Earlier this week we talked about pushing your art, knowing when it’s time to stop perfecting it. But there is another side to that coin … knowing when to push it a little farther.
Being able to discern whether you’ve added to or worked out a design enough can be difficult, and it’s not something someone can readily teach you. It takes practice and mindful awareness of your process. So how do you know when to take your work a step or two further?
Well, here is an example. Fiona Abel-Smith created this image using a polymer technique first explored by Sue Heaser. It’s based off a mineral mosaic like technique called pietra dura. Fiona starts out with the first image, inlaying clay. Pretty nice as is, right? But then she adds little bits of clay in a painterly manner and the image goes from just nice to quite impressive.
The depth and dimension the bits of clay add takes it from great craft work to rich illustration. The texture gives it a liveliness it just didn’t have before.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I kind of like the one on the left better or at least as much.” In truth, the pietra dura is not better, it’s simply a different kind of piece. That is partly why knowing if you have taken it far enough is so hard to determine. So, when working on a piece, there are a couple questions you need to ask yourself. “What do I want this piece to be?” or “What is the purpose of this piece?” and then ask yourself, “Is there anything else I might do with this to accomplish what I am after?”
If you are unsure, you can add to and reaarange your work or try ideas out on a scrap piece before answering that last question. Playing with options is part of the process and certainly part of the fun. Just don’t ‘give up’ on a piece that you sense could be taken farther for what you want it to be. Push it a little, see what you discover. You can always go back if you don’t like what happens when you take it a step further.
And speaking of Sue Heaser, she’s already well-known for her many books on polymer and other crafts … she’s just recently released her first eBook, Polymer Clay Jewellery for Beginners: Book 1 – Millefiori Canes and it’s only $5. It’s a very clear and well laid out book for those who haven’t yet explored Millefiori and for those who teach, it can be a great tool to recommend to students for preparation before they come to your class so you don’t waste precious time getting them up to speed on basics.