thinking creatively

Sheila asked me last night in the pub how I got my ideas for sculptures and it made me think. Just got back from a few days camping and kayaking in Padstow where I managed to not think creatively at all. Wondered if it would inspire me to think once I got back.


Rob intent (on keeping warm!)


Eating out overlooking the Camel estuary

I told Sheila that I had to be relaxed to think creatively – maybe lying in bed in the morning or perhaps in the shower. It certainly isn’t by sitting down with a sketch book. Two things happen, I think. One is getting the initial idea for a three dimensional form. This might be the exploitation of the idea of repeated rib shapes found in many traditional wooden boats for instance. Secondly comes the detail where the images form in my mind and I turn them over and around to “see” what they look like.

So that first idea comes from being around things like boats (or a favourite of mine collecting seed pods, shells or pieces of flint). It includes sketching or photographing them or just gazing at them because they are on the mantel piece.

The second phase is where I create something new. I need to get away from making a copy of the first idea or object. I need to take it further into the realms of fantasy. I like mathematics so I often build some geometric logic into my work – perhaps change an angle a bit at a time or increase a length uniformly.

This small sculpture called curl began as an old wooden mast from a long forgotten boat. Initially I wondered how the mast section would look if it was curled up. First big idea.

Secondly I played with the idea in my mind until I decided to slice up the section with a band saw at varying angles. If all the angles had been the same it would have turned out to be a semi circle. So what if those angles were varied in a certain way? That idea could be drawn on paper or I could take a chance and just do it and see what happened.

I guess that when experimenting with forms a successful artist will recognise a good outcome and keep the result. Equally he will recognise a disaster and throw it in the bin. No-one gets to see an artist’s rejects and yet there will have to be some, somewhere!

Sometimes that will result in many hours of work that never gets exhibited. I may have one of those in my workshop right now.


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