An art teacher once told me that all art pieces go through an ugly stage during their creation. It's that point where we tend to feel discouraged, where we think we're not achieving the vision we had in our minds. When we sometimes stop working on a piece altogether. And I think that teacher talked about the ugly stage so we would learn it's a natural part of the creative process, a stage we have to work through as we figure out next steps. 

I have learned over the years that if we don't like our progress (and we often, but don't always, reach an ugly stage), we need to keep working through it, adding layers or redoing parts. It's all about creative problem solving.

Whether it's painting, fibre art, weaving, or other art form, there is much potential to see exciting things happen if only we work through it and are open to the possibilities. Even when we don't get the results we expect. It's the sum of all the layers that add depth to a piece, as a little bit of each previous layer is left for the viewer to take in. 

I recently decided I wanted to start making Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I thought it would be a great way to experiment with some mixed media and fibre art techniques. The size is right: 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" and far less an investment of time and effort than trying out ideas on a large canvas.

I began by working on 2 pieces at the same time, using the same techniques on each but in slightly different ways. One I liked right away, the other not so much. But as I continued to add layers, I discovered the one I originally liked I didn't like as much anymore, while the other morphed into something much more pleasing.

Both did go through a mild ugly stage. But experimenting and adding layers was key to finding the right answers.

Sometimes we just have to keep playing. Other times it may mean putting a piece aside and coming back to it after a few days with fresh eyes. Or waiting until the next step is revealed. Such is the nature of problem solving.

In a very short time I had several ATCs finished, learning much as I experimented with variations on the same technique, resolving what I didn't like about the first few. 

I discovered just how deceptively creative these ATCs are for problem solving skills.

To add to the fun, my art book club exchanged a few ATCs for the first time this month, with more to come for our next couple of Zoom get-togethers. 

Can't wait to get started on my next batch. 


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...