Bijou Raffle Lesson

Earlier this year I posted a technique that I use to come up with ideas to create drawings: the Raffle Game. Someone on Facebook asked me to show more about it, so I figured I would elaborate a little more (you can read the earlier blog post here).

This is nothing but a very large collection of 2x2 inch bijou tiles with prompts, tangles, enhancers and art ideas. The idea is to let the universe decide for you! I used to keep my tiles in a bag like this:

Now the collection has grown, so I keep it in a simple plastic box like this, to make it easier to carry around, and it protects the cards a little better:

But wait! Don't be fooled by the compact size of the box. I have calculated that there are over 400 cards in there!!!!

Here is a random selection of the cards that I pulled out to show you:

The collection of cards is always growing. There are the following types of cards I include in the box:

  • Tangle Patterns: I draw some of the cards myself, and also have included in Lynn Mead's beautiful tiny tile card deck. Thanks to that, I have almost all official tangles, and many more, but I only include the ones I REALLY love to draw.

  • Strings and Reticula: I select my favorite strings found online and some that I create myself. I also include random reticula (grids) that I enjoy working, such as the fan string.

  • Tangle Enhancers: I include traditional tangle enhancers such as rounding, sparkle, shading, aura, etc, and also some slightly more specific such as “dashed aura”, “bunching up”, etc. These are generally smaller and easier enhancers that I mention randomly in my lessons.

  • Word prompts: some of the tiles have simple sentence prompts such as “avoid any blossom tangle”, or “add different auras”. This makes the request more specific.

  • Lesson concepts: so many times I forget to use things I taught in previous lessons, so I include summarized concepts that I taught before, for example, “creating an organic border” or adding a “tassel with a flowy skirt”. This helps me to reuse what I already know well.

  • Future ideas: I also throw in some ideas I have for future projects. I find that my head is always overflowing with ideas and I don't want to forget to use them in my art. This also helps to come up with lesson projects: I combine new ideas with older prompts and tangles.

Down Days

What I love about this box is that it serves many purposes, but most especially, a way to stay creative during those down days, if I have less inspiration than normal because the muse decided to take a hike, or just not feeling well due to ongoing medical treatment.

1) On a down day, I can select a bunch of tiles from the box and that gives me inspiration to work on something I would never thought of myself;

2) On a REALLY down day, I rummage through my lessons and idea files and create more bijou cards to throw in the box. This keeps the collection ever growing and gives me a sense of being productive!

How to Use the Raffle game

The way I use these is very simple: I pull out 8 to 12 of these bijou tiles and set them in front of me, raffle style. I replace two or three that I didn't like or don't feel like using right now. I'll try to use most of them, but may ignore a couple of them. Here's an example:

As you can see, some of the selections were used more abundantly in the tile, such as the tangle Ahh, and others were never used at all, like Zanholli. I tend to use the first bijou tile as inspiration for the string, so you can see that the string for this tile was a spiral (even though the prompt was related to something else).

In this second example, I used one of the tangles as inspiration for the string, I create a string with large circles similar to the tangle Sez. Notice how I never really did manage to include more than 45 little details, but that prompt instigated me to repeat Plume-Ar tangle in excess, which is really what makes the tile look so cool in the end. The “White lace connect everything” was not used literally, but as an inspiration to connect all elements in what turned out to be a dense mass of layered pieces. And finally, you can see that the prompt “Echolines” was never really used at all, even though I am such a huge fan of Echolines. So the idea is that the prompts INSPIRE you but don't force you at all.

And that's it! You can make your own raffle game too. Keep in mind that this idea is not new: artists have used chance forever as a way to inspire them to mix and match concepts in unusual ways. Right now, this is my favorite method of choosing tangles, I love the way that this game inspires me to use combinations that I would have NEVER thought of in a million years. Sometimes the results are weird, and that is the price you pay for letting the universe choose for you :-)