‘The way to get started is to stop thinking and start doing.’  Walt Disney

Great advice.  It’s too easy to have an idea, then keep ‘looking’.  Sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and begin doing, otherwise, I’ll flip and flop my way around to procrastination, and that’s just not going to happen.

The poem, The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred Lord Tennyson is my inspiration, but I have little idea on how to move forward with this concept.  The only thing I can do is to begin, somewhere.  History, poetry, and art are huge drawcards for any designer, they’re like the lure to help bolster and flesh-out my concept, so that’s where I begin.

Now, this may work, or not, but it will give me a spring-board for content including shape, texture, and pattern, and I’m jumping in, surrounding myself with as much information as possible at this stage.  It’s the only way I know to ignite that creative spark.

‘Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.’  W. Clement Stone

Action is force, good or bad, right or wrong.  At this stage, I don’t care.  I’m simply looking for content and context.  The Lady of Shalott is based on Arthurian legend, the medieval histories, and romances leading to the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders.  So there’s my beginning.

Pinterest is my go-to for inspiration, closely followed by internet research.  Both are easily accessed and rich in content.  So I begin with images of medieval art, tapestries, and manuscripts, including animals, figures of men, and women, workers, and the wealthier ranks.  I’m also interested in the backgrounds, which at this time could be quite richly decorated.

For background inspiration, I’m looking at Mille-Fleur (a thousand flowers) Tapestries from around the 15th century.  These narrative tapestries, often depicting scenes from everyday life, with a ‘mille-fleus’ background, which sometimes also included birds and animals.  This design device is thought to have originated from the custom of strewing cut flowers roundabout on Medieval fete days.

‘Everyone starts at the beginning; getting good at something starts with trying.’  Elise Cripe

Now there’s an immediate association for me with Mille-Fleur backgrounds and the more modern-day work of Viennese Architect and Artist, Josef Frank whose widely recognisable textile designs are both joyous and colourful.  This exuberance could lead to a more contemporary interpretation if that’s the road I want to travel.

So, my adventure’s begun and I’m taking the scenic route.  I may have to back-track a couple of times or go down deeply darkened trails with unknown outcomes.  It doesn’t matter.  I’ve begun.

cathy jack coupland


Image Credit: ‘C’ initial from ‘Sententiae’ by Petrus Lombardus, about wedding Trinity Abbey, By Unknown author – Vendôme – Municipal Library – ms. 0061, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89586466