Basic Design and Development of Creativity
By the artist
Dina Merhav


Dina Merhav graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Her teaching experience extends over 38 years: 1966-1996 teaching design and sculpture at Hadassa Wizo College of Design, Haifa; 1971-1974 teaching graphic design in the Art Department, University of Haifa; 1975-1980 instructing graphic design in External Section Studies, Technion, Haifa.

"I was inspired by my students' (Wizo College) enthusiasm and great effort
to compose this course in basic design and to share my experience,
knowledge and enthusiasm with other interested people."

"Basic Design and Development of Creativity"
is accompanied with B\W photo's of student's work.

Dina Merhav site


1. What is Design? Its Significance and Source
2. Basics of Design: Point, Line, Shape, Color and Composition Comprehensive Lecture
3. Exercise -- variations of line A. (two-dimensional)
4. Exercise - variations of line B. (relief) -- understanding and working with the subject of line by means of an exercise
5. Exercise - variations of line C. (sculpture, three-dimensional)
6. Collage, variations of line, application of three elements, free technique
7. Two-dimensional point, collection of points that expresses shape
8. Point relief, different materials
9. Three-dimensional point
10. Texture collage and assemblage from various materials (relief)
11. Shape and composition, two-dimensional, four basic shapes, combination exercise with straight, diagonal, waving and circular lines
12. Lecture on composition with examples from various artists. Two-dimensional composition,.basic shapes and combinations of them, free size and technique (light and shadow, gluing, painting, etc)
13. Composition, three -dimensional on the basis of the basic shapes, free size and technique
14. Four compositions, low paper reliefs with four techniques: cutting, weaving, tearing, wrinkling, morphological expression from the same material
15. Conclusion of the subject of composition using applique, free composition -- change of material, with cloth
16. Combination subject using: Stage 1. Freer, less defined subjects, a. sketch of pepper, b. free two-dimensional graphic development and treatment, c. three-dimensional development of pepper as sculpture
17. Kitsch and anti-kitsch, two three-dimensional works, understanding of kitsch
18. Growth, development -- three-dimensional expression
19. Mixed media -- three-dimensional combination of materials, free exercise


Forward -- Design and Development of Creativity

The term "design" is one that is used widely in our lives, and its use is increasing and taking on many new meanings and roles. It seems, though, that few have fully defined it or described its essence. Design is creation, the causing of something to come into being, the bestowing of a new form. Its origin lies with the thought born in the mind of the designer, and proceeds through the reincarnations of that thought to the birth of the product. In order to proceed with the explanation of the term ''design'' as regards the entire range of its meanings we will first divide the concept into two main categories:
A. Material design: product design, graphic design, fashion design, etc.
B. Theoretical, conceptual design: that which is expressed as a particular approach, for example: economic, political, governmental design.
All designs, whether they are abstract or material, have a common basis in the fact that they always express a new idea.
In order to design, one must invent, one must create a new and original conception for the given subject; development and execution then follow this invention.
For example: For the design of a chair, first is the planning, which includes the idea, the shape of the chair, the material from which it will be fashioned, its dimensions and proportions, its load and an additional element that is perhaps the deciding one -- its functionality.
For the chair to be properly designed it must be functional:
A person must be able to sit in it comfortably and safely, and it must have a pleasing and aesthetic shape. If the chair fulfils these two criteria, that of functionality and that of aesthetics, its design is good.
We have seen that the origin of the design process lies in creative thought that takes numerous factors into account. The combination of these factors and the synthesis between them gives birth to a designed product, whether it is a packing box, a dress, a car, a piece of furniture or a house.

Principles of Design
We have seen that design is a broad concept that covers a great number of important fields in our lives. Almost everything is designed by someone -- whether it is the cup that we are drinking from, the pen we are writing with, or the car we are driving in. These are examples from the field of material design -- product design.
Our lives also are carried on in a society whose economic and political systems have been designed by human beings. Design, then, is one of the basic components of our lives; and though we may not be aware of it, its influence upon us is indeed meaningful. This is so whether it effects us directly, indirectly, or even subconsciously.
We will deal with Basic Design, the framework of thought and understanding of many fields, such as: the plastic arts -- painting and sculpture, set and exhibition design, graphic design, etc. I am of the opinion that basic design is the source of the development of creative thinking, which gives birth to artistic endeavor. It is no secret that the lives of creative people are more interesting and fulfilling than their non-creative counterparts, and that these people even live longer (c.f., Picasso, Cassals, Chagall, Michelangelo, etc, etc.). This people have a reason for living, their motivation is great, and they enjoy a high quality and length of life. There is then, a reciprocal relationship that exists between basic design and creative thinking. Here we will engage in the development of creative thinking by means of various exercises in the areas of basic design, two-dimensional design and three-dimensional design.
Since we must begin at some specific point -- and this reminds me of the chicken and the egg -- it seems that a good starting point would be to refer to the primary, fundamental elements of design: point, line, form, color, and composition. These are the basics of graphics. To these we will add other fundamental concepts, such as material, texture, mass, proportion, and finally function -- and of course the reciprocal relationships between these. In order to make the understanding of these fundamental concepts easier we will first deal with each one individually and only later attempt to make connections between them and join them together in various combinations. In order to make these combinations, of course, creative thinking is required, as is openness, resourcefulness, imagination and a rich system of association.

The Line
A line is composed of a series of points. In every area of basic design, in its broader meaning, the line and the point are the point of departure toward a fascinating adventure that begins with original thought and ends with the birth of a work of art.
Indeed the point is the beginning of this process, but the line is more tangible and obvious, and so it is best to begin here. Then, after we have gathered some experience with the line we will continue on to the point, in order to understand it and experience the range of its possibilities.

The line -- After having defined it as a series of points we will focus on its countless variations, and upon the significance of these: The line actually exists in every aspect of design -- in graphic design, painting, drawing, etc. In these fields it is obviously a prominent main element, as opposed to the more imaginary line that is to be found in the design of automobiles, airplanes, etc. Also in abstract design, where a certain approach is being discussed, there is line -- but its drawing is of the abstract nature, and it can be related to as to a general direction or a specific style. We have chosen to work with the areas of basic and graphic design and through them to reach a breakthrough in the realm of creative thinking.
Every person has his own unlimited storehouse of creative and original thought, by which the human race has made great achievements in technology, science and many other fields. The great inventions such as electricity, the engine, flight, etc., all were born in the creative mind of man.
In order to discover this creative thinking the individual must free himself from various hackneyed and accepted patterns of thought. We will do this by means of exercises as we continue the work.
As we have said, there exists in every person a creative potential to one degree or another, but it can be very difficult to discover. The person himself must know that this quality exists within him. The education that we receive should take more care to develop independent, creative thought. However, in our educational institutions, from kindergarten through elementary and high school, and even into higher education, the emphasis is placed on acquiring knowledge. This is of course important in and of itself, but development of independent, creative thought is largely ignored. It is much easier for a teacher to have his students recite by rote what they heard from him than for him to deal with the creative and independent minority, who ask difficult questions. These, however, are those very people for whom the independent, natural urge to create is burning within, and they are the scientists and artists of the future. The "silent majority", on the other hand, deeply buries this desirable quality and learns to use it sparingly, if at all.
Our aim is to bring this quality to life, to develop it, and through it to help the individual reach satisfaction, the widening of his horizons, greater openness and understanding. These qualities will not only assist us in the achievement of the creative process (which in our case is basis design), but will also add another dimension to our experience as human beings and will make us happier and more at one with ourselves. It is worth adding here that one of the central components of our program is enjoyment, an element that is, unfortunately, often overlooked in education. The significance of something that is done with enjoyment and with the delight of creation is different from that done without them, and so are the lessons learned from the experience. The contribution of any enjoyable learning process is much more significant, both to the teacher and the students.
Many times I have heard my students say that they were amazed at their own creative abilities when they are able to work in an enjoyable atmosphere that fostered the delight of creation.
We will return to the line and to the full range of its variations. In drawing we see clear examples demonstrating how the line can be a basic element with its own power of expression. By means of the line everything can be expressed, without limit or boundary.
There are strong lines and delicate ones, thick and thin, curved and straight, of uniform thickness and of varying thickness, etc., etc. There is no end to the possibilities of the line to acquire and cast off shape. Two main factors influence the line, its creation and its capability of expression: A. the hand of the artist, and B. the instrument that is used.
A. The "hand of the artist" is obviously a figure of speech, for the hand is tied to the head, and it is thought that directs the head. So once again we have returned to thought, which is the source of all our actions. The thoughts of a particular person direct him to create a certain style of line, and in the case of a famous artist, his style is immediately recognizable from just a few lines that bear the signature of his personality. It is amazing to what degree the line is a subconscious personal expression of the person who draws it. This phenomenon is very similar to the personal expression that can be identified in the handwriting of a particular individual.
B. The second factor to influence the line is the writing or drawing instrument that is being used. Black chalk will obviously make a line of a different character and texture than pencil, marker, charcoal, a thin stylus or a radiograph. Each of these instruments has its own particular quality, and we will take advantage of this to expand and vary the range of lines.

Line Exercises
In order to deepen our understanding of the line we must gain experience in making it. There is nothing like experience to illustrate and implant a certain concept in our consciousness.
To understand the concept in the best possible way one exercise is not sufficient. Rather, several exercises will illustrate the concept to us from its every angle and aspect and will ultimately give us the desired result: a profound and broad understanding of the particular concept.
The exercises are built in such a way that they complement each other and constitute a process of development and of delving into the subject.
We will begin with an exercise of the two-dimensional line, we will proceed to relief and sculpture -- three-dimensions, and we will end with a final exercise that combines all the elements.
In this way we will reach a comprehensive understanding of the concept, by working with it on different levels and with different materials.

Stage 1.
Exercise: variations of the two-dimensional line.
Because this is the first exercise it is important in many areas. The old adage has it that all beginnings are difficult, and it surely applies to our case here.
These exercises are applicable to every level of study, from high school to higher education and professional courses.
First, the students are asked to find in themselves ideas (in this case, variations of the line) that they would never have believed existed.
The primary condition for success in this exercise can be summed up in a number of factors of which the student must be made aware. The first of these is self-confidence: the student must be made aware of his ability. "You can. You have the stuff within you, and you only have to bring it out for the world to see." Such confidence comes about through encouragement, an atmosphere of freedom, openness and support, and of course by a teacher who believes in himself, his system and his students. These are the fundamental conditions necessary for the growth of the remarkable plant that we are trying to nurture and develop. This, broadly speaking, is the atmosphere needed for the development of creative thinking, and in regard to our particular subject -- for making variations of the line. There are, of course, scores of possibilities of how to come up with an exercise that will demonstrate to us the unlimited possibilities of expressing the line. We have chosen an exercise that is made up of many (let us say, 12 - 15) pieces of paper on which the variations have been drawn. It should be stressed that these pieces of paper, and especially the first of them, constitute the jumping off point, a kind of internal liberation, as a result of which the line will flow freely and directly onto the paper.
The size of the pieces of paper can be limited -- for example to the dimensions 1 x 10 centimeters; or it is possible to leave the size and the format to the individual choice of each student.
At the start we see hesitation and lack of confidence, and at times the pieces of paper end up in the waste paper basket. But these, of course, are birth pangs, and after serious work we can also see results. In order to complete the exercise in a pleasing and aesthetic way several of the pieces of paper should be chosen -- let us say 9 -- and glued onto another sheet. Black on white is a possibility, in order to make the individual pieces stand out.
Such a finish to the exercise incorporates several other highly valuable educational elements: First, development of proper work habits. Secondly, education about the finish of the work and its presentation. These are the stages of learning:
A. Work habits, learning to cut straight, 90-degree angles with a mat knife, straight and clean finish of the paper.
B. Gluing the pieces onto the background according to the understanding of each student, the first confrontation with organization of the surface and its best use.
C. Influence of the spaces between the pieces regarding the general design.
D. Understanding of the element of the connection and correlation between the elements, which is to say: 1) drawing the lines, 2) choice of the pieces, 3) the thought about the design and organization of the surface, 4) the composition and the reciprocal relationship between the pieces, 5) presentation of the finished work.

Picture1. Variations of Line (Two-dimensional). Student - Orit Dana.


Presentation of the exercise at its conclusion constitutes a high point that is important from several points of view:
A. The student sees his work from a new and different perspective. For example, the student who at home sees his work as extraordinary may see better works than his, or the opposite. B. He receives a measure of comparison. C. In addition there is a degree of feeling of the mutuality of a work group, where everyone makes a contribution. D. The student learns to relate to both positive and negative criticism. In this way he learns from both the good and bad in every work. E. The students acquire for themselves processes of internalizing elements that they have worked with so that they can develop further awareness of the many possibilities of these elements. In this way their ability to make conclusions and to apply them in their following works is enhanced.

Exercise: Variations of Line -- The Relief
What is a relief? In order to gain experience is making a relief we should know what it is. The relief is a kind of small-scale sculpture, that is to say, it is made up of projections but not completely three-dimensional. One side remains flat so that it can be attached to a wall.

Picture 2. Relief Line. Paper. Student - Vered Pundac.

Already in ancient Egypt of approximately 5000 years ago wonderful wall reliefs were being made where the way of life and the tradition of that ancient and talented people were receiving tangible and prominent expression.
The difference between a sculpture and a relief lies in the fact that a sculpture, which can be approached from four sides, possesses an additional dimension. The relief, on the other hand, is a surface with a three-sided projection, where the fourth side remains completely flat. It has depth, from a few millimeters to much more. There are low (bas) reliefs and high ones and in addition views from two sides.
After having explained the essence of the relief we should elaborate upon the possibilities of the choice of material for this work. It is clear that if we want to make a relief we cannot use pencil and paper only, for then we would be staying in the two-dimensional realm. To achieve a certain height, even the smallest, we must use something that protrudes from the surface. It is possible to use string, thread, metal or electrical wire, straw, raffia (fiber), or perhaps pieces of thick paper or cardboard. This is obviously only a partial list of materials, and it can be expanded according to the limits of the imagination.
The question arises -- to what will we glue the projecting materials? Will we choose just one material or combine several? These questions pertain to design proper and we must use our thought processes in order to come up with answers to them. There is no point in gluing string, as variations of the line, on paper or cardboard. In order to achieve the best result from both the point of view of design and the suitability of materials, which also greatly influence design, it is best to look for a material that is suitable for being a background to string. (Suitable, referring here to its structure, appearance, durability and influence.) A piece of wood of any size would be most suitable here. Both the durability of wood and in particular its specific structure and essence -- the fact of its being a natural and authentic material -- make it very suitable and complementary to the string. If we choose to make a relief of variations of the line from pieces of thick paper, then the background should be of cardboard.
This exercise is a free choice one in regard to choice of material and size. This freedom facilitates development of the personal approach and of course increases the motivation to make an effort in choosing the materials and in achieving a unique and original work.

Stage 2 -- Line sculpture
As we have already defined the difference between the sculpture and the relief we will proceed to the main point, which is gaining experience in making one. The given subject is the line and the unlimited possibilities of its expression.
Once again the choice of materials constitutes the first stage of addressing the task. It should be taken into account that most of the students have never experienced making a sculpture and that the task is, of course daunting, as is every new and unknown experience. This fear must be neutralized, and this can be done by repeated emphasis on the fact that this is a learning process whose point is to gain personal experience. From failure it is also possible to learn lessons that can be applied in future works.
In my experience, with the correct instruction and guidance, which is open and encouraging, the lack of failures and the high standards of the result are surprising.
We will return to the sculpture and first to the choice of material. Here it is worthwhile to use this opportunity to speak about "Junk Art", which is common today and which can be seen in the best museums. Working on this kind of sculpture encourages the students to collect old pieces of "trash", to visit dumpsites, factories and other locations where the raw materials are to be found in abundance.
In fact the choice of material or more correctly locating the material is half the work. Sometime some rusty pipe added to another part can become a sculpture of pleasing design. Working with Junk Art opens new horizons of imagination to us. The very act of changing the basic nature of an object demands a high level of creative thought and, of course, acts as a spur to its development. Examples of this could be the transformation of an old crushed pot into a sculpture, the bumper of an automobile that becomes the sculpture of a bird, or a rusty, twisted pipe to which is added one or more parts to create a composition.

These experiences lead to a breakthrough that begins with the rejection of outdated and accepted conventions of thought and results in the creation of art. This process obviously does not transpire overnight, and not with one work, but gradually.
Involvement with it, however, results in a widening of horizons and a development of independent thought. We will return to the sculpture of the line. As mentioned, the choice or location of the material constitutes almost half the work. It is the material that will stimulate our imagination and provide us with the inspiration. The combination of these two elements and its realization will give us the final result -- the sculpture.
I saw a student who found an old lamp with a base in his attic and who built from it an extraordinary sculpture. The conclusion of the exercise is of course the presentation of the works before the class and discussion about them.

Picture 3. Bent Rubber Hose. Student - Lina Mano



Picture 4: Line Sculpture. Pieces of Wood and String. Student - Klier Natan.


Stage 3.
Conclusion of the subject -- the line
The exercise: A combination of the three elements of the subject, the variation of the line: two dimensions, the relief, the sculpture or part of them.
First, explanation of the exercise that will now focus on the use of the techniques collage and assemblage, or perhaps a combination of the two techniques.
The word "collage" comes from the French cole -- to glue. The term refers to glued works, the most famous of which were the collages of Picasso and Braque done at the beginning of the twentieth century, and chiefly to newspaper articles that were combined with oil paintings. This technique is not of course limited to the use of newspaper articles but allows the use of any material that comes to mind. This then is a technique that uses different materials by combining them and gluing them together to create one composition. The word "assemblage" comes from the French assemble -- to join, to collect. It is similar to the collage, but it uses a greater variety of materials and has greater depth of relief, i.e., it is moving toward three-dimensionality. The assemblage is a combination of different items that constitute a single compositional unit and are connected to each other by an idea, or by the adaptation of the material or any other adaptation determined by the designer. In essence both techniques present unlimited possibilities for the use of the material, its gluing together or combination into one complete element.
The goal of the collage or assemblage exercise about the variation of the line will be, then, to combine materials in an idea that expresses the line. This is a free exercise, as regards choice of material, size, and dimensionality -- two or three dimensions. Choice of the work is open to the limits of the imagination, the thought and the will of the student.

The point -- point exercise, two-dimensional
After having worked with the four exercises dealing with the line, including the concluding exercise, we have seen that we are capable of dealing with two dimensions, the relief and three-dimensional sculpture.
We are now faced with the point, which can also be a ball. The point is our point of departure, the beginning of our journey, the conception. With various combinations of points we can arrive at compositions that are surprising as to their quality and diversity. In the first stage we refer to the two-dimensional black or white point made by instruments such as the pencil, the marker, the stylus or the radiograph. The first exercise will be a composition of a combination of points -- two-dimensional of any size. The points, of different sizes and proximity to each other will create different kinds of compositions. At the conclusion of the exercise we will discover the fascinating possibilities revealed to us from the design point of view by the use of one point -- small or large, filled or hollow, close to another point or distanced from it. All these elements influence the final result, revealed to us when the exercise is presented. This will be a kind of rediscovery of this primary and simple element, the small point. Seeing the unlimited possibilities that emerge from its use also constitutes an opening up toward new thoughts and vistas. We will see how the perfect round shape influences the composition and in turn the reciprocal relationships between the shape and the composition.

The Point- Relief
The second exercise will deal with the point relief. Here there will be a free choice of materials and a collecting them together into a complete composition, making use of buttons and bottle caps and other round objects. Here, with the presentation of the finished works we will also find surprises, chiefly as they demonstrate the great influence of the circular shape, both on the composition and on the general concept of the work. Another influencing factor will obviously be the choice of material. Understanding of the mutual influence of these factors will develop during the learning process, leading to the comprehension and internalization of design thinking.

Picture 4b: Relief Point: Plaster and iron wires.



Picture 4c: Relief Plaster.


Stage 4.
Subject of point -- point sculpture
The point now becomes a ball, i.e., a three-dimensional object of perfect shape, one of the perfect basic forms that exist in the universe. Our task in the exercise will be to combine several balls, or perhaps half-balls, into a sculpture. Here also we will first be involved with the choice or location of the material; and clearly if we find interesting and unusual material we have already accomplished half the work. The choice or discovery of the material is not at all a matter of accident. The people who produce the best works are not merely those lucky ones who chanced upon the suitable material, but are those who with thought and acumen located appropriate and exceptional elements. Others may have passed by the same material and simply did not see it or bother to lift it out of the pile of trash. Thought, imagination, and also the daring to overcome social conventions are sometimes required to find the material.
Point sculpture can be made from any kind of metal balls welded together, or even glass balls. A ball of cotton wrapped in a nylon stocking can be an interesting sculpture if the composition is good.
After choosing the material from the unlimited spectrum of possibilities it remains to come up with the idea and execute it. This synthesis between thought and execution, between spirit and material produces the desired result. If the idea remains as something spiritual or theoretical in the mind the person who has conceived it then only half the distance has been traveled. We are interested in reaching the end of the path and in executing a work that can stand the test of criticism. It is also possible at the completion of our treatment of the subject of the point to present a concluding exercise in collage or assemblage, but this is not particularly recommended lest we repeat the same pattern of work.

Picture 5: Point Sculpture. Transparent Perspex with Suspended Balls Made of Stockings Filled with Cotton. Student - Evon Minster.


Picture 2d: Dot sculpture plastic hose and silver foil. Student - Zohar Barak.


Texture Exercise
The aim of the exercise is to clarify and understand the nature of texture. Texture is a kind of repeated pattern. It is composed mainly of different lines. For example, the texture of wood is a particular repetition of the lines of wood and grains, and the texture of jute is the warp and weave of the fabric. Every material actually has its own particular texture, whether it is cardboard, cloth, stone, etc.
The exercise is a kind of assemblage of different textures, combined together and glued against a background that provides a unique and interesting composition. This well demonstrates the nature of the texture and particularly the influence of the elements that are connected with it and its role in the total design. This exercise, which is free also in terms of size, constitutes the opening of yet another window toward wider horizons and deeper understanding of the mysteries of design. Materials used in the exercise can be various burlap bags, the kind of rags used to clean floors, fiber mat, straw, the bark of trees and roots, steel wool, screen, etc.
Here we will also deal with various combinations and materials and their influence on the design. Clearly we will have to come to a decision as to the choice of materials and their compatibility. Should we use only soft materials such as rags, jute, cloth, straw, etc., or should we add hard materials such as iron screen, nails, etc.? Is the harmony and wholeness that we attain by using homogeneous materials preferable, or perhaps the contrast that is achieved by the mixing of different types of clashing materials is desirable? At times it is contrast that creates positive tension in the composition.

Picture 5: Steel screen, nylon stockings, jute and sanitary napkin.
Student - Tufic Said.



Picture 6: Texture. Eggs shells, ropes, wrinkled paper.
Student - Rachel Davidovitz.

In the preceding exercises we used a diverse choice of materials and entered the realm of Junk Art, which is an unlimited source for creative development. Work in this field encourages us to practice free and open thought and, of course, is a spur toward resourcefulness, discovery and imagination. (Not to speak of the great economy that can be achieved in this field, for instead of a large budget for materials only nerve is required here, as all the rest being literally at hand -- all we have to do is pick up -- it doesn't cost money.)
This exercise is one of those elementary exercises in understanding shape, and through that also composition and the reciprocal relationships between these two factors.
We will focus on four fundamental shapes: the circle, the square, the triangle and the rectangle.
We will add to them four line elements and attempt to combine them: 1) the straight line, 2) the diagonal line, 3) the circular line, and 4) the wavy line.
Four each of the four basic shapes we will select one of these elements. For example, for the circle we choose a straight line, or to the triangle we will add the wavy line, and so forth. In the exercise we will use the technique of cutting white paper and gluing it on a black background, or vice versa. From this we will end up with four white squares, for example, of the dimensions 25 x 25 centimeters. On each one of them one of the basic shapes will be glued, and it will be divided by one of the four line elements, which will produce the composition. For example, circle + diagonal line, or square + winding line.
The aim of the exercise, as mentioned, is understanding of and gaining experience with shape and composition and their combination, while at the same time practicing the technique of cutting and gluing. The advantage of this technique is that it allows free play with the shapes before they are glued, and interesting and unconventional compositions are sometimes created as a result. The main factor in creating the composition is the appearance of holes or spaces created by the cutting, and these, as mentioned, present us with new possibilities for arranging the surface.
The four works of each student should be arranged for presentation in a vertical line, each work hung close to the others so that his individual style will be emphasized, as will the difference between his style and others. This exercise is essentially restrictive, since the shapes and size are given. The room for maneuver remaining for the individual student is apparently limited, but remarkable surprises are revealed during the concluding presentation. There are no limits to the expressive possibilities of this exercise despite all its built in limits, and these possibilities find their expression in the great diversity of the works. This diversity is accomplished because of the independent thought of the students, the same thought that we are trying to liberate, develop and give freedom to fly.

We remain with the subject of shape while the raw material we are using is paper, with its many possibilities. Paper is a basic and common material in the field of design, and we will therefore use this opportunity to become acquainted with it in a more fundamental and comprehensive way.
Paper is one of the most useful and available raw materials in our profession. In order for us to fully exploit it for our purposes and according to our desires we should get to know it a little better. There are innumerable kinds of paper, beginning with the simplest kind, newsprint, to coated paper, which we call chrome-paper, and in between these we find rough, smooth, thin and thick kinds of all different qualities. Paper is composed mostly of plant fiber, and today most of these fibers are produced from trees. The differences between types of paper result from the manner of preparation and processing, where in the case of the most sophisticated kinds of paper the wood undergoes complicated preparation processes. First, the raw wood is cooked with chemicals that dissolve the non-fiber components. The product of this cooking process is a pure cell-fiber residue (cellulose) that undergoes additional stages of washing and bleaching. As a final product we received a white fiber pulp. The process has an efficiency of approximately 40%, which is to say that from every metric ton of raw wood about 400 kilograms of bleached cell-fiber is produced.
For certain type's paper, most prominently newsprint, a most important characteristic is that it be cheap. In this case the raw wood undergoes a process where its components are pulverized without being cooked chemically, and about 950 kilos of wood pulp are processed from a ton of raw wood. This pulp is called "mechanical cell-pulp," and from it low quality paper is produced with a low degree of bleaching, low strength, a tendency to yellow, etc. The main advantage here, is of course, its low cost.
Clearly it is important that we present here the entire diverse spectrum of paper while pointing out the possibilities and characteristics of each kind. Chrome-paper does not accept color in a uniform way, while rough watercolor paper is particularly suitable to watercolor work. For most of our exercises we use thick (180 gram) paper (bristol), colored white, or sometimes black. Paper is classified by thickness in millimeters, and of course the thicker it is the more durable it is and easy to work with. There is obviously no point in using thin, easily torn paper for a design exercise in which a great deal of work is to be invested. We will add various kinds of cardboard to the papers we use, and we will become acquainted with these by working them. The first of these and the easiest to use is mat board of 250 grams thickness. This type of thin cardboard has several names, including breakable cardboard, modeling cardboard and performance cardboard, the names themselves alluding to the great diversity of the possibilities of its use. It is used for the construction of models, implementation of ideas in graphic design, and so on. It is thick and durable, and alongside this its breakable quality can be utilized well in work, its color is light cream, and it is slightly rough in texture. It is thus excellent for use with an unlimited number of treatments: scraping, breaking, tearing or cutting, and as many others as the imagination can come up with. For this reason we chose this to be the raw material for the next exercise -- a shape relief. Additionally, experience in working with mat board as a raw material and improvement of basic habits such as cutting and gluing cardboard is very important.

Exercise 3: Shape Relief
As discussed, a relief is a surface of cardboard or other material where the composition on it is projected or raised (this is an element that we have already worked with, ref. Variations of Line - The Relief)
We will focus upon basic shapes in order to simplify the thought and work procedures. The shapes are the circle or half circle, the square, the rectangle, the triangle and parts of these.
Let us propose that we have determined that the size of the background of the relief will be 30 x 30 cm., (or that we have left the determination of the size of the format to the student). The choice of size is most significant in terms of the design of the work. The size (or more correctly, the format) influences the structure, the composition, the proportions and reciprocal relationships between the elements that make up the design. Clearly choice of the format is important so that there is a common denominator for all the works, and this factor is most important in discussion of criticism of the works. However, free choice of the format has its own advantages of course, the chief of these being the student's need to deal with design thinking relating to influence of size and format on the design. And from experience we have already seen that the impact of a small work, even a very good small work, is different from that of large one -- say 1 meter x 1 meter. We should be aware of the influence of size and format on the proportion and general design of the work.
We have determined for ourselves the size and format: rectangle or square. It is certainly worthwhile that we remain within the framework of the use of basic shapes for the background of the work and refrain from using complicated backgrounds such as the triangle, the octagon, etc. Such a background will complicate the work for no good purpose and will divert attention from the main point: construction of a shape relief of apparently simple composition.
We cut several (the quantity according to our choice) basic shapes from mat board and arrange them on the background that we have chosen, it too of mat board.
There is here the important element of composition that we have not yet worked on systematically, though it appears repeatedly in every work and is of great importance. There exercised can be modified using several variations:
1) The first variation is, as explained, the shape relief on which we have organized the basic shapes which we cut from mat board. At the conclusion of the exercise we glue the shapes onto the mat board after playing with them and considering their proper placement. This is made possible since all the shapes have been cut separately and it is possible to move them on the background as we like. The exercise can be carried out using the original color of the mat board, or an element of color can be introduced.
2) Another variation is the same exercise, though instead of one unit, there can be three or four units of the same size. a) only circular shapes organized into a composition, b) square or rectangular shapes, c) only triangular shapes.
3) Or, the fourth unit can be a composition made up of all the basic shapes combined (as in the first exercise). Another possibility for finishing the exercise: painting the mat board with white plastic based paint.
4) Another possibility for the shape relief -- where the emphasis is on a high relief, i.e., not only to cut a shape from the mat board, but also to create bodies such as a cube or a full triangle and to glue them onto the composition against a given background. In this exercise the need for painting the work white or another color becomes evident, because the color will cover up streaks of glue that were left after fastening the shapes to the background. An additional element to be learned in this exercise is working with and learning to make geometric bodies (there is here ample room for combining the exercise with geometry). The exercise in high relief can be done as the co-operative work of several students, where each one contributes his own surface and the combination constitutes a decorative wall.

To conclude the subject of shape, a shape sculpture can be constructed. Here we are not limited; we can choose any shape imaginable and are also free to choose any material. Up to this point we have not experienced such freedom of choice, which can also prove to be an obstacle. "You can't see the forest for the trees" -- and sometimes there are students who find it hard to choose from the innumerable possibilities that present themselves. It is wise to be aware of the difficulties that may arise when the element of free choice is introduced.
Our gaining of design experience has been made gradually, step by step. The exercises were very well circumscribed, but together with that there still remained considerable room for freedom and personal interpretation. With our progress the element of independence will increasingly become a factor and with it the question of what shape to give our sculpture. This is a question that we will leave to the judgment of the teacher. The issue depends on the class. It happens that a particular class does not well accept a three-time repetition of the same pattern of work, of two dimensions, cord and sculpture; and there is no point forcing a work on the students. The factor of enjoyment and as a result increased motivation must remain at the basis of the approach to teaching.
Concession in teaching leaves the responsibility with the student and presents him with a challenge, both of which are positive situations. However, it is of course necessary to know to whom it is possible to yield and to what degree. There are no hard and fast rules to make the decision easy.

Composition is an integral part of any work, and so we have experimented with it since the first exercise. Though the study of design can begin with the subject of composition it is preferable to focus upon it systematically after we have already experienced it, made mistakes and learned lessons. Obviously we should relate to composition from the very beginning of the course, although the subject we are dealing with may be line or point, since composition is part of the work and influences it greatly.
"Composition" comes from the word "compose" -- i.e., to combine, join, to unite, even to organize. In our profession composition is the joining together and organization of specific elements that we have at hand. In our case the elements are the fundamentals of design: line, shape, color, and also material.
From this it emerges that composition is a concept that exists in all the arts. Observing music, where the creator of the music is himself called a composer, we see that he also takes the basic elements of his profession and combines and integrates them into a particular system. This is the musical creation, whether it is a symphony, a cantata, an opera or a song. His basic elements are of course tones and scales, etc., but a common factor pertaining to design and music is the fact that they are both arts, and composition exists in both of them. The major difference between them is the fact that design is more concrete, being seen as a visual system, while music is received through the auditory sense.
Composition also exists in the art of movement, which is dance. The basic elements here are movement, rhythm and organization of space. In architecture there is composition, and in cinema, the seventh art, the "composer" is the director. It is he who combines the basic elements, the script, the actors and the acting, the photography, the sound and the editing into one complete unit. And he also gives the work his own personal interpretation.
The more unique and of stature as an artist is the creator, the greater does his personal signature stand out in his creation.
What are the factors that influence composition?
1) The organization of particular items in the system, 2) the proportions and reciprocal relationships between the items, 3) sizes, 4) proximity or dispersion of items, 5) balance and equilibrium between the items, and 6) tension, the meaning here being positive tension created in composition. The element of contrast -- such as large vs. small, light vs. dark, etc. -- can be added to this list.
These are basically the elements that influence the compositional structure. There is an additional element, and though it is hidden it is of great importance. This is the intuitive feeling indefinable in logical terms. Subjective personality also has an influence here. We should be aware that there are those who like density and close connection, and perhaps contact between the items, while others may prefer airiness and large spaces. As we approach our work on the concept of composition it is clear that practical experience is the best teacher, where the result is the understanding and ability to design a good composition.
There are different kinds of composition: static composition, dynamic composition, symmetric, closed, open, dense, airy composition, etc. We should become acquainted with and gain experience with the various types so that we can use them according to our wishes. Static composition is standing composition, without movement, where its components create the affect of standing -- immobility, while in dynamic composition the components produce the affect of movement and it is symmetry that creates balance.

Composition Exercise - Two Dimensional
It is quite possible to integrate the shape relief exercise here by adding the elements of static, dynamic and symmetric composition to the basic shapes of the three reliefs.
We will however want to add another work to this composition exercise and additionally also the study of the new technique of light and shadow.
On a page of bristol paper 35 x 50 cm., (one quarter sheet) we will draw three compositions of any size, each one equal to or different in size from the others. For instance, there can be three different examples where in each one of the 35 x 50 cm. frames we execute one of the three kinds of compositions: static, dynamic, symmetric. We will again be using the basic shapes. After finishing the drawing, in pencil only, we will fill in the shapes with light and shadow (shading) using a soft pencil, by cross hatching. The shading will give an additional dimension to the character of the exercise, and we will use the exercise to practice this technique, whose main use is in drawing. A variation on the subject of working with the different kinds of composition is an exercise where several different compositions are made on the page. For example, against a background of a white bristol paper seven to nine compositions are made in pencil, i.e., an augmentation of the first three compositions and the addition of another, such as open, closed, etc. Another possibility is to do the first three compositions, and instead of use of the light and shadow technique, to color the work For example:
1) Coloring of the static composition -- coloring that emphasizes its static nature.
2) Coloring of the dynamic composition in a way that emphasizes its dynamism.
3) Symmetric composition -- free choice of color.
Other possibilities for coloring: 1) warm colors, 2) cool colors, 3) complementary colors.

Composition: Exercise -- the relief
Four backgrounds of 40 x 40 cm. The material -- free choice of any kind of paper, where the given limitation is staying within the framework of using paper or cardboard only, and no other material. Here it is useful to once more explain the different kinds of paper we are acquainted with and where it is worthwhile to use them. It is also possible, of course, to use crepe paper, toilet paper, cellophane paper, aluminum foil or packing paper, ribbed packing paper or any kind of cardboard. The subjects of composition are: 1) cutting, 2) weaving, 3) wrinkling, and 4) tearing. Using the paper and the given technique we must express the subject. There are close reciprocal relationships between the technique, the subject and the material. In actuality they constitute one entity, and only thought will transform the exercise from a mere assembly of different kinds of paper to a unique and original work that stands on its own merits.
In the case of the cutting technique, for example, there are innumerable possibilities for creating interesting works -- by repeating the pattern, for instance, or cutting in a different way. In the case of weaving, once more there are innumerable possibilities. It is possible to use paper of the same kind or to combine different kinds of paper, it is possible to emphasize contrasts by using different colors (of paper) or textures, etc., or to make a point of using the same color of paper.
These techniques (cutting and weaving) are techniques of construction, while there are techniques that carry a negative connotation and are controlled by involuntary urges. We chose tearing and wrinkling in order to design works using "negative" techniques. Here we have to change our direction of thought, experiencing a transfer from a random impulse to a controlled and directed technique. We must alter the urge to tear randomly into an act that occurs as a result of creative thought. At times we may have difficulty in finding the ability to effect this transfer, but if we become conscious of it the difficulty will disappear.
It is amazing to see the results of this exercise. Most of the students themselves are surprised to see the originality and great diversity of the works and the unlimited possibilities to which the materials can be put to use and exploited. And a reminder -- we used only different kinds of paper and cardboard.
The concluding discussion about this work is always especially interesting, as are the lessons learned from the exercise. In this work we became exposed to different compositions, to novel ways of thinking about something known and banal, and to the seeing of new and unlimited possibilities.

Picture 7. Wrinkling: Packing paper on ribbed cardboard (from packing boxes).
Student - Kogan Sarit.

Conclusion of the subject of composition.
In concluding the subject of composition, which usually occurs at the end of the semester it is desirable that we come up with a new and different exercise. Its aim will be to unite the fundamentals of design as we have experienced them -- the line, the point, composition, acquaintance with various materials and most importantly the opening of new horizons to creative thought. A suitable exercise is one of appliqu?, a free composition using cloth. I have chosen the subject of the appliqu? for several reasons. Although we have experienced different materials we have not yet worked with cloth and fabric remnants. Cloth, with its characteristics of softness and flexibility exerts an entirely different influence on the design than do the other materials we have experienced and once again demands a new direction in thinking.
This new way of thinking will be applied together with the need to enlist all the knowledge that has been acquired to this point in the fields of shape and organization of the surface -- in other words, composition. What is appliqu?? The origin of the word is French, to glue or to sew.
The exercise is a completely free composition, without givens, and without a determined and defined framework. Everything is free and up to the personal choice of the student. The only requirement is that the appliqu? technique be used and that the material will be various kinds of cloth, including jute and burlap. The technique can be expressed by sewing on a background with or without filling, or by gluing the cloth.
First the students prepare a sketch on transparent paper, the size according to individual choice. The students then work according to the sketch, cutting the cloth and sewing or gluing it onto the background. The sewing can be done by hand or by machine (here there are also limitless possibilities).
This exercise as a conclusion generally arouses great enthusiasm, and the students invest serious effort both in design and composition and in the choice of the cloth and its color. This is, incidentally, the first time that the issue of color has played a main role within the framework of basic design. Until now we have made a separation between the theory of color and the study of basic design. Within the framework of basic design and the basic exercises we worked only in black and white and the natural colors of the materials, in order to focus on shape and composition. And although color belongs in the realm of basic design it is taught as a separate subject and it has its own good and extensive biography.
Once again during the concluding discussion about the exercise we are surprised and delighted when sheets of cloth with interesting and diverse compositions are spread out before us.

Second Semester
From this point we move to the next stage in the development of design thinking. The most significant difference between this and the last semester will be found in the exercises. These will be freer and less defined, demanding from the student great effort of thought. The challenge that we face is the translation of an abstract idea or concept into the language of design, which is to say shape, color, composition and material.

Three Stage Exercise - Reincarnation of a pepper (or another object)
This is the first exercise on the new path we have set out upon. It transports us gradually from the concrete to the abstract.

Stage 1
Materials Drawing. Drawing of a pepper (or any other object, vegetable, etc.) Each student brings his own personal pepper and sketches it on white paper with a soft pencil, rendering it as realistic as possible, in the technique of the "materials sketch", a kind of copying of nature by means of light and shadow. Size of the page and the drawing is up to the student.

Picture 8: Drawing of Pepper. Student - Yaffa Grosman.

Stage 2
Two-dimensional graphic development, associative.
Before us are the drawing and the original pepper. Stage 1 revealed to us the pepper's secrets -- its form and structure, its proportionality, its texture and its content. While contemplating its particular shape various associations no doubt arose in our minds. Now is the time to translate those associations into the language of shape and composition. It is as if we dismantle the pepper into its fundamental elements and create it anew. Perhaps we also contribute an idea that arose in our consciousness, such as birth, or withering, etc. All this is to be done on paper (two-dimensional) with any technique that we choose. We can use drawing in color, collage, and any other technique that serves to translate our association. The result should be a free association about the subject of the pepper. This is actually our first experience with the translation of an idea into the language of design.

Stage 3
Sculpture on the basis of the pepper. The same pepper that we brought to our first lesson basically undergoes a kind of metamorphoses. Stage 1 -- Materials drawing, copying the natural pepper, Stage 2 -- Two-dimensional graphic development that presents a new idea about the pepper, and now Stage 3 -- A sculpture or series of sculptures as a conceptual continuation or new idea.
In one such especially successful exercise the original pepper became a puppet theater of interesting and original design. In this exercise we have followed the thought process that we went through beginning with the drawing of the pepper, to the graphic development and finally to three dimensions.

Picture 9: Pepper. Relief. Colored mat board, cellophane background and on it a relief similar to sculpted abstract pepper. Student - Yaffa Grosman.

Picture 10: Sculpture. Pepper, three dimensions. Steel screen and other materials. Student - Yaffa Grosman.

After this first experience it will not be difficult for us to move to the next assignment: translation of an abstract idea to the language of shape and composition, i.e., the language of design.

Picture 11: Reincarnation of an object (Shoe). Student- Evon Minster.

Suggested abstract subjects for three-dimensional exercises:
1) The development of or the cycles of life. In explaining this exercise it is advisable to initiate a discussion and to touch upon the possibilities that exist, for example, development from birth, to youth, maturity and old age. This can be a kind of mixed media in four stages that allows us to put elements into four different frames, or perhaps four wooden boxes, where in each one an element appears that expresses the subject: Perhaps an old, broken doll for childhood, a twisted, ticking watch for old age, etc. Another variation for the subject of development -- the stages of the development of the pupa of a butterfly. This subject is more concrete, but in order to express it in an original way a great deal of thought must be invested. There are countless possibilities for the subject of development, and it is best that every student think about it for himself.
2) The four classic elements of existence -- air, water, fire, earth. Expressing these four elements graphically in three dimensions.

The first challenge of this exercise is in the realm of thought, to find the morphological element that expresses the subject. For example, how can water be expressed? Should the student bring a bowl full of water? Banal. Or should a different material, such as paper, cloth, metal or glass of a certain shape be found that will express water in an associative way.

Picture 13: "Kitsch". Assemblage. Kitsch elements Materials.
Student - Vered Pundac.

We arrived at the subject of "kitsch" and "ant-kitsch" because of a certain class where most of the works were indeed "kitsch". Explanations, discussions, and endless experiments failed to clarify the meaning of the term, and I understood that the concept together with its sociological, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be made comprehensible by frontal explanation. Personal experience, the process of doing, will contribute to the understanding of the phenomenon, and this understanding will later aid in the choice of subject. That is to say, there is here no prohibition against working with kitsch, which is sometimes called "poor taste" or "artistic rubbish", and everything connected with it. Rather, there is here a process of understanding, acquaintance and experience, as a result of which each student can decide whether or not kitsch is to his taste.
The students were requested to bring to the next meeting one work that would be as kitsch as possible, but not to bring one element of kitsch, but to combine several of such elements -- perhaps a kind of assemblage. I wanted them to produce the epitome of kitsch. One student brought "a fruit tray" of kitsch, while a second also brought "a fruit tray," but this one was anti-kitsch. The works appear in the photograph and the differences speak for themselves.
This subject also gave rise to interested interpretations, and it lends itself to many possibilities of interesting expression.

Picture 12: Anti kitsch. Fruit tray made from green painted steel.
Student - Vered Pundac.

It is interesting that the discussion about kitsch and anti-kitsch was more lively and stormy than usual.
The sociological significance of kitsch lies just beneath the surface and produces a fertile discussion. There is apparently something in kitsch that mainly influences the human sub-conscious. After all, why is kitsch so prevalent in so many areas of our lives?
Another subject can be that of the "square" head as opposed to the more flexible mind. The meaning here is also not to actually make a head from some material, where one would be round while the other is square. Design thinking, the process of thought that we are trying to develop and teach, deals with a very broad totality of meanings. We will attempt to break the idea down into its basic elements so that we can understand it and once more unite it. How does an original idea for a given subject come into being? There are of course unlimited possibilities. First the idea is born and only later comes the choice of material and the technique of work, and at other times it is the material that is the source of inspiration and in its wake the idea is born. There is no one correct way here, for all the roads lead to the right result and correct possibilities.

Another subject for work, interesting and contemporary, is cleanliness and pollution. For the exercise one student brought four stages of a landscape (in the shape of a relief) that started out as clean, gradually became polluted and in the final stage was completely blackened and polluted.
It is possible to broaden this idea into the general subject, "contrasts". For example: hard and soft, smooth and rough, dry and wet, shiny and dull, war and peace, happy and sad, etc.

Picture 14: Contrasts. Clean and Polluted. Glass surface, black charcoal.
Student - Avigail Vinberg.


Picture 14a: Contrast. Standing- falling cardboard painted black.
Student - Etia Shtedler.

Another interesting subject is that of stone and the basic shapes. Perhaps because the subject of stones interests me personally it seems to me that this subject is especially successful, with fascinating possibilities.
Here we take any rock, i.e. an element from nature, or many rocks and add to them any basic shape. Here we are dealing with the element of composition from a different angle, that is, we are taking something (the rock) ready and finding or combining it with another morphological element.
Our thought is that the two elements together will create a new shape or morphological alignment.

Before us are two examples of the many that were discussed:

Picture 15: basic shape of metal painted red with small rocks twisted into it.
Student - Vered Pundac.


Picture 16: Three-sided mirror and a rock placed on the base so that the reflection creates a new alignment. Student - Klier Natan.

To conclude the year I presented the subject "I" in both two and three dimensions. Each student had to express himself in his work, and indeed it was fascinating to see their works in the concluding lesson.
In photograph 16 we see a work of metal squares in a structure that rises until it reaches a peak. And indeed this student had been "square" at her base (there is no intention here of imparting a negative connotation), but her basic squareness became focussed and developed toward a breakthrough. That was indeed the process that she had undergone and it was tangibly expressed in the work we see.

Picture 17: shows a black wooden triangle, with an electric wire and red plug fitted onto it. Student - Atiai Shtedel.


Picture 18: self expression, myself. Human beings are basically square,
with the option of braking through and freeing themselves. Metal plates.
Student - Avigail Vineberg.

Here the student expresses his personality, which is chiefly characterized by his antennae, his intellectual curiosity.
To sum up the process that we have gone through in the development of creative thought, widening of horizons and new and fresh seeing I will present some of the comments of the students at the end of the first semester.

Lina: Personally, I think that I really enjoyed the work. I did things that I never thought I could do. The semester with its work enriched me from the point of view of creative thinking and change in my relation to objects and details. When I looked at an object, in my eyes it became a line or point sculpture. I think that all the students felt that they progressed.
Esti: I really began from zero, and I think that here I made one of the biggest steps in my life. This semester was great.
Yvonne: These classes were the most interesting for me. I feel like raw material that has been changed in this process of experiencing and developing.
Shoshi: Basic design was difficult for me. At the beginning I didn't understand what they wanted from me, but over time the thinking cleared up and went off in a new direction. From there it grew.
Ariela: I enjoyed myself. Design enriched me and contributed to my knowledge. I discovered new and meaningful things and for me this was a breakthrough. I felt a deep inner development.
Vered: Your ability to get into my shoes produced in me the enjoyment of biting the bullet -- to really exert effort in my work. The honesty, esteem and empathy that was created between you and your students without doubt led to their self-confidence and appreciation of the value within each of them and their ability to create.

I enjoyed myself in a way that is perhaps difficult to describe in words, and I think that it is their works that are speaking from my lips.

Dina Merhav.

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