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Fill! Your! Pages!

Peyton Farnum, Creative Team Member

July 15, 2021

Finishing something you worked really hard on might just be one of the best feelings in the world. But what makes this accomplishment feel even more fulfilling? When you planned every step of the way!

As an artist with a constant myriad of ideas for projects, carrying out said projects can be more chaotic and disorganized than necessary. I found that sometimes the process of one piece would be mixed up with the potential ideas for another, which made it difficult for me to stay focused. Luckily, I find solace in utilizing the empty pages of my sketchbook and my desire for aesthetic organization. To create more clarity, I started designing pages dedicated to sorting out my ideas for all of my projects. These helped me keep track of the goals I had for my work, such as subject, messages/themes, inspirations and stylistic choices.



Here are two of my pieces and their planning pages from a past portfolio about endangered species of wildlife. I began with choosing the animals I wanted to focus on and researching them. (Sometimes these choices came with inspiration from other media, such as books!) For these pieces, I chose the Chinese pangolin and the okapi. I completed studies of their forms and colors in the wild and assessed how I wanted to convey them in my work, leading up to thumbnails and design ideas for the final. Alongside these studies came aesthetic and technical decisions such as color schemes and mediums. In my pangolin piece sketches, I noticed that the pangolins' rigid scales fit together like a puzzle, allowing me to visualize a piece that focused less on depth and more on positive and negative shapes. I decided to try out printmaking to best convey the species stylistically and along came a design that resembled a maze around the animal. This was a great experiment for me and I fell in love with printmaking.



In my okapi piece, I worked from a base idea of a scene in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible in which one of the characters meets an okapi in a jungle. The scene is treated as a sacred and mysterious moment that I felt captured the alluring nature of the okapi–it quickly became one of my favorite scenes in the story. While making my planning page, I decided to take it a step further in my own ideas and create the appearance of an okapi that was more grand and fictional to add to the mythicality of the work. I realized with the dense jungle background that I would need a medium that would be good to layer with. That’s how I arrived at my watercolor conclusion, which was further solidified after I did some color swatches with them on my planning page. The myriad of blues and greens really caught my eye and I ended up using them in the final. Needless to say, having a few pages to just jot or doodle down ideas led me down so many avenues of possibility! I don’t think my completed pieces would have developed to their full potential without them.

Although I won’t discredit the excitement that spontaneity brings, I will admit that these planning pages have helped me immensely as an artist. Some of my most successful pieces began with me jotting down simple ideas, followed by filling the page around them and watching them grow into the final projects.

Planning doesn’t have to be monotonous or boring, it is only meant to help you! Make it a fun part of the project. Decorate with color, doodles, collage elements, medium experiments, subjects studies, literally anything! Just discover your own method of creating organized chaos and fill your pages.

TLDR; no matter what kind of creative you are, you may benefit from filling your lists or sketchbook pages as much as you can. Write/draw/make note of everything that comes to your head. You never know what may inspire you or take your projects to the next level of amazingness and originality!

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