Monday, November 15, 2010


My husband, Darrell Peart, teaches woodworking classes.  This last weekend he taught a new type of class, the first time he's offered it, about design.  Or more to the point, about designing furniture.  I've been watching him, I must admit with little interest, develop this class for several months.  I eventually noticed that he was talking about some very interesting things.  I like his furniture designs, but I had never stopped to think about his methods, or his decision making process when designing.  And he will be the first to tell you that he mostly 'feels' his way to a good design.  But, as he states in his class, he didn't just start out that way.  He started by learning the 'rules'.   Memorizing the 'rules', designing using the 'rules' and then, eventually, abandoning the 'rules' and venturing off into uncharted territory, 'feeling' his way.

I am not very good at that, 'feeling my way' into a good design.  So, I asked him if I could sit in on this class.  He okayed it with the school and I went with him to Port Townsend for the weekend.

Before the class, the students were first to read some chapters about furniture design from a book

that Darrell recommends.  I crammed those chapters in the night before the class, and my head was spinning.   I can't say I had it down very well for class.  But, Darrell is a very good teacher and very patient (I'm not the only one who didn't do my homework either!).

We talked about the 'rules'.  We made drawings to illustrate the 'rules'. 

 It was very enlightening.  I could immediately see how I can use this in my artwork.  

Where Darrell's class was more informative was with the idea of proportion.  Proportion is where good furniture design starts, where any good design starts, really.  

We talked about proportion and and then the primary section, or , as I thought about it (as in artwork), the center of interest.  These are the bones from which all good design (read artwork) comes from.

I took a year of design at Bellevue Community College years ago.  I learned the 'rules of design' then.  But I don't think I've really thought about them when it comes to my artwork.  I didn't become 'immersed' in them.

This is what Darrell taught me:
You learn the rules, inside and out, until you completely understand them and don't have to think about them.  So, that's what I need to focus on - the rules of good design.  Unity, harmony, repetition, proportion, value, you know.  I need to learn them to my bones.  I need them to become second nature...
Then I can throw them out the window and start 'feeling' my way to good design.

All good design needs to start with a good foundation.

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