Resolving to Make Art? Try Prompts!


HeadshotHow are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Were you hopeful to start a new project? Were you insanely hoping tackle one of those a-piece-of-art-a-day adventures? Did you get to the middle of the first week and wonder what you got yourself into?

Good news, I'm in the same boat and I have an oar. I resolved to be creative every day—at least a little bit. It couldn’t be something I was doing for work either. It could include things like: surfing the web for inspiration, picking up supplies for an upcoming project, sketching, experimenting, teaching or assisting my children in creating something, or actually making art.

I still think I'm going to run into a wall. So I was excited to re-stumble upon an article by Robin Olsen that we published in our September/October 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors (Don't you just love back issues?). The article is called “Spontaneous Combustion: Using prompts to spark design.” Robin uses her technique to make these lovely art quilts pictured throughout this newsletter, and I knew immediately upon re-reading the article, that this would be my mixed-media “oar.”


Here is the idea in a nutshell:

Brainstorm: Come up with a list of prompts that focus on your style of work. Robin uses prompts like “Appliqué something on” or “Add triangles.”

Use the Prompts: Grab a prompt. Robin cuts up her list of prompts and puts them in a basket. Use that prompt to start your project. Grab another prompt and use it to continue work on your piece. Your project might take 3 prompts, it might take 10.

Break the Rules: The purpose of the prompts is to get the creative juices flowing. If the prompt you choose gives you another idea—go with it. It's all about working spontaneously.

I'm working on my own prompt stash now. I'm going to include colors in my list as well. I also think I'll make a prompt list for getting started on a piece of work, and one for final embellishments. Robin’s list for working with prompts is a good place to start.


Robin Olsen’s Tips for Working with Prompts

  • Try doing one small piece from start to finish using prompts. Don’t give up too quickly. Some of my favorite elements came from prompts that seemed impossible at first.
  • A prompt does not have to be a dominant element in a piece. Think of ways it can be incorporated subtly, using soft colors, sheers, fine lines, or as small background details.
  • Customize your list of prompts for how you like to work. You might add mixed-media or embellishment techniques to your list. You can also customize how you use the prompts. You might want to use just one or two to get started, or you could use them only at the end of a piece to add final embellishments.

Do you think using prompts could work for you? What prompts would you use? Leave us a comment here on the blog and we'll work up a giant, collaborative list!





Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.