Creature Feature 2
16" x 20" painted paper collage
Earlier in the year I started making funny little paper collage creatures. They were only for my sketchbook and used leftover shapes from my finished pieces. It was just a fun way to learn about color and to see what appeared when various shapes were thrown together. I just couldn't see how to use them in my work outright, as shapes unto themselves. So, I set the idea aside.
Later on in the year, I bought Carla Sonheim's book, Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals. The exercises were fun to do. In one of them she has you looking at sidewalks and asphalt to find "animals" in the cracks and crevices. I made up my own exercise using crumpled paper and rubber stamp ink. I found animals in the lines created when I rubbed the ink across the creased paper. Again though, I couldn't see how to use the little creatures that I drew.
All of the fiddling that I did with the shape creatures kind of lead to just some general doodling. I am an inveterate doodler from way back. (I used to doodle on my underwriting worksheets when I worked in a bank.) It's actually more noodling than pictures of anything specific. It does remind me of Keith Haring's work, though my scribbles are certainly a pale reflection of his ideas. I also accidentally found the work of Inez Johnston and rediscovered the work of Carla Accardi.
All of this is to say that I felt I had permission to turn my doodles and paper creatures into something. The outcome may not be as sophisticated or well done as the above artists but I felt it was important to at least try.
I like what came out, though it was a nerve wracking kind of process, not knowing what I was doing exactly. I started with my doodles and picked out a shape here and there. I drew the shape and refined it till I had what I wanted. I then transferred the shape to the painted paper and cut and glued. I used the same sets of questions that I always use regarding color relationship, value and chroma. I tried to pay attention to the repetition and variation among the colors and shapes and I employed the dots to bring in a kind of line movement. These are all things that I try to do with my regular collages. So, I feel my sensibilities are intact and it's only the shapes that are evolving. Things did get a little busy but that is OK. That happens to me sometimes and I don't exactly mind. The board is only 16" x 20" after all.
So now what? Do I try this again? I think so, yes. I enjoy the doodling and would like to continue with shapes that are more curvilinear rather than rectilinear (though a good mix of two is useful). I think I captured a kind of narrative though maybe not anything definite. I do love that the paper creatures are interacting though it isn't quite like one of my reference objects.
16" x 20" painted paper collage on matboard
This piece started with a random word generator web site that I found on the Internet. I used the site to randomly generate words based on syllable length and what letter they started with. I then used select words to create images and a sort of story.
I was really sort of stuck for how to begin and this idea of a word generator helped quite a bit. Selecting images to represent some of the words like midnight, medicine and media was fairly easy. But then I also mixed in some childhood memories of my grammar school. The building had black and white linoleum floors and prior to the demolition of the upper story, the hallways were a kind of mint green color. I was also sort of inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon. The illustrator used a kind of purple blue color to portray the night sky through the window. The Brownie camera and hands were images that I have been wanting to use. I guess the piece ended up being a kind of mash up of my thoughts which I think is just fine.
I tried a new to me media this time. It's called Duralar and it's a kind of acetate replacement material. It comes in both clear and matte forms. I am always looking for ways to draw freely with my acrylic pens without drawing directly onto the painted surface of the board or the shapes that are glued down. What if I screw up, which frankly, is very possible. The Duralar was meant to bypass that possibility. The clear version was very difficult to see to cut. Also, though the glue dries clear, you can still see it through the material. The matte was OK to cut but I still had the same problem with the glue showing. The whole thing sort of turned into a craft project (no insult intended to crafters, OK?). It's OK though. I am glad I tried it and who knows? Maybe it has other uses that I don't know about yet.
I am gathering ideas for my next piece. I also need to paint papers. I have accepted that some days are better than others; my connection to my art waxes and wanes. The only thing that matters I think is that I am thinking and gathering ideas, even if it is only through finding words or images. Put it this way. You can't draw money from your savings account if you don't make regular deposits.
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