SEVEN get a commission – a collaborative artwork

So, this December the intrepid Kerry Doyland, from Two Tree Gallery, a small space run by a group of Leigh artists, met a woman who wanted a piece of art reimagined. That’s a task for SEVEN Kerry told her. And, that’s how we got our first commission…

Old for new

Our mission – should we choose to accept it – was to rework a piece of art which had been bought in memory of a relative. A kind of collage-inspired work, with a vintage feel, the image featured lots of delicate heart-shapes in very muted tones.

The original piece of work

With that in mind, every SEVEN member was given a section of the original work. Now all we had to do was:

  • Respond to the original artwork in our own unique ways, working on small individual canvases.

The unifying threads were:

  • The heart detail – which the client was keen to retain
  • The colour palette of black, white, grey, yellow and gold

Once completed the small canvases would be framed together to form a complete piece.

Our collaborative creation

And the results were kinda interesting. Amanda told us her figurative take was inspired by the opening credits of her current fave show Vikings – what else!? While Helen looked to some of her enduring themes, like hands and gloves for inspiration:

“It seemed pretty apt to me, evoking ideas of nostalgia and connection,” she said.

Completed commission piece

SEVEN’s work usually centres around the creative process, so it was a real challenge to get together and create a finished piece. The result was something unique and completely unexpected. Is this the start of something new for SEVEN? Will we be taking more commissions in the future? We’ll see…

Back to sketchbook school – SEVEN gets a makeover

September marked a new term and some new approaches for SEVEN Collective. Following the Leigh and Southend Art Trails we had a think. Was our sketchbook collective going the way we wanted? Some people reckoned not…

Plus, check out our mind-bending idea-generating tip at the end of this post – it’s pretty out there, see what you make of it!

Gelli printing session at Leigh Community Centre

Time to bin the concertina?

One key area of contention were the sketchbooks themselves. While we were all committed to the journal format, someone asked:

Do the journals have to be concertina in format?”

Then we got on a roll…

Do the books have to be A5?

Why not smaller?

Or bigger?

Then we got really daring…

Couldn’t we just do something altogether different?

New themes

Like what?” some of us said.

Like, choose our own theme under a kind of umbrella heading…

Yes! We could each work with a different colour!

Err, no. What if you got lumped with putrid pink or blah brown?

They had a point.

So we considered taking a favourite book as a starting point. It seemed to go down well. Nods and murmurs of approval all round. Then a small voice confessed:

Words just don’t inspire me.

Hey ho. Back to the drawing board, then…

By jove, I’ve got it! How about a favourite artist or art movement?

YES!” *Whoops and air punches*

And, so it was agreed. Our Leigh Art Trail creative journals for 2019 would be based on the umbrella theme of an artist or art movement, but it was up to us to choose exactly who we’d like to explore…

New journals

No people, we couldn’t let it go at that. Now we might as well go the whole nine yards.  While we were branching out on themes, couldn’t we just, like, make our own books from scratch?

Yep, that’s right. Make our own unique journals. From. Scratch. What could possibly go wrong?! Watch this space…

New ideas

And, to get us into the back-to-sketchbook-school swing we decided to play around with some idea-generating prompts courtesy of musician Brian Eno.

Eno’s Oblique Strategies were introduced to us by artist Heidi Wigmore when we attended her creative journaling classes back in the day. Now, we were turning to them as a suitably mind-blowing way to get our SEVEN creative juices flowing for the new project ahead.

Check out the Oblique Strategies generator for gems like: ‘Mechanicalize something idiosyncratic’

I know! Right!?

Just where will all these new ideas take SEVEN, our creative journals, and you?

7 Ways to Kickstart Your Creativity – the methods SEVEN artists love + worksheets!

SEVEN Processes - Leigh Art Trail

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page and wondered where creative types get their ideas from then you’re not alone – the SEVEN collective have too!

What artists like Picasso do

When renowned photographer Brassaï asked Picasso whether his ideas came to him “by chance or by design,”  he said:

To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing…

The really good ideas, he said, came once he got started.

Easy for him to say, right? Just ‘begin’! Blah!

But there are ways and means to get beginning. Techniques used by creatives – from the Surrealists to David Bowie – to bypass doubt. Simple exercises which propel the blank, blocked or bewildered mind into creative exploration.

And, we’re sharing some of SEVEN’s fave methods, or processes, below. (Want to grab our downloadable worksheets right now!? Simply scroll to the end of the post.)

What inspired the SEVEN Collective

Now, we can’t claim to have got the idea of meeting up, using tried and tested artistic techniques as creative launchpads, and sharing the results in a supportive environment.

Nope, that was down to artist Heidi Wigmore who held a series of Creative Journal workshops at the wonderful Metal Art School in Chalkwell Park, near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

There, we found the permission to ‘just have a go’ without judgement or criticism.

For some of us our journals, or sketchbooks, were an adjunct to an already established art practice. For others the workshops marked a return to self expression left unexplored since art college or even school. But it worked for all of us.

So much so, some felt compelled to continue – et voila, the SEVEN collective was born!

The techniques we use to ignite ideas

To make our first collaborative project – exhibiting at Leigh Art Trail 2017 – easy peasy each SEVEN artist chose their favourite ‘process’ from the many we had tried and tested with Heidi.

We all took a shine to a particular method for our own very personal reasons:

  • Love drawing? – how about one minute sketches? Or ‘blind’ drawing?!
  • Think you can’t draw for toffee? – perhaps tracing and layering random images or using stencils could be for you?
  • Want to start somewhere else entirely? – try a word soup (aka Dada poetry) or make threads of thought. Or maybe use a good old map to get the juices flowing.

Use a process to get you started

Our fave creative processes are listed here. Each SEVEN collective member created a worksheet which details how it works and why they love it.

Simply download the ones which catch your eye and have a go. We recommend you try all of them. You never know what’ll wind up capturing your imagination – like Amanda’s swimmers, but that’s another story…

Now it’s your turn to explore:

PS We’d love to see what you create. If you feel inclined to, please share the results with us using #sevenartistsuk on Instagram or Twitter.

PPS These worksheets are for you to download for your personal use and are not meant for public reproduction.

Trawler Paper Article

The local Meetup group Trawler, in addition to their regular meetings and public events, have also produced a local paper called #TrawlerPaper.

Trawler, is a publication that contains interesting stories, photo essays and interviews written by local people about their passions, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The first edition of Trawler was launched in July 2015, which sourced crowdfunding to cover the printing costs (everyone kindly contributes their time for free). This proved to be so successful that it also part-funded this second edition.

In this edition Jo wrote an article entitled: ‘A Visual Conversation with Yourself’. The article tells the story of her experience of attending the Creative Journal workshops at Metal@Southend. The paper is only available in print form, so make sure you pick up a copy and look out for future editions.