Setting constraints for my art

I talk about setting constraints for art making. How I’ve done it in the past and some easy ways to get started if you want to try it.

When I first started making art I was not interested in setting constraints. I wanted to try all the things with all the products. Or use every tool and see what it did. I wanted to include every color. My work was all over the map as a result. I was in the midst of exploring and that’s how it works.

Now that I have more experience with different tools and techniques, I’m more apt to try out a set of constraints for my art making. In some of the work I’ve been doing recently, I’m taking unprimed canvas and crocheting it to use as my base for my pieces. In other work, I’m looking at literally weaving yarn and paper together and my limiting factors are using yarn for the warp and paper for the weft.

Sometimes I have a set of structural elements that I’m drawing from or I will have specific colors emerging as a dominate theme. As I see certain themes developing, I will lean into those even more heavily. In previous series I’ve deliberately chosen colors beforehand and worked primarily from those for the pieces. I’ve also chosen size as a limiting factor.

There are so many ways to mark off constraints that sometimes I think we do it without even making conscious choices about it. But making a plan and mostly sticking to it can make for some much stronger art. Having repeating elements or themes can take our art to the next level and can often be achieved with minimal effort.

How to do it

I think the easiest way to set constraints is to chose a palette of colors and/or a limited set of medium. This can be choosing a few colors of watercolor paint or only using watercolor and pencil. As a mixed media artist it feels a bit like leaving out children when I have to reduce my options. I’ve definitely struggled with it. It takes practice. My post from last week on what’s in my travel art kit is one example of setting parameters because it is one way to limit my supply set.

Your constraints can be as easy or as complex as you like. There are no rules! Except for the ones you decide on!

An easy way to start

So here we are in January and I am once again contemplating The 100 Day Project. The 100 day project is the perfect environment to tackle setting constraints for your art making/practice.

I have had two successful 100 day projects. (Successful for me is I completed the 100 days of making. I’ve had several others that I’ve attempted but I didn’t finish.) I talk about ways to be successful in your 100 day project here.

The 100 day project is one of the goals I set out in my yearly agenda. As I’m writing this, I’m making a plan for what I want to do for the 100 days. I’ve been contemplating keeping a sketchbook (or some other drawing project) for my 100 days. I am not a strong drawer or a very confident one and practicing for 100 days, seems like a easy way to improve my skills but will only require a tiny time commitment.

What’s your take

How do you handle this process? Have tried setting constraints before? Are you signing up for the 100 day project? Send me an email or tag me on socials and let me know what your experiences are!

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