New Work: April 2021
16" x 20"
painted paper collage on matboard
Happy Spring/Summer to everyone. I can hardly believe that we are approaching warmer weather and a new season. I love the Winter time but understand that it can't be Winter forever. So, on to Spring and Summer!
April was a bit of a blur. I took two vacations, completed my vaccine cycle, and we just had our first close-enough-to-scare-the-hell-out-of-me grass fire. It was across the highway from where I live and up on the ridge. It's going to be a busy fire season I am sure and unfortunately, we are just getting started. But, on to better news.
I have a new collage to share which is a good thing. I wasn't sure I would complete anything for April. (As mentioned in my last newsletter, I have been diagnosed with IBS and I am still finding it challenging to work steadily or consistently.) Luckily, I did finish a piece and am excited to talk about what is going on.
I am continuing to explore the idea of "hieroglyphs". The idea that communication can be represented through pictures, whether those pictures convey letters, words or ideas, is very interesting to me. How language started; how the written word began. Those are ideas that can keep my mind occupied.
For this current collage, I wanted to do two things: use shapes to somewhat represent ideas or even possibly words and then also use those shapes to play around with the design variables of color, value (contrast), and line. I didn't want any of the shapes to overlap (use of space is important to me, design-wise) and I wanted to make sure that I touched on the ideas of repetition and variation. I am happy with the results, particularly the colors. Adding the orange/coral color really tied everything together.
It feels good to me that even though I am distracted I can still access the part of me that is interested in my art. That ability to tap into what drives you is important for anyone who has a hobby or interest that occupies their time. It's when you can't connect with that inner drive/interest/motivation that you run into trouble.
It would be fair to ask at this point if the collage has a particular meaning. Am I trying to say something or tell a story? Not exactly, but, maybe "yes"! If the collage has a "subject" if could have come from several places. Lately, I have been looking at a home improvement book to get inspired for sketching. Some of the shapes are based on tools or figures that I saw. For meaning and reference in my collages though, I do always go back to what I think of as "pseudo pre historic" animals or beings. Lots of the shapes end up looking like creatures to me. My mind wanders to books on evolution, biology or geology. I often lookup images that I have seen on the Internet and have saved in an electronic file. I feel lucky that I have sources to draw upon when it comes time to make and cut shapes.
In answer to that question though, is there a subject for this piece, I did eventually develop an idea of what the collage could be saying. In this case, I drew on a familiar-to-me theme: life on earth and its beginnings. That idea became a kind of reference point for me. I thought about the concept of "synthesis"; how several things can come together to create a kind of new thing or a solution to something. This idea was echoed by me bringing together both harder and softer shapes, contrasting and analogous colors, and lines that are both parallel and directional. For me, that's a kind of synthesis. Not as grand as the beginning of life as we know it but still. Not too bad!
And as always, if you are reading, I'd like to know what it is that you see in the piece. I am never hung up on what people tell me that they can relate to or of what the collage reminds them of. (Except if it is derogatory then don't bother mentioning it to me please.) The point of me making the collages and sharing them is to get my ideas out. What the viewer sees and tells me about is a bonus!
Hope that everyone has had a good month. Get ready for May. Let it be a productive and happy month for us all.
New Work: March 2021
Here Now There
16" x 20"
painted paper collage on matboard
March got off to a slow start for me and honestly, it never really picked up in an artistic sense. I mean to say that I only completed one piece this month. Productivity sometimes slows down and I am learning to be OK when that happens.
Originally when I started the above piece, I was reading Rachel Carson's book, The Sea Around Us. It got me thinking about how life started on this planet; about all of the variables that must have come in to play for life to generate. As far as I know, scientists still don't know how life actually began. There are solid theories of course but just exactly what happened is still a mystery. I began to then think about the diversity of life on our planet. It's astonishing to consider all that is alive here on Earth, from human beings on down to the smallest bits of bacteria. Life, with its astonishing variety and abundance, is complex and amazing.
As I worked along on this piece, I also began to think about the recent landing of Perseverance, the rover that just set down on Mars. We are looking for signs of life on another planet and asking this question: "Does Mars have what is necessary to sustain any kind of life form?" I think that anyone who knows me can guess what I think of this idea, of screwing up another planet. Nevertheless, questioning and exploration seem to be intrinsically settled in our collective psyches and so go we must.
With regard to the shapes and images in this collage, I decided to use the funnel head figure again. I really like this guy. he is sort of my own version of EveryMan. Originally though he was a green color and looked too much like Gumby. Not bad but just not the look I was going for. Many of the shapes in this new piece are taken from my sketchbook. They all sort of look "creature" like to me even though the shapes are derived from other things such as tools or other random marks and ideas. And I have to say that sketching is a great place to look for shapes. It's kind of like having a savings account that you forgot about and then rediscover. Oh boy!
April will be a busy month for me. I am taking two vacations, I have my birthday, and I am getting my second vaccine shot. It's also prime wildflower time so there will certainly be some hiking. All of this is to say that art making may continue to be a little less than usual. I am going to try though to maintain a better routine when it comes to being creative. A routine really helps.
The idea of having a routine brings me to my last point for this post. After nearly two years of struggling and flailing along, I was finally diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The good news is that I don't have a disease that will kill me or alter my GI tract permanently, such as an IBD would (think Ulcerative Colitis). The bad news is that IBS is a condition that doesn't go away and needs to be constantly managed. My entire routine has been thrown off. I do have two new medications that seem to be helping. Relief though doesn't mean that the condition has gone away but only that I have lowered the discomfort threshold. I am hopeful that my creative life (and the rest of my life for that matter) will regain some normalcy.
And with that, on to April! Thank you for reading. Feel free to send me an email here: