From Concept to Art – The Beginning of a Journey

Each year, 40 North – the arts council for Champaign county, orchestrates the Bonyard Arts Festival throughout Champaign-Urbana, IL and the rest of the county. I am registered with 2 different venues (more details at the bottom of this entry) and have set to work creating artwork for this festival.


It is hard to say where concepts originate and as this is a work is progress, it is hard to say where it will end up. This is where making use of a sketch or art diary is quite helpful. There have been a variety of ideas and images floating through my mind, as well as personal conflicts and issues that I’ve had to deal with (or in some cases, will likely never cease wrestling with) that all influence each other and as well as my art. So, as it currently sits, these are some of the keys concepts influencing my art – a window into the inner workings of my mind, if you will:

  • The Mind Itself. While I have always had an interest in psychology and how the mind works, the more I learn, the more fascinated I become with it. I have a BA in Anthropology, but while I was in college I also took some courses in cognitive psychology and a course in cognitive anthropology in my final year that I keep looking back on. I saved all of my notes/recorded lectures/books. I’ve been re-reading some of those books for fun. It’s amazing how much more sense they make when I’m not trying to scan for class content or cram dozens of pages in overnight. I actually have time to take it in now.
  • Domestic Violence. Both as I read articles online and as shadows of my past run amok in the recesses of my head. Experiences I had as a child are part of who I am as a person today. Memories have given me many nightmares. They color the lens with which I see every romantic relationship. It is not that I choose to wallow in painful events or that I haven’t been able to let go, but that I accept it as part of my composition as much as I do the schools I went to or the communities I grew up in.
  • Human Anatomy and Biology. I’ve been watching a lot of House this month. It is one of my favorite shows of all time and I’ve only this past week gotten to watch the 8th and final season.

    The wound man was a figure from medieval medical books depicting various battle injuries. I’ve actually been intrigued by this since my high school days. Image from Retronaut.

    S0, I’m kind of keen on x-rays and MRI scans for their aesthetic value as well as various organs. I’ve always been a fan of eyes and anatomic hearts. However, beyond that, I am also interested in their functions – both biologically and symbolically. While we know it is not scientifically accurate today, I kind of find some old medical texts and ideas to be interesting – things like the balancing of the humors or the different functions and attributes placed upon various organs.


2013 Boneyard Details – At C4A I am set to display artwork during April 12-13 and at Habitat for Humanity I am set to conduct a live demonstration on April 13, from 1-5pm, on artistic things that can be done with used clothing.

Reality: Ideas Come Faster Than Production

For all the ideas I have and the want to work on these myriad projects I have, it always seems that I’m just never able to get as many things accomplished as I’d like to. I see all of these gorgeous patterns in books and online (I recently obtained a copy of Austentatious Crochet by Melissa Horozewski as a birthday gift) and want to make them. But then, I have all of these original ideas I want to produce – and the energy and general impact I feel when I am around my brilliant artists friends makes me feel as though my time would be better spent creating original masterpieces, and this sometimes makes me feel guilty for constructing anything, gorgeous as it is, that follows a pattern.

The truth is, I can imagine all of these wonderful ideas much faster than I can actually create them. This is why I have started using an Idea Book or Craft Journal. A friend of mine gave me this mostly blank sketch pad that she wasn’t using. After it sat on my shelf for awhile, I finally pulled it out one evening to try to sort out some thoughts that had been swirling through my head. It is worth noting that while art is indeed very therapeutic and can be a way to work through your problems and express yourself, I have found that textile arts just don’t lend themselves as easily to the rush of passion or the chaos of plunging into inner turmoil/ depression… and I can’t paint or draw for beans. The Idea Book is nice because, like a journal, it allows me to work through any issues I may be having in life.. but using it as a medium for artistic design, I am also able to sketch, doodle, play with color schemes and tack swatches of fabric or yarn into the book as well.

As well as not letting me forget ideas, the Idea Book also allows me to process emotions...

The possibilities are really endless. In the current digital world, it’s a nice reprieve to shut everything down and just let the pen flow how it wants to.

Eventually, I will get around to making all of these things that I want to, and perhaps, these ideas will evolve into something better by the time I get around to them. Something I have had to make myself accept: There is no shame in working at your own pace. Just because I see this friend or some other person seeming to crank out dozens of items in a week, does not mean that I have to. We all have different demands on our lives – work, relationships, other hobbies, etc. Creating art is an individual experience and should never become more of a burden than a joy.