restraint & constraint(s)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bold Floral collage, ink & paint on kraft board - Susan Black - giclee prints available here

Sometimes I ask creatives to tell me about projects that were especially difficult to execute. While the outcomes may vary, the beginnings of these nightmare projects share a common theme: the person felt especially free.

It turns out constraints – whether they are deadlines, budgets or highly specific creative briefs – help us manage our energy and execute ideas. While our creative side intuitively seeks freedom and openness – blue sky projects – our productivity desperately requires restrictions.

Scott Belsky - from his book Making Ideas Happen

So the new project I'm working on falls under the umbrella title of "art-full" the customer coined that term and I love it. The collection of work is to be artful, inspirational & aspirational. Shut Up !! I couldn't be more thrilled with the "idea"(note the word idea in quotations means still way up there in that unconstrained big, blue, creative sky). This new work is based in feeling & style on my previous botanical collage work (which incidentally is work that I created for myself, for fun and as I mentioned in my Land of Trust post came together really by accident - as if I somehow drank some creative meditative potion and madly began cutting little pieces of paper, glueing lots of bits and then drawing only to awake from my spell to see the final piece not having any clear memory of how I actually arrived at the end – or at least that's how it feels to me. Now that I've been given the task of recreating similar work on purpose ... well, yikes !! to say the least.

I've had weeks to think about this new project, to sketch and make notes. The customer & I have had 2 fantastic conference calls and we've managed to narrow the scope and add the constraints  necessary for me to be able to try and land myself back on earth and out of the clouds and that vast big blue sky.

so ... constraints √

All spring & summer I've been busy doing other projects which I feel have had a much more commercial, less artful style. Work I also love - typographic, inspirational & also aspirational, I hope, but a little less artful than my botanical collages & a lot more premeditated than that body of work (it actually is a body by now of near 20 pieces) that I've created with that botanical/collage theme. All these past months while plugging away at the other projects and long before I knew this big fabulous, dream project would land on my desk I've been thinking about what my knew incarnation of botanical collages (or just collages & drawing) would look like, be like ... & the one thing I kept coming up with - is wanting to show some restraint. To leave negative space, I wondered how could I intentionally simplify my work, have it be spare, bare even in areas. I'm never sure how the work (like the piece above) gets so busy & full & loud & crazy & bold -because I never mean for them to end up that way. It's the work of that darn old potion I've been drinking. I need to concoct a new creative potion. I want a new potion - a potion labeled restraint.

so ... restraint (in composition, palette & execution) is my new creative goal & I'm still workin' on that one ;-)


  1. Susan,
    Your post made me think of Coco Chanel's quote:
    "Always remove one thing before you leave the house. Less is more."

  2. ;-)

    & Kitty I'm working on the "less is more" think I need to remove a few things ... xo S + Gang

  3. Here's an idea Susan, If it's negative space you'd like to honor, start there first. Develop some compositions based on exquisite negative spaces and go from there!

  4. merci Sweet Marie ! excellent advice xoxo Susan

  5. Negative space ... hmmmm ...

    How about a polar bear in a blinding snow storm ? ;-)

  6. ba dum dum !

    Sybil LOL to you my dear
    thanks for all the comments
    xoxo S + Gang

  7. I really love your botanical giclee prints, they are beautiful!
    xoxoxo ♡


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