Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mind mapping future directions

Last week I put this up on the mirror doors in my studio. It's a "mind map" to help me get a handle on where I'm going with my work. For the past 2 years I've had to be pretty disciplined in sticking to creating work that fed into my masters. Now all that has opened up and I find my mind bubbling over with directions and ideas that I previously had to ignore, and I'm feeling really torn.

On the one hand I have a real drive to experiment with different media: all types of printmaking really excite me, as does encaustics (wax-based painting). I've played with bits and pieces of these over the years, but never made more than a couple of works using each of the different media. Printmaking does tie in really nicely with artists books of course, and it can also be used in installation work. I also have some ideas for using it in paper object-making.

I've been thinking about going back to the photos I took last year when I was overseas and the ephemera that I collected while traveling, and making work using that. The trouble with that is that it doesn't really fit in conceptually with the direction of my masters work. When I started the masters, one goal for me was to carve out a conceptual-basis for my work that justified (to my mind) my devoting my time to art-making, when I have skills I could be using to help others (occupational therapy). It's not that I don't value the contribution art of art in a society, I do, I definitely do, but it just felt that for me, it was somewhat self-indulgent.

The masters really expanded my understanding of the role of art in a society, and now I see the work I do as research. I'm using a visual language to explore multi-layered issues and concepts, and extend what can be understood through verbal means. So it is important to exercise some discipline and to follow somewhat logical lines of inquiry. I have a natural inclination to be entranced by new ideas and I have to restrain myself from just jumping from one idea to another quite unrelated idea. I think in the long term, the work I do will be more worthwhile if I work at keeping a reasonable degree of focus. Of course that doesn't mean there can't be a number of different strands...

Anyway, here is a close-up of my mind map:

(Click on the map to see it at a readable size)

It looks at the concepts, processes and source imagery I've developed so far, and sees them all as potential "feeding stimuli" for books. I've also included the idea of the cocoon and the box, which were forms I looked at using but didn't get a chance to develop in time for the masters. Finally I've included some older imagery that I am really attached to, and would like to extend further. It's just a way to have my starting points mapped out in front of me, and allow me to see which directions I can take.


  1. Nice to see mind maps outside of a business context. It reminded me of how useful I find them AND that I've been lazy in not having a current one going myself, so thank you Amanda! It will be interesting in what ways your work develops in response to the ideas you've put down. Right, I'd better be off and think of what I might put in my own map. It is a REALLY good idea... Sara

  2. Your mind map is a great idea to keep yourself focused and motivated.
    I'm not disciplined enough to have one of those but I do like the idea.

    As for which direction to go in, well, the world is your oyster, so go with what you feel is right at the time, I'm sure that everything else will fall into place.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog too, much appreciated.
    Hope that all is well with you.

  3. God, I wish I could be as organised and focused as you

  4. Well, I am naturally pretty organised, but mainly I find it's useful because I get a bit befuddled having too many ideas swirling around in my least now if I go off on a tangent I'll know it.

  5. It all looks fascinating...

  6. I loved your mind map idea. Does this map designate how much time you spend on each art or project?

  7. Hi Trish,
    Welcome to my blog...thanks for dropping by. No, the mindmap doesn't show time spent on different areas, although it would be possible, I think, to build this in by using some sort of coded system e.g. colours. The map mostly shows the way different ideas and processes relate.