There is no doubt that one of the most daunting aspects of creativity for the artist is being faced with a blank page. The prospect of plucking new ideas out of thin air and arriving at an original artistic solution can be unnerving. This is why it is important to develop a knowledge base from which creative ideas can grow.
Albert Einstein said that "imagination is more important than knowledge". However, before most artists can begin to produce artwork from their imagination they need to establish the knowledge base from which they will work. The simplest starting point for this is to select a theme to investigate and develop. This can be anything that interests you, from an antique Japanese silk fan to graffiti art on train-station walls—the range of inspirational resources in the world is endless. With so much to stimulate your imagination, it is easy to become indecisive. The key is to be selective, only choosing themes that truly inspire you. Your chosen theme must continue to hold your attention while you explore its creative elements.
A good starting point in the investigative process is to form a list of words that are associated with the theme. This is known as "mind-mapping" or "brain-storming". A butterfly theme is explored (facing page) by listing the words that spring to mind while concentrating on the image, or idea, of a butterfly. The words create a number of research avenues to follow, the initial subject of a butterfly having a wealth of associations, with almost every word capable of inspiring a new investigation.
The images below show how a theme can also be investigated artistically. Notice how the butterflies have been used to create repeat patterns. The textures of their wings and the symmetrical patterns across them have been represented through painting and drawing. Colour studies have been made of many butterfly varieties. 14 The popularity of the butterfly as decoration in fashion has also been emphasized.
^ This exploration shows how a butterfly theme can be used to inspire fashion
B designers as well as the fashion illustrators who illustrate their garments.
Four studies investigating the butterfly as a theme show different media, including collage, painting, drawing and cut-outs from magazines, mounted onto handmade paper. The images demonstrate a visual exploration of the butterfly theme, revealing its diversity as a research direction.
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aeroplanes repeat pattern delicate birds fairies l.ef<
This mind-map shows a selection of words linked to a butterfly theme. A pattern of words produced in this way can inspire many ideas for fashion illustrations.
feathers symmetry kites caterpillar moths colour Pattern birds fairies wings aeroplanes repeat pattern delicate harmless mystical transformation; ugly-beautiful fantasy summer alive natural fashionable decoration
Jewellery accessories magical
The role of the imagination is as significant as that of knowledge. Once inspiration is found, research material collected and a theme established, the illustrator conceives a wealth of Imaginative ideas. This illustration has been created using a mix of traditional drawing techniques for the figure and Photoshop collage to add the butterflies.
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