Stages of the Art Process

My newest art piece, Buttoned Up & Hanging On, has been accepted in the Art Council of Southwestern Indiana Art Noir 2022 show. I’m pretty excited because even though my art was in several shows last year, this is the first juried show! That means it was accepted, while some others weren’t.

I thought it might be interesting to document and show you my art process.

Sue Bleiweiss calls them the 7 stages of art. I didn’t realize I followed them until I read this post. So here we go. I’m hoping this might help and/or inspire any of you out there who aren’t happy with your work.

Let’s get started.

Stage 1- Inspiration and Brainstorming

This is where it all begins. This is where you brainstorm your design, and ideally put it down on paper. Here is my last sketch of this piece.  I often feel that I’m just hanging on, so I wanted this piece to show that. Originally I thought the blocks would be all individual pieces, and would be hung together by thread. As you can see, my final piece does not look like this!

Now I needed to pick the colors. Well, because it was a black and white show, my palette was limited. I just needed to decide what kind of black and white fabrics I was going to use. I decided to print on the black and white fabric with my thermofax screens.

While brainstorming I decided that since I’ve been called Buttoned Up and feel like I still am that type of person, I wanted to represent that in my piece with buttons. Now to go through all of my black and white buttons. The chains would come at a later time.

Now that I’ve got the design sketched and the supplies picked out, it’s time to move to the next stage.

Stage 2 – Making

This is where I’m actually constructing the piece, and an exciting time. This is where my design board comes into play. I constructed some of the components and then placed them to see what I thought.

Maybe I need more circles.

Since we are going with buttons let’s add some to the circles, and not center the flowered piece.

No, that doesn’t work. Let’s try just circles. All I could think was Blah!

Stage 3. Doubt

This is the time in the process in the past where I stopped. I would put the piece in the unfinished pile and walk away. I just didn’t like how it was going. I loved that flowered piece, but my focus in my art is to use my fabric, not commercial so it needed to go. Maybe I just need to give up. What was I going to replace that piece with? And this sketch was a good idea, but how in the heck was I going to hang all of this stuff together? Could I pull it off? And what was I doing entering a juried show? Who do I think I am? Then I realized that’s where I was – in the doubt stage, and it was time to press on.

Stage 4. Evaluation

The elements of this piece hung on my design board for quite some time. I’d periodically rearrange them, but first I knew I needed to get rid of the flowered commercial fabric.

I replaced it with my black printed fabric and auditioned the circles. I also decided on the chains connecting the pieces so I made a couple samples and hung with this piece.

Nope. The circles didn’t work. Somethings still wasn’t right. Also, I had to decide how I was going to hang it, and I needed to add to the top strip of black printed fabric to breakup that white printed piece.

NO! The circles don’t work with the square piece. Let’s try the squares only.

The squares were fine, but the black printed fabric was too busy. There was no place to rest the viewer’s eyes. So I got out my plain black fabric. That was it. Now I was excited again, but still lots to do.

Stage 5 – Refinement

Now that I was happy with my design, it was time to finalize.  I decided that instead of cutting those six pieces and connecting them to the large black piece by chain, I’d sew the black piece to them so they would be stabilized. I added the chain to the one piece hanging (representing me) and connected it to the black piece. That also helped to stabilize that lone strip.

Stage 6 – Completion

This is where the piece is pretty much complete. It’s a time to add any final touches. I ended up adding more buttons to the lone strip so it would hang straight. As Sue says, in this stage you will either be happy with the piece that it looks like you envisioned, or you may still like it even though it is not what was in that sketchbook. Or you might feel it fell short of your vision. I was really happy with how it turned out. And here is the finished piece again.

But wait! There is one more stage.

Stage 7 – Critique

Sue says this is one of the most important ones, and one a lot of artists (and I’m one of them) skip. This is the time to step back and look at your work and ask yourself questions. What worked? What didn’t? What would I change? What if I added those circles? What if?? Check out Jane Dunnewold’s Critique Checklist you can download here.

The whole thought process brings us to working in series. I love this piece, but maybe I could make a better piece. If I make a couple more pieces in black and white, that would push me in to making something even better.

I really enjoyed working in black and white. That was one less decision I had to make. It took me back to my love of photography,  when I loved shooting and developing my black and white pictures. It was also really interesting to see that my stages fit in with the ones Sue had lined out in her post. Thanks to Sue for the clear outline of these stages.

I’d love to hear your experiences with these stages. Have you ever stopped at doubt?  As always, thanks for taking the time to stoop by.