Monday, 18 August 2014

'Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties' Erich Fromm

It has  been a  busy August  so far.  I set this month aside to  experiment with my work and not worry about  creating an end result.  Over the two years on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art,  my work has slowly shifted under the expert guidance of my tutors.  However, I knew there was still room for  many further changes and picking strawberries kicked started yet another  process!

The fear of letting go of a tried and tested way of creative working can be very frightening, especially  if it has defined one and also led to past success.

When I returned to illustration after years away from it, I was certain I didn’t want to continue working in my old ‘style’ apart from the fact it was dated, it didn’t excite or challenge me. A comfortable way of working can easily become stagnant or a  security that makes us feel less vulnerable. But  playing safe can  also be controlling and self limiting. This is something that really came to light over the last two years on the MA.  It is so easy to become self restricting  due to fear, comfort or fashion.
My comfort has always been my use of line, generally loose and spontaneous.   I have really struggled to completely let go of it but I think the time has finally come to let it evolve or even  say   “ farewell”… well for now!  It comes to me so naturally but equally I am tired by it. I wanted to try something different – so with a week to myself   I set about immersing myself in my work and seeing where it took me. (click on the images below to enlarge)

It was a brilliant week working mainly in collage, creating my own textured papers, cutting, ripping, sticking and layering.  This little cat above being my first image and some of the many leaves created, below.

I loved working  directly with the materials – never knowing what would happen- accidents became interesting ones!  The various papers and patterns shouted out to me how best to use them. I was kept curious and wondering.

 A snippet of a water scene with a croc! 

Often working late into the  night and up early to continue, I was utterly absorbed and energised. It’s a process still in its infancy and I am fathoming out various conundrums. However I feel totally liberated and ignited by the leaps made. I leant so much about what does keep me interested in my working processes and what doesn’t- playing safe doesn't!
I have always needed spontaneity and change in my life or I feel stagnant. The same goes for my illustration work.. as the American author Alan Watts says  ....
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Time to boogie!  

                                                          monkey doodle with collage


  1. Lovely work Polly, great to see you noticing what scares you and working through it. Congrats. It's really getting somewhere.

    1. Thanks Craig, It is so liberating to discard being precious or cautious.

  2. The trick is moving your newfound freedom into the realm of commissions where we often behave more conservatively. Time to bogie!

    1. Very true Rob - watch this space! My dancing are shoes on...