Lesson Four:


The MacGuyver School of Art

“To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”  Thomas A. Edison



Rebecca Solnit says: 

“…every spinner takes the amorphous mass before her and makes a thread appear, from which comes the stuff that contains the world, from a fishing net to a nightgown.  She makes form out of formlessness, continuity out of fragments, narrative and meaning out of scattered incidents…”

"The Faraway Nearby"




Lesson 4 Alternative Outlooks

As artists, it is important to keep an open mind.  We must be puzzle-solvers, inventors, and engineers.  We must never take what we know for granted, but rather always look deeper and again, with new eyes. This is how we challenge our creative status quo.


You may remember the old MacGyver TV show, where he solved huge problems with ordinary objects.  He saw potential beyond the conventional use of something, to make new tools.  This idea also brings to mind Leonardo DaVinci, Rube Goldberg and Robert Rauschenberg, the brilliant, the quirky and the resourceful, but other artists, probably more than we’ve heard about have made things happen by having the same outlook - by creating new purpose for what is on hand.


Readings: Haley Weiss’ Excerpt of Interview with Leonardo Drew.

              Creative Problem Solving Article

              Francis Ponge Bio


Watch the video on Intuitive Drawing.  See if you can notice how accidental the marks are, and possibly how the marks inform more marks.

Think about how the tool I use and the tool you will make will allow you to let go of control. 


Design a tool or tools from alternative materials.  The image above provides some ideas for possibilities.  There are so many more. 

Materials: artifacts, junk, bits.  Take a walk outdoors and consider how natural materials might be useful.  Take a look in your garage.


Draw.  Draw without lifting the tool from the paper.   Draw with your eyes closed.  Draw without looking at the paper. Draw with your non-dominant hand. Draw on a large piece of scrap paper, wrapping paper, newspaper, paper bag.  Take your time.  Spend time looking at the marks you make.  Note how the marks generate ideas for your next marks.



Alter an 8" by 8" piece of cloth.  Use one of your alternative tools and brush, stamp, rub, dye, or monoprint the fabric.

Once the preliminary alterations have dried, start stitching.

Since this is the only piece to tackle for the week, work on it intensely with lots of stitches.  

Borrow from the ideas below or come up with your own.  And tell a story.


Revisit old work, Reinvent; Dissect; Tear apart; Rearrange; Weave Into; Zoom into an area; crop and start over.


Immerse in dye; paint over almost every part, cover with appliqué or stitch.


Embrace tangled thread and find a use for it.  Use alternative threads.


Definitely do something out of the ordinary. (inspired by Christina Hesford’s  “First Aid Kit”)



Make a list or take note of what is happening.

How do the materials you choose connect to the concepts in your work?

How can you engage other senses in your visual work through the use of materials?


Why should any of this matter? See you in the Artist Forum.


Copyright 2019 Roxanne Lasky  Please do not reproduce.

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