Ideas, Concepts, Designs and Execution

DSCF0052People frequently ask me where my design inspirations come from. For shock value, I have been known to reply “Drugs and alcohol!” Not true, but the reaction, or forced non-reaction, is typically worth it.

It is a good question, though, and one that’s difficult to answer as there are a multitude of answers. I think if you’re a creative, whether it’s music, words or visuals, your mind is constantly in motion, perceiving the world around you. Evaluating the stimuli, interpreting it and filtering it through our personal realities seems to be a subconscious occurrence. Ideas can strike at inconvenient moments and they must be recorded, written or drawn immediately lest they escape. I have sketches on napkins, church bulletins (yes, I was listening to the sermon!) and on the backs of my boys’ school papers. On that note, having young children requires that I observe the world through their eyes and their filter. They demand…and demand…and demand…that I acknowledge their perspective and that’s a wonderful thing! Their minds are uncluttered and open. Mine is a neglected, over-stuffed closet full of adult matters that can impede free-thinking. It’s a true benefit to be exposed to their world view. Experiences I might gloss over or fail to see do not escape their hyper-vision.

But I digress, as I often do. The design process, for me anyway, is often initiated by a random thought or a visual interruption as I am going through my day. Since I am typically actively engaged in the design or creation process, ideas become a constant barrage, often related to the work at hand, but not always. Some are noteworthy and others are mentally deleted as unexciting.

Several years ago, I was asked, along with several other artists, if I’d be interested in receiving a 5-foot tall fiberglass horse to paint for the 20th-anniversary celebration of the Dixie Stampede dinner show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Even though I was quite busy at the time, I couldn’t resist this opportunity! All of a sudden, I found myself confronted with a large blank three-dimensional canvas. The possibilities seemed endless, but being a hippie child of the 60s, I soon settled on a psychedelic,” flower power” concept.


It was necessary to commit my ideas to paper, so I photographed the horse against a black backdrop. After printing it and making copies, I started to sketch. The initial sketches are intentionally loose and unrestricted. Typically, I will create 2 or more, working quickly to prevent myself from thinking too much, which I am prone to do. I want the raw feeling. The second drawing was the one! After deciding, I start working again on the original sketch, tightening the concept and adding detail and color. Some artists take a conceptual drawing all the way to completion…a finished artwork in its own right. My sketches serve as a take-off point. The real work begins as I transfer the concept to the full-size drawing, as is the case in my stained glass commissions, or directly drawing on the horse, in this case. The design develops more completely as it is realized in full scale on a 3D object.


Then the funDixieHorsePainting0005 begins! Selecting the actual colors to be used and diving into the actual painting process is next. As I mentioned earlier, my sketches are merely launching pads. Colors change. Objects change or are moved, rotated, tweaked in some manner to suit the ever-evolving artwork. The creation of an artwork is not a static reproduction of the initial concept; it is the synthesis of the concept and the evolution of its physical creation. Is it a heavy, intellectual process? No, it’s very intuitive for me, personally. While at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, I discovered I would never be a master draftsman, but I did have a strong affinity for color, both in theory and in application. Color is what, ultimately, led me to immerse myself in the stained glass trade for 30+ years. Stained glass is pure, unadulterated color and light! It just doesn’t get any better if you love color.
DixieHorsePainting0015So, DixieHorsePainting0018there you have it. Fifty-plus hours of painting and my flower power horse was completed. I felt lost when she left. An irreplaceable void existed in my studio.
I pined for another horse to paint…or a cow…or an aardvark. It wasn’t to be. Though, I guess there’s always hope for the future.


Next week a horse becomes a scarf!



One Response to “Ideas, Concepts, Designs and Execution”

  1. Janet Sanders says:

    I loved reading your “first” blog and hearing about your artistic abilities–you have been given a special talent! So delighted for you and your success in something you love to do! A 1971 classmate–Janet (Varnes) Sanders

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