slow art experiment

This slow art experiment was again inspired by The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman. He suggests in his book to work on a creative piece for one week by adding only one element each day.

I decided to try this on a wood block that I had worked on but didn’t like. Here’s how it went:

Day 1/Monday – Thought about what to work on, how to get started. Decided to rework a previously worked on wood block. (no pic)

Day 2/Tuesday – covered up most of the block with gesso, leaving the only part I knew I wanted to keep and work with—a vintage U.S.A. stamp


Day 3/Wednesday – what’s the topic? happened to see a newspaper clip with the word ‘war’ while I was doing my 5-minute collage earlier in the day. Decided to use it.


Day 4/Thursday – what else goes with war? wanted a graphic to use as an image transfer. Went to Randel Plowman’s Imagery resource page to see if I could get some inspiration. The bull’s eye graphic caught my attention and fit in with the war concept.


Day 5/Friday — the space felt unfocused, so I layed down pattern paper to break it up and make it easier to work with; it also added a bit of colour


Day 6/Saturday – wanted to add an image but not an illustration; again went to The Collage Workbook imagery resource page which led me to a US government page with royalty free images and found this image of F-86 fighter planes from the 1950s. I decided to obscure the word ‘war’ as I felt it was too obvious. Wondering where this is going. What do I want to say?


Day 7/Sunday – I liked how all the elements were coming together. I felt I needed to fill in the space on the top right. I envisioned text but what? I had recently watched an episode from the American show Homeland and the words Allah Oakbar (God is great/God is greatest) stuck in my mind. I was walking around the house saying Allah Oakbar and using my throat to give the ‘k’ a harsh sound and then I was savoring the sound of As-salamu alaykum  & wa alayk salam (the response). As-salamu alaykum literally means ‘Peace be upon you’ but is considered the equivalent of ‘hello’ in English. The response means the same but is conjugated appropriately to gender and plurality. I’ve always liked Arabic! I lived in Lybia for about a month when I was about 13. I like the look of the script and the contrast of the Arabic meaning within the rest of the piece.

Neither for nor against. Just a compilation of images of what we see and hear around us of what is now and has been for such a long time.


In conclusion

I liked working this way. The piece was always in the back of my mind contemplating possibilities. At this point, I’m going to look at it for a little while longer to decide if it’s finished. The piece is 6 by 6 inches.


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  • luisa

    Turn out pretty good!!

  • Laura

    Thanks! I’m pretty happy with it.

  • Wow – this is really effective and the image works really well! I think I often work like this without realising. Like I have to stop (other duties call etc) and then each time I get a chance to re-visit, I fiddle around with something new until eventually it feels finished. I like your piece a lot 🙂

    • Laura

      Hi Amelia and thank you! I suspect most artists work the way you do. I sometimes approach pieces too quickly so restraining myself has helped me to slow down. I then really start thinking of the possibilities for the next day–the piece is with me during the day at the back of my mind. It was a neat process and will be using it or versions of it more often now.

  • Emily

    Due to my busy I find that this is how I tend to work most of the time. Between my duties as a wife and mom to twin six year olds and teaching high school full time– little bits of time are usually all I can manage. Last year I took over a space in the garage as a “studio” space. It is quite small but it’s mine and I can pop in and do a bit of painting as I have time. Since it’s in the garage I can be messy, I can leave works in progress out, and I don’t have to clean up my area. It’s my happy place!

    • Laura

      What a full load, Emily! I can’t imagine how you do it. Teaching full time in itself seems exhausting–that’s what I always hear from teachers here in Vancouver. I considered doing an Education degree but decided it wasn’t for me–I couldn’t function that well in such a structured environment. Instead I’m working on an Art Education Diploma to help me teach a younger audience–as a visiting artist.