New designs

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 9:58 AM

Hi Everyone,

I'm very excited about heading in a new direction. I'm starting a backpacking trip through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia tomorrow. It is for 5 weeks. When my husband first proposed this I felt that 5 weeks was too long. I'll miss my cats, my fabrics, and my sewing machine. But then I realized that area is where much of the silks come from and there are some fantastic embroideries waiting for me to bring home. Also, I'm taking a sketchbook, watercolor pencils, and a point a shoot camera to get shots of foliage, temples, etc. I'm going to try to design abstracts with the themes of Asian culture and  jungle fused together. This will be a big step for me since I can't really draw and it takes weeks for me design something. On this trip, I'm going to try to make many designs quickly and then I can modify and hone them when I get home. Do any of you have a process that you follow when you design from scratch?

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okieLinda wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 11:27 AM

Wow what a trip that will be, I bet you come up with all kinds of new ideals there, be sure and tell us all about it when you get back, I will live vicariously through you :) you might take some little paper books and pencils to give to anyone who will draw you a design and who knows what you might get :) have fun 

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Posts 56
on 16 Jun 2009 11:29 AM

I would not concentrate on trying to design anything right now, save that for when you come home and all those images are floating through your head. Right now I suggest trying to capture images, textures, details of everything that catches your eye. Think of it like taking visual notes, that you can literally draw from later for final composition(s).

Don't worry about the drawing skills at this point, use a camera. I am sure you will have time to relax on your trip too, so use those times to take out your drawing tools and make simple sketches, maybe just trying to reproduce the colors of a flower and surrounding foliage with out trying to draw the actual flower. Look at the textures or designs in a piece of fabric or architecture and try to express the essence of it without trying to reproduce it. Work on capturing the spirit of the place, because that will give the art you make later the most authenticity.

Have a great trip!!!!

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Posts 469
on 16 Jun 2009 12:54 PM

Oh, you lucky, lucky thing!! I'm so jealous... the fibers, fabrics and designs you'll see can change your life in the months and years after you return home!

My very best suggestion is to take a good digital camera with as high an optical zoom capability as you can afford (I recommend ignoring for the most part the digital zoom capability- it makes for pretty crappy renderings of your subjects), and a good tight macro setting as well and document everything you find interesting.Get close in on your subjects, be they patterns in fabrics or tall grasses in the sun or the faces of the locals you meet. These tight shots are fabulous for using later as design inspirations.

You will either need to a way to offload those images occasionally, or have a few back-up memory cards with you. The camera I use is a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS and I LOVE it... you don't need expert photography skills to take fabulous photos.

These kinds of images are, for me, quite often a launching pad for so many projects, from painting to stamp carving to sketching.

- Judi

My Blog   My Art


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cousette wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 1:34 PM

I think travelling and getting to know new places, people, habits,cultures is the most important thing we can do to open our minds and learn relativity. Enjoy your trip without any planned idea, just open yourself to a new environnment,and with all your senses, not only your sight : feel,touch, hear, smell and taste ! Discover traditionnal handicraft, fabrics, embroideries, but also music, cooking, plants,animals, people...etc., All that chemistry will appeal to you in a conscious and unconscious way and will fill up your mind and build your souvenirs...Little by little, after you come back, you will see what's coming out ! Maybe it'll take some time before you create something from your memories,or you'll see your usual surroundings with new eyes ! This will give you a rich live experience in any case, so enjoy it., take photos,buy typical products,don't feel obliged to draw,.and let us know !

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 2:08 PM


thanks for the response. Good advice. You are correct in that senses other than sight can lead to compositions and some of it will be from my subconscious. I'll try to keep in touch but I will probably get limited time at Internet cafes.

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 2:11 PM


thanks for the response. I like the advice of reproducing the colors. I once did an exercise on a photo of a bouquet of flowers. The goal was to estimate the percentage of each color in the photo and then create a study using squares and rectangles of those colors in the percentage they appear in the photo. It led to a very interesting composition that had nothing to do with flowers but was very attractive because they were natural colors in a natural proportion to each other. 

I'm also going to take lots of visual notes of details and will try to summarize them each night.
Thanks again.

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 2:13 PM

Approachable Art,

My husband has a high quality camera and he is taking photos to remember the trip by. My camera is just a point and shoot (digital) and I'm using it to gather images for art later on. I'll stick them in photoshop and manipulate them, use parts of them, etc. to create art quilts. I'm very excited about the fabrics and fibers I'll see. I left room in my backpack for a bunch. I'm looking forward to the challenge of designing the quilts. There are so many ways I can take it.... realistic, stylized, abstract, etc. TIme will tell which way it takes me.

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 2:17 PM

I'm taking a bunch of 1 1/2 inchies that I made and I will give them away to people I make purchases from. I like the idea of asking them to draw a design. That will be fun. I suspect I will be on idea overload when I get back and I'll have to focus on only some of the ideas. I'll share what I find when I return.

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Posts 350
on 16 Jun 2009 2:47 PM

Ms spirit2sew,

I can't draw worth anything at all. I think you have the right idea though.  I might sugges that you also bring along some glue and pins so you can just stick in some samples that give you inspiration.  Some my best designs come from things that already exist.  Just enjoy yourself and try to capture whatever you can so you can come back and use it in your art.  If you get samples - all the better.  I have some awful sketches that just give me a general idea of what I want to do later on - while I still remember.  A few minutes later, the thought is lost because I am on to something else. The sketch does not have to be elaborate. It just has to be enough so I remember what I want to do later on. Since I really suck in the drawing department, I will add arrows, words, and color to supplement.  The real sketch is drawn in my mind.  I am good at the visualizing.  Sometimes the most simple visual will trigger what I need to remember.  I am sure that you will bring home plenty of colors, textures, patterns, and fabrics that you can use in your designs.  Have a wonderful trip.  One of the best trips I ever had was backpacking in Alaska.

Belinda aka crazyartgirl


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Posts 118
on 16 Jun 2009 3:19 PM

How wonderfully exciting!!  As Judy has said I dont think you will want to try to put a solid design together untill your back home. with the sketchbook and watercolor pencils I would just keep fast sketches of any and all things that capture your eye. Colors and texture especially. Cameras are an must! Take notes. lots of notes that put forth the feelings your getting from something that inspires you. That will make it much easier to remember just what it was you were thinking at the time.  I think your idea of quick designs is a good one, and with notes all over the page to help in the modifying when your at home.  Enjoy yourself!! I look forward to seeing what you come up with when your back.

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 4:11 PM


Thanks for taking the time to respond. I've been reading a tour book about the places we want to see and I think that I"ll be able to immerse myself during the 5 weeks. I think it will be important for me to add words as you suggest so that I know what my intent was when I did the sketch. I'll try to add words not only about structure of the design, but words that express emotions to capture in the final piece. I'll be in touch a little during the trip, but will share more when I get back home.

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reginabdunn wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 4:13 PM


your idea of notes to get the feeling is important. I haven't really done that before. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Muppin wrote
on 17 Jun 2009 6:21 AM

How exciting for you and your trip!  When I travel, I sketch little drawings and take lots of photos, and the drawings sometimes have nothing to do with the area I am visiting, so be prepared for that to happen too.  I was in Alaska once, and drew lots of fairies while there.  What "fairies" had to do with "Alaska" I have no idea!  :)  

I can't wait to see how it all turns out when you are back.


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Posts 100
on 5 Jul 2009 4:55 PM

It looks like I'm responding way too late... you are already there. But my best advice is to take a camera and capture as much as you can that way. If you have to move fast, the camera is a better option than the sketchbook. Hope you have a blast!

Susan Brubaker Knapp
Mooresville NC 28115

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