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Let It Go. Let It Flow.

One of the best things about the creative process is you don’t always end up where you thought you would when you started.

That’s as good a lesson for life as it is for creativity.

The Daily Artisan is about infusing more creativity into our days because it inspires a more fulfilling life, and teaches us lessons beyond art and music and photography.

As a planner with a Type A personality, my greatest challenge with the creative process is letting it go and letting it flow. And, yet, although at times intimidating, it’s surprisingly one of the things I enjoy most about creative projects.

One of my collage projects is a good example of not ending up where you thought you would.

In this case, it was an art project. But it easily translates to life as well.

Where the Project Started

For the collage, I started where I start most things – colors. Some of my previous posts on The Daily Artisan blog talk about how color inspires and motivates me, and usually is my starting point.

All I knew at first that it should be done in pinks and yellows. Nothing more, nothing less. And from there I thought it should be a collage about happiness due to the bright, cheery colors – and I started envisioning making a young girl paper doll as the central figure engaged in childhood fun.

I was thinking lemonade and pink bubble gum!

On an art project like this, the next step is one of my favorites – pulling together paints and selecting patterned papers and embellishments like ribbons. Pink and yellow still drove me, but as I went through lots of options, I found myself leaning toward a more serious feeling – still positive – but not quite as vibrant and loud.

The further along I went, the more I became convinced that my first plan wasn’t what I was feeling or wanted to do with the collage. When this happens, your (at least my) inclination is to stick with what you had planned out in your mind, and not step into the unknown and unfamiliar.

How many times does this happen also in our lives? Quite frequently, I’d say.

And when you’re faced with sticking to what you know – or letting yourself be a bit vulnerable with a completely new and untested idea – sometimes you need to just jump into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, and let it go and let it flow.

That’s what I did with this art project, and I was pleased with it at the end because of not only how it came together, but more importantly what it represented about stepping out into new things where our confidence is untested.

Where the Project Ended

Going through the patterned papers, I was drawn to the more subdued pinks and yellows, and some of the ones I chose had butterflies printed on them. I could feel my mind reformulating the earlier plans for the collage, and I knew that instead of featuring a fun young girl, it would a more serious lady.

She would have something to say about love, and if I could tie this to butterflies, it would make a nice connection. Crossing my fingers, I wandered out onto the Internet to search for quotes about love and butterflies, not sure if I would find anything but certain this is what I wanted.

Imagine my surprise when an anonymous quotation popped up that goes, “Love is like a butterfly … it goes where it pleases, and it pleases where it goes.” Bingo! My new direction was set!

With a blank 8″ x 10″ canvas in hand, I thought of ways to tie together the beautiful pink and yellow patterned papers; a hand-drawn and painted paper doll lady; a fancy paper dress made especially for her; bling around her neck and on her ears; ribbons; and three-dimensional butterflies I’d make and decorate from white paper.

There were a lot of steps to this project, and I did it over a week’s time when I could fit in working on it bit by bit. And, at the end, as with all my paper doll art projects, I named her … Samantha.

What the Project Taught Me

When I think of this collage project and Samantha, I’m reminded (for both art and for life) to be open to changing course when it feels right … to embrace something new without definition – and to let it go and let it flow.

It’s not always easy or comfortable, but it’s aspirational for living our best creative and fulfilled lives.

Collage Steps

Here are the steps that brought Samantha and the collage to life.

First, I started with drawing her (9″ tall); cutting her out (after all, she is a paper doll!); and giving her a face and hair. What looks like a white dress actually is her slip that goes under her fancy dress!

I made her a fancy, sparkly pink dress (still with pockets for her hands) – added three-dimensional “gemstone” bling as a belt, earrings, and necklace – and made her heels black (also with bling).

The 8″ x 10″ canvas was painted a soft yellow for the collage backdrop.

From the pink and yellow papers I selected, scalloped squares were cut for 20 background panels; lightly covered with diluted white paint to further soften the effect; and placed on the yellow canvas. Also, pink satin and pink-and-white-polka-dot grosgrain ribbons were added to the front, and around the sides that would show when hung on the wall.

Printing the butterfly quotation, I cut each word apart and inked the edges in pink, and made three-dimensional butterflies from folding white paper, and inking them with the same pink. Samantha’s back is covered in two-sided adhesive so she can take her permanent place on the canvas!

And the finished collage can hang on the wall or sit on a shelf – either way, Samantha lets us know about love and butterflies!

Have you made a creative project that ended differently than how you envisioned it when starting? Please comment below!

February 8, 2022



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