My recent big creative project has been the painting of an Adirondack rocking chair. It will be displayed somewhere for a month and then, in May, will be auctioned off in a painted chair Fundraiser for the Talbot County Humane Society here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, USA.
The only stipulations for the artists’ designs was that they incorporate an animal and they be sealed. These Adirondack rockers have plenty of surface area to show off the work. And there are so many flat surfaces that one could be overwhelmed with choices.
In my recent post on creativity and flow , I cited the research contribution of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to the better understanding of our creative process. As I stick my creative neck further out and took on this rocking chair project, I noticed there is a rhythm to my creative process unfolding which involved five steps (Creativity, 1996, p.79) .
Preparation – Where one becomes immersed in problematic issues that are interesting and arouse curiosity.
My name was offered by a friend to her friend. She thought well enough of me to feel confident I could do this. Wow. Whoa. I had some experience painted furniture for my shop Bally Eden but nothing decoratively extensive and not in a long time. This was a great big challenge. Coming from a pretty awesome creative Holiday season though, I suspected I could pull it off.
Incubation – ideas churn around below the threshold of consciousness.
I’ve had an urge to play with simple white lines on wood and a modern feminine color palette. I took inspiration from some Alphonse Maria Mucha prints. I love Art Nouveau design and wanted simple inspiration. I also wanted to keep the natural wood element as much as possible and only add white and copper. And I wanted to do some decoupage. Just that simple.
Insight – the “Aha!” moment when the puzzle starts to fall together.
Next came the sketch. I stole from several pictures. From Art Nouveau, I chose a poppy floral design, the tree with a river, and the circle motif taken from Mucha’s repeated use of circles around women’s heads. A picture of white wall panels with gold trim detail in a French apartment reminded me of the French Provincial white and gold bedroom furniture that used to be so popular and it all made sense to me. I printed a black and white picture of the chair on which to do the sketch.
Evaluation – deciding if the insight is valuable and worth pursuing.
I used chalk to sketch my design on the chair. It looked great. There was nothing about the idea I didn’t like. I did a little practice painting, both with the copper and the white lines and my mystery animal. And grabbed the old sheet music for the tree’s leaves.
Elaboration – translating the insight into its final work.
Bothered by the sloppiness of my freehand painting and, thanks to my husbands’ brainstorm, I sanded my first lines off and used painters tape and an exacto knife to carve out my line stencils where they were to go. I even sealed them with glaze in case they wanted to seep. And then the one coat of creamy white and my lines were complete. Peeled that tape off to reveal what I really wanted. Crisp pretty lines.
I set up the photo shot of the table with all my supplies because I couldn’t believe how much stuff I’d dragged in and onto the garage table by the end. All I need to do now is polyurethane the piece and I can let it go to the auction. I’ll show you pictures of the chair soon. It’ll probably get delivered this Thursday. And then on to other big projects I already have up my sleeve .