Matisse, Nature & the Creative Whirlwind

I have a number of new design projects on at the moment so I thought I would share with you the creative process, where the inspiration comes from and how it's used to create a new piece of artwork. As my title suggests, creativity is like a whirlwind, all the ideas and influences whirl around in my head and eventually float down to earth when the storm subsides. 

As a self confessed nature junkie, quite often the starting point for a project are the fields and hedgerows around where I live, I love the solitude, beauty, and sounds of nature surrounding me. I am utterly transfixed by the way they change over the seasons and how I can walk the same path daily and see new plants appearing, if only I could plan my garden this well. My camera is constantly snapping away, I am looking for interesting flower and leaf formations, branches and trees shapes. 

Beautiful shape, combining the sepals & the petals in a cut has proved tricky so have had to simplify

Beautiful shape, combining the sepals & the petals in a cut has proved tricky so have had to simplify

Illustrator file - working out whre the holes go to make a secure cut can be tricky! I might look at a 3d bit on top to for the sepals

Illustrator file - working out whre the holes go to make a secure cut can be tricky! I might look at a 3d bit on top to for the sepals

As a surface pattern designer it really inspired me and helped me to think about how to simplify and stylise while keeping the essence of something. I saw how he had already influenced my work subliminally seeing leaf shapes similar to my Woodland Christmas design!  I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in art & design to go and see the exhibition before it finishes in September, and take your children, the Tate Modern staff told us it's been extremely popular with children, I am taking my 6 yr old son to see it in the holidays, and look forward to seeing what it inspires him to do too!

Ooo these  Matisse leaves look a bit like the ones on my Woodland Christmas range

Ooo these  Matisse leaves look a bit like the ones on my Woodland Christmas range

Matisse - Lovely large simplified flowers 

Matisse - Lovely large simplified flowers 



Wild Geranium from the hedgerow near our home

Wild Geranium from the hedgerow near our home

Back at my studio the work begins on manipulating the images in to a paper cut and this is where the hard work starts. I usually start with a pencil sketch to work out the shapes within the flower, then move on to Illustrator to design the cut. Some flowers like primroses work perfectly for a paper cut, others are a little more tricky. I have been working on wild geranium this week and it's been a real challenge, I have had to simplify and really stylise them to make them work as a cut, and this is where I  pluck other influences out of the whirlwind to help me make the design work.

Wild geranium

Wild geranium

Rough sketch to work out composition & shape.

Rough sketch to work out composition & shape.

Recently a friend and I visited Tate Modern to see the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition. I have always liked Matisse, as an art student I had Matisse posters on my wall, and I've seen his paintings in galleries, but I had only seen the paper cuts in books. As a designer of paper cuts I was expecting to enjoy it however I was not prepared for how both of us were blown away by the exhibition, the scale, colour, and composition, my response to it was emotional, whole walls filled with a single piece, vibrant, fluid and just plain beautiful.

Love the cut words on this Matisse piece

Love the cut words on this Matisse piece

Now its time to take these flower  elements and turn them in to a whole design, think I might weave in other flowers and make a summer hedgerow.  Watch out for my post when it is completed.

Find Woodland Christmas here

Can you spot the Matisse influence?