Zoom in again by Karen Alderson


One approach to the creative process is called the ‘Zoom in Zoom out, Zoom in” method (Cracking the Creativity Code by Arie Ruttenberg & Shlomo Maital) where you alternate between really looking at the subject of your investigation, coming away and investigating related fields and contexts then returning to it. I have followed this structure by looking closely at the map, walking the route and am now returning to the original object. I came back to this image of the topographical map.


The area that took my interest was the layers of veneer in the right hand corner. Using a scalpel I cut out the dark layers and made a stencil.


I used the stencil to make some images.



After using the stencil I put a clean piece of card onto it to take a ghost print and this was the result.


This is the image from the back of the stencil after it had been used with spray paint.


I took both of these images and edited them.




I took a copy of one and cut into the edges of the shapes, I inked over the surface and took a photograph of the underside.



I made a print block by scoring the shapes into the surface of a pizza base. These are some of the images I created by inking up the block.


I cut more shapes out of tracing paper and put them on a piece of white card and wiped it with ink, I then removed the tracing paper shapes.


I then cut out the shapes on the card and as I was doing so some of the card shapes stuck and so I decided to cut them all so that they remained fixed to the card at the top and bottom of the shape.



I shone a light onto the back of the card and got some interesting shapes.


I took some of these images and repeated them in a word document, printed them off then put the image over some carbon paper and traced the shapes with a sharp awl, moving the paper as I went.



As I traced over the shapes I daydreamed about being a nurse and suturing wounds. Returning to the card with partially cut out shapes I removed the shapes and added stitches.


I decided to make marks with a piece of card and black acrylic paint on tracing paper.


This reminded me of rows of curved suture needles and the railings that had been misshaped after the impact of a vehicle crash.  I also liked the marks made by the paint on the far right and corner, close up they look like knots or commas. I want to replicate these marks in stitch.

I had some thread left over from stitching so I put it into red iron oxide acrylic paint and made some prints.I then cut out the strip of marks and placed them at the bottom of the print to experiment with pattern.


It felt good to return to visual research after walking and filming. The two types of research are related, working simultaneously with an internal and external landscape. I am not sure how the dialogue between them will manifest, I am not intending to synthesize them into a whole, I’m more interested in the juxtaposition.

I have begun to meditate again and am making decisions about visual research as I work rather than having a plan. This feels less pressured, less controlled, more exciting. I do not “know” consciously what I will be doing next or what ideas will come from the materials. In one sense it mirrors the psychogeorgraphy process where I did not have destination in mind but was open to investigation, to what happens, to being disrupted and being aware of nuances and subtle shifts in experience. It is like a shamanic medicine walk, a shamanic research process, I’m sure there is a technical term. I like the results and am formulating a 3D piece that I want to finish by the end of the year.


2 thoughts on “Zoom in again by Karen Alderson

  1. What a wonderful creative journey, quite fascinating and such beautiful images. Initially only the text of the blog had downloaded on my iPad, which was a good read in itself but left me frustrated by lack of images……..and then they came!! It was so exciting, like turning the pages of a magical book, and feeling in some way to be sharing Karen’s own curiosity and vivid imagination. It underlines the importance of the whole business of looking, and looking some more, and then really looking that gets you into such new and exciting places. I loved the white almost snow like images coming off the inked up block from the scored pizza base, as I do the tracing and daydreaming process that led into the images with the sutures. The patterns produced with the red iron oxide and thread were very powerful and made me think of blood and surgery, which was a bit uncomfortable. But these can only ever be our own subjective reactions so…..how do you measure their value. How do you measure beauty within an image, a being, a landscape, a sound? We live in times increasingly dominated by trying to measure ‘worth’. It’s crazy. Karen’s blog is such a refreshing insight into reminding us of the important values in life and the joy that these values can bring. There’s so much here, the journey, both literally and therapeutically, the creative exploration, the strong narrative and delight in the detail. Just great stuff, thank you Karen.


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