My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1606: Numbers

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-13-2015 12:19 PM 1165 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1605: There's Hope Part 1606 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1607: Another Day in Paradise »

With the summer months here, it seems we are running just a bit slower. I know I am. I don't know if it was because of the back issues or if is attributed to some things that have been on my mind. We all go through highs and lows though, and for the most part, things are still moving in a forward direction – just slower. 

The only thing that seems to be moving quickly is "time". It is hard for me to believe that it is the middle of August already. It seems that summer has just started and it is already beginning to feel like autumn. Maybe it was due to our long, snowy winter that seemed to last much longer than usual. Maybe it feels that way because I didn't have my car back until the first week in July. It has only been a few weeks, and I am already thinking about having to take it back in and store it again. That's kind of sad.

Another thing that probably played a part in things is that I have tackled some big projects this year. Instead of having a larger number of small projects, it seems that I am at a time in my creative life that I have the urge to tackle things that are a bit more involved. My Haunted Carousel project took over two months to complete. There have been other milestones as well, such as my "Layla" tiger painting project, that had me reaching deep inside to teach something that I never thought I would be able to teach. These are all good things.

I always believe that 'quality' is more important that 'quantity' when designing is concerned. But even though that is the case, it is sometimes difficult for me to follow my own beliefs, as designing for a living sometimes requires a bit more. While I absolutely loved the Carousel project, if I only did things of that scope and difficulty it would severely limit my audience and customer base and I doubt that I would be able to survive as a designer. So it is a constant juggling act of choosing not only what media to design in, but also the level of difficulty. But either way it keeps things interesting and fun.

Last night I finished up my SLDP237 Black Cat Society painting pattern. I pretty much worked on it all day and finished up about 8pm. It came out to be 34 pages long and has 94 step-by-step color photos in it. Those numbers surprised even me.

One would think that a pattern of that size would be very complicated. That the project would be difficult to do. But when I look at the finished pattern, I realize that because of the number of pages and photos included, quite the contrary is true. The size and number of photos actually makes creating the project 'easy' and attainable for just about anyone. No kidding.

Numbers can be deceiving.  Being someone who considers herself somewhat 'artistic', I am not always a fan of numbers for many reasons. One of them in particular is that they tend to slant our view of something – and not always in a fair and accurate manner. But I realize that numbers are necessary for creating benchmarks, if you will. Points of reference that we can judge and grade things on and compare them. But more often than not we may find that when we only consider things by numbers, we are not really seeing a true and accurate portrayal.

Bigger numbers doesn't always mean that things are more difficult. Sometimes it can mean the opposite.

Take a blueberry pie. If we were to cut it into two pieces, it would probably be difficult for one to eat. (Maybe not some of us, but we won't go there!) However, if we were to divide it into eight pieces, the pieces would be smaller and much more palatable for the average person. Maybe they would eat more than one piece, but they could easily stop at two or three, etc. The point is that by breaking it down into smaller pieces, it gives a bit more control over things.

It brings us back to the idea of 'Baby Steps.'

As a teacher, I believe that most of us can do most things if we are given the opportunity and taught properly. My experience in teaching others is that when someone is learning something new, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. People tend to look from point "a" to point "z" without really considering the 24 steps in between. And that can be terrifying and stop them in their tracks.

So when I teach, I tend to like to break things down into very small 'bites' if you will. (Again – baby steps). I ask my students "Can you go from step 'a' to step 'b'?  (Usually they answer affirmatively.) Then I ask "Can you go from step 'b' to step 'c'?"  ("YES!" again. And so on) And before you know it, we are on a journey together of learning at a comfortable and reasonable pace. It works more often than not. If one stumbles along the way, it is also much easier to back track and correct things. They usually haven't advanced too far before they realize the error and psychologically, it is much less difficult to fix than if they had made great strides and had to take a huge step back. It is easier all around. 

Is 94 photos excessive for a pattern?  I really don't think so. There are as many photos as I feel necessary to show each step of the process. There are eight main elements in this painting and each one deserves the attention I gave it. I still maintain that even a newer painter can complete my designs without much difficulty. That is and will always be my goal. I always say that I would rather offer too much information than err on the side of not having enough. One can always skip over what they already know. 

Here is a snapshot of the pattern: 

The text and instructions are nicely broken up and very easy to follow. It is an easy read. Hopefully the photos help clarify things for even the newest painter. That's my goal anyway. 

I am so glad that I live in a time when digital photography and files are available. I would never be able to do this if I had to use film, or go to get the photos processed. I started with nearly 500 raw photos for this pattern and pared them down to "just" 94. As I look at the  pattern, I am very pleased with the outcome and I am no longer worrying about how long it took to create. It is something that I am proud to put my name on and I know it is my best work. That is all that matters. 

I need to remind myself of today's post the next time I get down on myself for not producing things quickly enough. I know it is silly, but I still do that from time to time. But it is days like this when I am reminded that I am on the right track. I want my reputation to be one of excellence. The only way I can achieve that is by doing my best. Every day. 

Keith also has added a new pattern to the site. This one is a wonderful set of plaques for Christmas.

It is his SLDK604 Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays plaque pattern set. They are available as a set of three, or individually. 

We will both be adding more holiday projects soon, and we are doing a site update today. Watch your email for our newsletter that we will be sending out later today. I will also have the Black Cat Society painting pattern and surface (as well as Combo kit) up on the site later today. Many have already inquired about it. 

It is another overcast and foggy morning here, but the weather is supposed to be clearing for a couple of days. Summer isn't over yet, and hopefully we can still take advantage of some of the nice days and enjoy them. 

I wish  you all a great day today. Come stop by our Facebook page at Sheila Landry Designs Scroll Saw Art and give us some 'likes'. They seem to be limiting our visibility more and more and the 'likes' and comments really help us reach more people.  

Have a happy Thursday! 

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

2 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2673 days

#1 posted 08-13-2015 04:58 PM

Your patterns and detail is what makes customers keep coming back. I know that when I paint your Layla pattern over the winter I will have no problem because of the great photos and your attention to detail. And the digital age helps!
I feel like I’m working very slowly at the minute on the bags I’m making – and it doesn’t help that that my sewing area is in the living room and it looks like a tornado hit it right now :) I’ll be finished by the end of this week and it all will back to being organized again.
Keith’s plaques are great. He always does a wonderful job on them.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3520 days

#2 posted 08-14-2015 10:08 AM

Thank you as always, Anna! You always are such a wonderful support. I am just glad that the work I put in to my patterns is appreciated! (((HUGS))) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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