Okay, so this post isn't entirely art-related. It's more of a note to myself about how to approach new material structurally using some critical thinking. I find that if I write something down like this, the process of writing tends to reinforce the idea in my own mind.
During this art test I'm working on, I've hit a couple spots where the concept I'm working from didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I've had to improvise. Anyone who works from concept is bound to come across this, at some point. For just a moment, I get the thought, "Well, now what in the Hell do I do?!" It's a brief moment of panic that happens especially when working on something very important or with a tight deadline.
How to overcome this:
So the easiest way to tackle a big problem is to break things down into smaller bits of information and ask myself some questions about what's going on. In the example of working from concept, I ask myself which parts DO make sense? I then focus my attention on those parts, arranging them where they need to go. Once I get those parts nailed down, I can proceed to built upon them. "The part I put in needs to be attached to another part..."
From here, hitting up reference is a good idea. See how similar structures are put together. Sometimes, it can even be beneficial to use a certain structure in an unconventional way. As long as it keeps in line with the feel of the concept, it's fair game, in my opinion. I used to get really into tearing apart art that wouldn't work in the real world. Even fantasy stuff: "That floating Wizard's robes would TOTALLY be floating, too!" But the more and more I switch gears from examining Art in a technical mindset and move more toward a compositional ideology, the more I realize rules are made to be broken. "That Wizard's clothing might float too, but having it drape down like that gives him a more weighty feel, and it also helps add a sort of mystical irony to the physics... a sort of eerie quality."
Anyway, so once I have some good reference for what these theoretical "connecting" pieces should be, I can go to town inventing what might work for the situation. In the end, it's about making something that looks cool and commands the viewer's attention.
So there's my little note to myself. Hope it might help someone else out, too!