guiding principles

I’ve recently begun to follow Terry Grant’s blog and her latest post on guiding principles had me covered in guilty blushes as I read it because I was saying things to myself like “I don’t really do that” and “Oh yeah, I always forget that one”.  Then I thought, OMG, she’s had a look at my blog and thinks, “How sad, this lady is obviously in great need of guiding principles. I must write a post as a warning to others against such shoddy and slipshod workmanship!”  Whatever her reason for writing it, the post served its purpose and I’m determined to use guiding principles more often, until they become second nature. Thanks Terry!

Here are Terry’s principles and my lighthearted responses.

Composition is the first and most important element. Once you are well into a piece it is hard to change the composition. Spend the time at the beginning to work it out and save yourself some grief later. Composition, composition, composition. — OK Terry, I do that all the time. Well, most of the time. OK then, some of the time. 

Color is important, value is even more important. Exciting art has deep darks and sparkling lights. Too often we are bogged down in the middle tones and that is the way to boring work. — Hmmm. Got me there. I have problems with colour combinations but I’m working on it.

Be true to your materials. Fabric art should look like fabric. Paint should look like paint. Paper should look like paper, etc. etc.  Fabric cannot do all that paint can do. Paint cannot do what fabric does. Let the materials speak and listen. — Always, but it’s good to experiment, yes?

Doing more is usually not the answer. Less is more. Simple is good. No amount of paint, glitz, buttons, beads, embroidery will fix a bad design. Embellishment should be part of a plan, not a band-aid. — I agree entirely, so why I can’t I always put it into practice?!

Know your strengths and work with them. Just because other people love to make grand, immense work, doesn’t mean I have to. Smaller and more focused is my place of greater strength. Large is not my best way of working. — I try to do this but I flounder a lot of the time.

Be authentic. Let your own style evolve by paying attention to what works best for you, what feels most honest and the feedback you get from trusted colleagues. Being inspired by the work of others helps you define yourself, but copying others just masks your own voice. Know the difference. — Sometimes it’s easier not to be authentic, especially if you haven’t developed a style of your own, don’t have trusted colleagues and don’t get feedback from a wide enough audience.

Filter what you hear from others. Advice is nice, but consider the source. Praise is lovely, but realize that most of your friends tell you what you want to hear. Questions are often more illuminating than answers. — See previous response.

Don’t let the work become too precious. Always be willing to throw something away that isn’t working. Or cut it up. Or give to the cat to sleep on. Some things are just practice. Not everything needs to see the light of day. But before you do any of these things analyze it and learn from it. — If I had a cat, it would have suffocated long ago under the weight of things that didn’t work.

Base your analysis in sound practice. Go back to the elements and principles of design and ignore the theories of the proponents of “winging it.” — I quite like winging it actually so that’s probably where I’m going wrong….

Don’t be lazy. “Good enough” is lazy if you can work a little harder and actually make it better. Do it right. — Guilty as charged, m’lud.

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