New work: February 2021
Image#2 Here and Gone
16" x 20" painted paper collage
By about mid month I was certain that there would be no newsletter for February. Why is that you ask? Because I didn't think I would have any completed work to show. None. Zip. Zilch. I don't know if I actually am experiencing some mental changes or if it is just too much pandemic time or what but I have slowed down immeasurably.
Luckily, things turned around a bit and I was able to reconnect enough with myself to get some work together. I am pleased with the results. My ideas this month came from something I remember from my childhood. I recall going to museums, looking at the exhibits and seeing cases of artifacts. Tools, pottery, small bits of someone's lifetime, all on display in these flat or standing glass cases. I like this sort of stuff. Dioramas, exhibits, and collections of things always seem to catch my attention. I think I am drawn to the organization; the spatial arrangement of objects. This shows up in my work I think in the way that I arrange shapes and colors and lines on the page. I can look back at many of my collages and see this idea again and again. These current pieces are no different. It was a real challenge to put each piece in what I felt was the "right" place.
In looking back at my notes for the month (I make notations in my sketchbook each day) I can see that I had a few things on my mind. The idea of artifacts is one thing. What is left behind after we are gone? Fossils are another idea. I read a bit in a book a while back about how our civilization, when it is gone, will be just a continuous thin band in the geological record, similar to the K-2/K-Pg boundary, if you are familiar with that idea. I was also thinking about hieroglyphics, writing, and cultural appropriation. (There is more to Egyptian culture than Cleopatra, snakes, and togas.) The concept of deep time was also on my mind as well as the heating and cooling of the earth. I love these ideas; love reading about them and thinking about them. It's what keeps me attached to this world.
All of this is to say that I had some things on mind while I was working and while I can't say that the pieces overtly represent that, I do think they tell a story. It's really up to the viewer to supply the details of what they see.
This month I started to take an online workshop from the wonderful Nicholas Wilton. I just love this guy. I like his work and he really talks my language with regard to design. I had to stop though. First, I became a bit disengaged. And then, it was just overwhelming. It has taken me a long time to develop my own ideas about what I like and to figure out what my own "rules" are. (They are very similar to Nick's principles.) Honestly, I want to continue pursuing what I have put together for myself and as much as I like Nicholas, I felt that his ideas might overtake me a bit, if that makes sense. I absolutely only want to hear my own voice. It's a fragile thing, trust me!
Alright, thanks for reading if you made it this far. Have some comments? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Work: January 2021
16" x 20"
painted and frottaged papers
A Way Forward
16" x 20"
painted and frottaged papers
It's always difficult to start something a little new after you have done something for a while that seems to be working. Such was the case this month as I found myself pivoting once again in a slightly different direction with my work.
The first piece shown is in the same style in which I have been working for a while now. It was completed after several weeks of work. It's no secret that the Pandemic has derailed us all. Recent events haven't helped either with focusing. Additionally many people still have to deal with personal problems on top of everything else, myself included. So, January was a slow month for me, work wise. I am happy with this piece though, both because of what I learned and also because of what I decided the piece could be about.
In making this collage I learned a little more about combining patterns and colors and values (light and dark). Those are hard variables to manipulate and I continue to try and get better at this skill.
The inspiration for the piece was a little easier. I drew on some reading that I have done recently about genes, the human genome, and migration: essentially, how our genes may have been dispersed throughout our collective (man's) history. It's fascinating to think about the intersection of geology (think about Pangea) and the evolution of man. All of the natural forces that have come into play to allow man to travel around the Earth, dispersing his genes. I think this is particularly important in light of all of our issues around race and gender and who we are as a society. How we relate to one another and see each other. How we want to be going forward. Those are big and deep questions and certainly not ones that I can answer with my art. But, I can think about them which is important.
The second piece shown above alludes to what I was writing about earlier in the post. I now find myself once again trying out a new idea but combining it with an older way of working. As much as I love the frottaged papers that I have been making, I dearly miss the solid colors that I have used in the past. I wanted to get back to them but wasn't sure how without feeling like I was moving backwards. Ideas come together though and I started to think about hieroglyphics (I watched a NOVA special about writing), narratives, and using the picture plane differently than I have been. (Remember that the picture plane, the way I see it, is the flat piece of paper or canvas that you work on.) I like the idea of telling a story with art. Even if it is only a story that you get or if the viewer gets a different story, I still really believe in this effort to communicate somehow, creatively. I decided to just use simple shapes, mostly separated from each other on the page, and see what story I might tell. And though I like my initial efforts, it isn't exactly what I want. So, I will be trying again with another piece very soon.
With that said, I want to mention this point since I keep learning and relearning it. In many cases, it's important to try something new and give it an honest evaluation. I have made and done many "first efforts" with my art only to realize that I was going in the wrong direction. You really need to have a "screw it, let me just try this" kind of attitude. The honest evaluation isn't whether or not the finished product is any good (it likely won't be) but how did you feel while you were making it? Do you like using those materials? Does the piece reflect your own ideas or those of someone else? While making the piece were you wildly uncomfortable in a good or bad way? Is there anything worth pursuing? These are questions you can't answer unless you try whatever it is that you are thinking about. I know I like the hieroglyphic idea and I know I like the drawings that I have done in my sketchbook (I didn't show these) with colored pens. So, how to translate that to the finished collage? Or, do I just like the drawings? Or, do I just want to go back to using solid colored paper? Those are all questions worth asking and trying to find out about. It's not brain surgery. The patient is not going to die. Just make the work and ask the questions and see what happens.
OK, on to February. Please feel free to email if you would like.