New work: Alice and The Really Real
It's hard not to think about how much time I spend on the computer or my phone, tracking down things that we want or need or trying to answer questions or just checking in socially to see what people are up to. All of those hours can't ever be gotten back. Frankly, it depresses me. On the other hand, it also prompts some thinking and apparently, some art making.
On my walk last week, I thought about the Internet and how much of a "rabbit hole" it is. A person could certainly fall into this hole and not know up from down, wrong from right or reality from fantasy. The situation today reminds me of the novel, Alice in Wonderland. Poor Alice! She starts out as a logical young girl but gets drawn into a complete farce of an adventure. Things are the opposite of how they should be and things happen that shouldn't happen. Anyone else out there feel like Alice at times? I certainly do.
It seems to me that there is a parallel between this whimsical and satirical novel and our current obsession with The Internet. Technology has changed our lives in so many ways. It feels like the world is topsy turvy at times. Our ability to discern the difference between reality and fantasy is fading quickly. Much as Alice does in the novel, we have come to accept the hyperbolic, the ludicrous and the ridiculous as perfectly OK. Outlandish behavior and talk seems to be the new normal. Where will it end I wonder?
For the above piece, I knew I wanted to use some particular imagery that represented things from today and things from the Alice novel. I started with the idea of how we get our information. The computer monitor/television set with rabbit ears and antenna are representative of new and old technology. The clocks (in graduating sizes) both represent how we spend our time but also make reference to the novel where Alice continually grows and shrinks. Additionally, the novel was written in 1865 and so I used the time for each clock to show that. The green "rabbit hole" on the left side, the water at the bottom (Alice cries so much that she swims around in her own tears), the Cheshire cat, and the flowers are all images from the novel. (I refrained from putting faces on those flowers!) They all represent the absurd that is taken as the normal.
The most difficult portion for me was the "two Alice" image. I am very self conscious about adding figures yet I really want to do this. So, I tried and am happy with the results. Alice's experience is so disjointed. I felt that having Alice in different parts (her skirt, her profile and her neck/torso as the monitor stand) would at least convey the idea of her strange experience. For me, our experience on the Internet is similar. I have one life on the computer and another life with Rich and still another life outside of all that when I leave the house. Sometimes it feels chopped up. It doesn't matter though because at the end of the day, we must face ourselves (like Alice facing herself in the above piece) and decide what is "really real."
It's always tough when an artist has an idea in mind. Did they get the point across effectively? Honestly, I am not sure it really matters for me. For me, images are personal and specific. Will this piece be understood differently by different people? Certainly. Perhaps even misunderstood. That's OK. Right now, it just matters that I followed through on my thoughts and made some art to reflect that.
I didn't mention everything about the piece so if anyone reading sees something or wants to chat just send me an email. I hope the piece (and the post) spark some ideas!
By now, I have read a lot about creativity. How-to manuals from successful artists are popular (as well as online articles from amateurs) and from what I can gather, there are some common denominators to the creative process. By far my favorite, and the one I use most often, is the bringing together of two disparate ideas to create a third and new idea. This third idea is an idea in and of itself, may contain elements from the first two ideas, but is essentially its own entity. I think we all do this in one form or another. My personal take on this process involves collecting different ideas and seeing what might fit together. Not forcing things but just seeing how the tumblers fall into place (if they do at all which is a post for another day). Sometimes it works and sometimes, well, not, so much.
For the above piece, I was on my walk and the title just kind of popped into my head. From there, I started thinking about some programs I have been watching lately on NOVA. I watched a series of programs about the planets and a couple of documentaries about the Apollo missions-essentially how we got three guys to the moon and back, safely and in one piece. There was also a program some time ago that I watched that had to do with the meteor that scientists think killed off the dinosaurs (and everything else for that matter). I have read a book about evolution and am currently reading a book about Abraham Lincoln and Darwin. In short, I had collected some materials. I think it isn't surprising that the title of the piece, the idea, came to me like it did.
I'd like to say that I wasn't stuck about halfway through but that would be a lie. What I figured out was that being too literal hangs me up. I wanted to duplicate the Apollo 11 spacecraft, all of its components. In the end, it wasn't necessary to be that specific. I also couldn't make the gingko leaves work with the rocket as I had originally planned. So, I had to let go and rethink the idea. I'll pass along this piece of free and good advice: next time you are stuck, ask yourself this question:"If I didn't do this, what else could I do?" In other words, if you let go of a set idea what else could be possible? What else can you make room for? This really works, trust me.
In the end, I was pleased with my thinking. I didn't abandon my original idea but just edited it and added to it. Being flexible enough but firm enough in my thinking helped. I am happy to reference space travel in a general way and ultimately, the piece made me think about quick time and deep time, space travel versus meteors and evolution/extinction.
I'd be curious to know what others get out of this piece. Even if it just appears whimsical and pleasing, let me know.
PS-The blue "shelf" in the lower right corner is a nod to Jackson Browne, songwriter extraordinaire, and his song "Leaving Winslow" in which he sings about the disappearing Greenland shelf.
painted paper collage on matboard
12" x 16"
It's funny because this piece was just supposed to be a way to use up leftover scraps after the last piece. I started by adding a few shapes here and there. Nothing much was happening though until I added the large and central green leaf shape. That was interesting (kind of bold because of the darker value and size of the shape) but then I added the pink curve beneath the leaves and well, I was off and running! It looked like a person with a hat and I couldn't help but laugh at that.
Over the course of a couple days I kept adding random, small things. Nothing big though to pull the piece together. There wasn't a cohesive storyline yet (I am not sure there is now) but in my mind I had sort of a "prehistoric/garden/floral" theme pictured. I added shapes that I thought might fit that idea and things started to come together.
As I began to wind up the piece, I knew that the large green leaf shape felt empty. (There was nothing inside of it yet.) It seemed like a repetition of the flower motif would work but my laziness prevented me from digging in to that decision. I tried other things but nothing really clicked. Finally, I just bit the bullet and tried out one flower shape. I knew it would work and so I cut more flowers, arranged them and added the centers. It really pulled everything together and gave an "overallness" to the piece that I wanted.
It seems that I am always learning (and re-learning) things while I work. This time it was the lesson that the easiest solution is not always the best. The best solution in this case required drawing and cutting and time which wasn't easy for me. I am glad though that I just sucked things up and did those flowers. The piece makes me laugh a bit and makes me happy and really, that is all I want these days.
In other news, I am not sure if I ever mentioned that at one point I had some items on Redbubble. People could select from some images and purchase cards or prints. I am thinking about doing this again and have actually added some new images. I know I need to improve my photography though and am starting to work on that. Stay tuned though for some progress reports!
OK, hope everyone reading has had a creative week. Feel free to email me with comments. Thanks for having a read!