tingling. I feel as if it’s taking shape. Then I leaf through more visual references: photos, magazines, old books. I research what other artists have done on similar topics (old masters and modern tastemakers alike), and search Instagram hashtags to peek at the latest shots. I surround my eyes and my whole being with so many sources of inspiration, I sometimes feel that I might burst if I don’t get to start working on my own creation!
What’s kind of odd, though, is that even though I’m supersaturated with visual stimulation on the topic, and have jotted down thoughts on my idea from every which way, It isn’t until I start sketching my very own piece that I really begin to see what it’s going to be.
So, while all of that looking serves to set my creative juices on fire, I must look and draw and interpret and whittle and erase and look some more, and draw some more, and repeat until it’s really late at night—and Marcy, you really should have been in bed by now—until I have truly seen what the drawing is supposed to be. I KNOW the image. I FEEL the image. And once I’ve drawn it, and gotten it all inside me, I could probably draw that image a second, third, or fourth time with my eyes closed.
But who would want to, when it’s so fun to look?
The takeaway is that to draw something, for me, is to REALLY see it. And I so enjoy the entire process. I wonder sometimes if, after you’ve stamped my images a few times, and spent time coloring, shading, embossing, and fussy-cutting them, do you begin to “see” the image as I do? I hope you feel a closeness, or a connection, to the artwork. I sure put my heart into each one. And it really shows that you all do the same with your papercrafting creations. :)
Next Wednesday, I’ll share a sketch that most recently kept me rapt for many-an-hour, and it all came together in a totally different way than it began. It’s going to be one of the images for our July release, and I sure hope to see you back here!
Thanks for coming by, I’m off to the playground with my kids. Wonder what will spark my imagination today...