I used to be a painter and graphite artist. Once I started Pyrography, about 6 years ago, the fluid creativity came to a crashing halt.
Pyrography is the traditional art of using a heated tip to burn images onto wood (or other natural materials). Pyrography is a full on left-brained medium. It really restricts ones ability to fluidly work but it is also an amazing medium for someone who works well in a structured environment. When I began working in Pyrography, it was more of a replacement to my interest of graphite drawing. It implemented the same basic concepts but offered a little more substance. I quickly learned my limits within the medium and ways to work around those limits. The two main reasons it is such a structured process is that it is a very slow process (with each square inch requiring many layers of varying temperature and pressure) and that mistakes are almost impossible to correct. If a mistake is made you either need to incorporate the ‘burn’ into the work or you need to attempt to sand beyond the burn to expose the clean wood underneath.
Of course, one learns quickly the importance of each move being quite calculated.
I have been working with Pyrography as my main medium for 6 years now and I have acquired so many skills from working in such a calculated fashion. Attention to detail is probably the most valuable skill that I have gained. Alternately, there are negative aspects too. When a detailed piece that is only 6″ x 6″ (like many of my tree pieces) can take around 12 hours to complete it is easy to feel like you just can’t keep up in the art community. The pressure to have each piece end in grand success can also be very overwhelming, and of course, as every artist knows, not all pieces can end in grand success.
I like to keep all kinds of art supplies in varying media around my house, so I spend a substantial amount of time dabbling with new techniques and merging different materials. I also am very into home decor and craft lately, so my collection of materials and fabric is growing wildly. This has been a nice departure for me and I can see how the new design aspect is positively influencing the way I do things with my art.
I definitely think there is something to be said for satisfying both the left-brain and the right-brain when it comes to ones creativity. If you are left-brained and tend to devote most of your time working in an analytical fashion, break out some clay and let your creativity run for a little bit. If you are more of a right-sided creative type who likes the figurative form, for example, dig into an anatomy book and explore the human form from the inside out.
There needs to be balance in just about every aspect of life, and in craft and art it is no different.