Study the Inspiration While Creating New Works

As an artist, I believe I must understand what it is I want to create. This can be very literal from colors and drawings and when creating multimedia, something more abstract. Painters have always studied the subject and contemporary artists still practice plein air – taking easel and supplies outdoors and painting the scene in front of them.

While creating Mabell’s Zoo, a multitouch picture book for children, I was inspired by Calder’s mobiles and their effortless unified movement. I wanted to incorporate a similar feeling in one of the zoo views. On screen, I created objects and arranged them in an appealing fashion. I tied the objects together and applied various motion. The movement was less than desirable. I changed things up, applied different movement and still the view was a disappointment. I tried several times before realizing that I needed to better understand how this mobile moved.

I took a break from the computer and created something physical. Using an old piece of plexiglass and wire, I cut out pieces similar to my digital version and hooked them together. I discovered many challenges with balancing the objects. Too much weight in one place or another would cause everything to tip. Once the mobile was complete it was beautiful to watch and observe.

Building the mobile gave me a better understanding of how the weights and joints work together to produce the integrated graceful movement. I applied this knowledge to the last view (number 10) of Mabell’s Zoo. The end result is fun to interact with and lovely to watch.