Quote from the book, “The Shape of Content” by Ben Shahn. Download Below.
The Shape Of Content By Ben Shahn
When I was studying fine art at the University of Oregon, one of my drawing class readings was the book, The Shape of Content, by the late artist, Ben Shahn. I’ve had this quote scribbled in my art journal from that time and always meant to someday create a printout from it. So here it is! I now have this pinned to my inspiration board.
Craft is that discipline which frees the spirit; style is the result. Ben Shahn, The Shape of Content.
Creating a unique style is what most artists strive for. It’s a mistake, however, to put the cart before the horse. Focusing on style first will block creativity because it can come from a place of fear. There is a pressure and judgment on the result. If you concentrate on the discipline instead, you are coming from a place of inquiry and discovery. I don’t think that discipline refers to concentrating only on technique, but it’s the discipline of the whole process, which includes technique. Truly unique ideas surface when we aren’t concentrating on the result or style.
I was listening to an audio by Deepak Chopra where he talks about using meditation to “slip into the groove.” This sounds exactly like what happens when you have a breakthrough in art. As you are working in art (a bit like a meditation), there is a back and forth that happens between thinking, intention, and actual work. People talk a lot about creative vision – about visualizing the final piece before you start. What I find most exciting in art though is when you have an idea, but as you work on it, something completely different comes up that is much better! When that breakthrough comes – for me – it’s as if the idea just slips into place. I’m quite certain that this moment doesn’t come if you aren’t doing the work. Thinking about something is different from doing it. How many times have I thought about a project, but when I started working on it, I discovered that certain parts of the idea didn’t work or that there was a much better idea behind that idea. Knowing the tools of our art so well that they are second nature also frees us to express rather than being limited by our abilities.
The Craft Of Textures
To become completely at ease with texture work, we need to become proficient with using layers, blend modes, layer masks and adjustment layers. It can seem daunting, but just take it one step at a time. Don’t wait to start until you know everything. As you work and learn you will get better. When I first started working with textures, I did almost everything wrong! I used the eraser instead of a layer mask. Then when I figured out layer masks, I would get frustrated because I’d do a layer mask for a texture, then I’d add another texture and I didn’t know how to copy the layer mask. Each little frustration led me to learning the next skill that I needed.
While I have a lot of tutorials on these skills, I’ll be starting a series of posts that are more systematic. I also highly recommend the book by Matt Kloskowski, Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature. See my review.
Notes On The Design
I created the poster using mostly French Kiss Collections assets. Note: although it’s subtle, filling the text with texture gives it more depth, variation in tone, and well—texture!
- Background texture High Plains from the French Kiss Paint Impressions Textures V. 3 collection.
- The text for Craft and Style and Frees The Spirit were filled with the texture, Lapis from French Kiss Paint Impressions Textures V. 3 collection.
- The text for Result was filled with the texture, Foot Hills from French Kiss Paint Impressions Textures V. 3 collection.
- The background bars are from the Photoshop Brush, French Kiss Corrugated Grunge.
- The scribble is a brush set I’m working on right now.
- The damask pattern is from Vector Stock (extended license).
- The font is Castor by Albatross.
Using Textures To Fill Text
Text can be filled with textures using a clipping mask. It’s easy-peasy. See the tutorial.
- Simply place the texture in the layer above the text.
- With the texture layer selected in the layer panel, use the keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + G (Mac) or Control + Alt + G (PC).
- Resize and or move the texture to get the desired effect.
- Use layer adjustments to tweak the text. The layer adjustments also get clipped to the text.
Get The Download
Download and print out the poster and get to work! Poster is for personal use only.Download
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