It’s not easy to let go sometimes. To leave something to chance and see what happens. That’s what we learned to do in our 2D design class while working on three separate projects.

First project
We had to pick out two black and white images of different sizes and arrange them on a piece of bristol board. We could incorporate black poster paper as well.

The pictures I chose were of my daughter Stephanie and her fiancé Keegan. My nephew Chris took the picture of them jumping for joy this past summer at Two Lights State Park. The smaller picture is of the engagement ring Keegan made for Stephanie out of wood and a tiny rock. Pretty darn clever and romantic, too. Last Easter, he filled hollow eggs with treats and hid them in and around the house. The one he hid in the garden contained the ring. When she opened it, he got down on bended knee and proposed. Very sweet.

I love the images and plan to frame them for real as a gift. As for my layout, it’s pretty straightforward.


Second project
The second time around we had to work in groups. I always get a bit anxious when I’m told I have to be part of a group. Being at least 40 years older than all of the other students might add to that anxiety, but fortunately, age — theirs or mine — hasn’t been an issue.

Everyone in the class had to draw an 8″ x 10″ grid divided into one-inch squares on a piece of bristol board and we had to use black and white images to create a design. Each group had to determine a method of chance for placing the images on the grids. My group, which also included Amelia and Ryan, decided we could each pick out our own black and white images, but we had to cut them into small, medium and large pieces.  We tossed everything into a hat and pulled them out one at a time.

Picking pictures out of a hat

Amelia picking a picture from the hat.

We spun around with our eyes shut and picked a spot on each other’s grids where an individual image would go. We then chose a scrap of paper marked E, N, W, or S from an envelope to determine the image’s orientation.

Ryan working on design

Ryan working on his design

Amelia working on design

Amelia working on her design

We had quite a discussion figuring out our group’s rules. I enjoyed it a lot and found myself opening up to ideas I might never consider. For example,  Amelia suggested we fill the entire 8″ x 10″ space with one image and draw a grid over the image. My first reaction was “HUH?” I thought about it and began to warm up to the idea. In the end, we did a coin toss. I’m the one who had to add the background image. Here’s what I chose.

Black and white image for grid design

The project was fun, but also frustrating because we had absolutely no choice in where we could put our images. We got varying results.

Ryan with design


Amelia and her design


Chance 2D project


Third project
We could take what we had learned and do whatever we wanted — grid or no grid, chance or total control. We still had to use black and white images.  I decided I needed some control, but not total. I drew a faint grid on bristol board, which I taped to a piece of black paper, which I taped to the large piece of board. I chose my images carefully, based not on their subjects, but their patterns. Everything else I left to chance.

I picked each image from a paper bag and dropped a small roundish pine cone on the grid to decide where the image would go. THE MOST FUN I had was deciding the direction by using a compass app on my phone. I closed my eyes and turned around several times in both directions and when I stopped, wherever the compass was pointing is where the image went. Not just north, south, east or west, but 132 degrees SW or  52 degrees NE. I was really excited about the final design.

Chance design 3

Leaving it to chance was a good experience
I don’t consider myself a control freak, but I usually prefer to be in control. Does that make sense? I worried quite a bit about how I should position the pictures of Stephanie and Keegan and the ring. I think the end result conveys the joy I wanted it to, but I’m not too impressed with the layout. On the second project I worried about working with my group. Everything turned out fine and I got a taste of letting go of control. With the last assignment I worried about nothing. ZERO. It was pure enjoyment, from start to finish. I figured out my process  and created my grid, which satisfied my need for some measure of control and left the rest up to chance.  Letting go can be so freeing and delicious. We should all probably do it more often.

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Jen · October 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Diane, I want to be you when I grow up. I’ve always thought about what I’d want to go back to school for. It probably wouldn’t be art, but your excitement and curiosity for learning are infectious. Go, you!

    dianeatwood · October 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    You’re so funny Jen! The secret might be to never grow up or at least don’t ever see yourself as being too old to learn something new. That’s what’s really exciting.

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