Having Ideas


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Having Ideas

Ideas for art start as tiny notions, as little specks of gold amongst the sand.

Most of us don't hear the ideas we have. We let them drift away unremembered

Hearing your own ideas

When you see an amazing artwork do you think the idea came to the artist like a hurricane in the night? Or was it just a little hint? A tiny notion? Sometimes an idea comes almost complete but often that amazing idea started off pretty small.

An artist can work from an idea that is just a tickle, a whisper. You have to listen pretty carefully to your own ideas to hear them.

Maybe it’s as small as this: an attempt to capture something dynamic in a line, using width and weight.

red lines

A first sketch after an idea: the energy created with nothing other than lines of varying widths.


Or a combination of colours seen in a certain light.

Or light falling on a bright yellow curtain.

yellow curtain

Maybe the light falling on the curtain and the light coming in from behind trigger something off. An initial idea can be a tiny notion.

But is that really an artwork you ask? No not yet, its just the hint, the trigger.

A thought you had during the day, something you noticed on the way to work, a piece of rusty metal wire looped into a funny shape.

Any small thought can be the germ of a good idea. Just let your mind float along with the idea, taking twists and turns, letting it go where it wants.

You start by opening up, letting ideas in. You don’t limit yourself. Don't censor your thoughts or judge their quality as you have them. Use these germ ideas, these seeds to build up ideas that will become your artworks.

Open your mind and let yourself hear your own ideas :

Tap into your creativity and let yourself think crazy thoughts.

I found a little section of an animal skull on the footpath at the base of a tree. When I pushed around the dirt with my foot I found a section of jaw. I took them home and kept looking at them. [Yes I am disgusting and do this kind of thing fairly often.] I washed the mud off and when they dried they were fairly clean and bleached. Old. Maybe they were from a cat? They looked about that size.

stone teeth photo

After a couple of days I made a little stack of round pebbles and placed the jaw bone on top. Now it looked like a little offering. I have a bit of a thing for creepy movies, voodoo etc and I also love ancient artefacts. So although I wasn't sure where it was heading I was finding this little pile of objects quite a potent trigger. I'm not sure where this artwork is leading; at the moment I am just listening to my thoughts and jotting down snippets. It's that simple.

stoneteeth stoneteeth

I also took a photo with my favourite sketchy app, left and painted them, right.

casting teeth

Next I cast them in wax, by pressing them into clay and pouring in wax.


Above left, the teeth on the left in pink and white wax and in the right image cast in only white which is more effective I think. Act and re-act. This is how you make art. Continue going in the direction of the more successful pieces.


After casting the teeth I started casting other bones I had collected.

Just play with your idea. Even if it never turns into a major artwork, you'll have a fun.


'Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite -- getting something down.'

Julia Cameron


Play is really important

Making art is like an adventure or an experiment. I often play when I am in between big projects. I experiment in an open ended fashion, with new mediums, and try out different ideas. These projects, these experiments, sometimes don't work. And that is ok. Because quite often there is an element I really like, just a tiny element that I can re-use. And if there is something I really don't like going on, for example if I think a drawing looks really stiff, then I react against it, and try to bring some looseness into my work. Acting and reacting is what art making is.


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