Be More Curious, Make More Art
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
How does curiosity relate to art making? I think there are a number of ways, and I’d like to show you some of my paper cut journals to illustrate how you can be more curious, and make more art.
- Curious Artists Indulge in Really Seeing
For my this paper cut journal, I’ve been exploring some of the nature-based themes that have long-fascinated me: eggs and patterns in nature. I make lots of sketches in my journal about both of these topics, and when I need ideas, I page through my journals and usually find something to get me started.
Taking the time to know a thing makes it familiar to you, and therefore easier, and more fun to render. The painter Andrew Wyeth talked about how his father, and mentor, N.C. Wyeth, taught him to study his subject at length, to not just see it, but to feel it, to enter it, and to become one with it. I would venture to say this method worked out okay for Wyeth.
2. Curious Artists Spend Time Researching, Daydreaming and Planning
If you give yourself permission to indulge your curiosities – whether that’s the designs found in animal fur, leaves, or a field of wild flowers, or you are interested in old typewriters, it will make your art richer and more fun. Plus, all this “art prep time” counts as art time.
Creativity is a lot like farming, you’ve got to fertilize the ground and gather seeds before you expect to plant something and have it grow. Give yourself permission to dig into a topic that lights you up.
Go to the library, check out a book or two, and get to know it deeply. Knowing the story of the thing enriches our experience of it. Then it’s fun to make sketches and notes, play with ideas, and explore what you find in visual form. And by the way, you can do all this preparatory exploration and still work intuitively without a strict plan.
About a year ago, I read a book on bird eggs, and studied the variation in egg shapes, colors, patterns, and how incubation varies species to species. Learning so much about eggs made me feel closer to them, like they were suddenly more personal and dear to me. Feeling this way about our art makes it more meaningful, and drives you to want to make more.
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3. Curious Artists Push Their Work
When you have a hunger to explore and know something, you explore it from 7 different angles, in 3 different mediums, create it backwards and forwards, and ultimately, find your best work.
Make tiny variations, but repeat yourself. You’ll have more fun, increase your skills, and make better art.
What’s got your interest piqued? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!