What You Can Do Right Now
painted paper collage on matboard
16" x 20"
August was a bit of a washout for me, art wise. My problems with being able to focus have been ongoing but that actually had nothing to do with a failed piece. And actually, the piece itself wasn't too bad. It was the materials that turned out to be the problem.
I would have to guess that nearly every creative has an affinity for the materials that they create with. They use the tools that they are most comfortable with and the ones that get results. I think this is particularly true if you are a tactile sort of person like I am. It makes a huge difference to me how the paint feels as I apply it to the paper, how thick the paper is and how smooth the glue is to apply to the paper. I literally feel all of those things and more as I am working. And while there are certainly a lot of variables to contend with, probably the most important thing for me is the substrate. I could write a book about this one thing!
Over the years I have tried many substrates (the material upon which all of my shapes are glued). I have used canvas and all manner of papers in addition to real and manufactured woods. I have worked with fabrics (on other projects) as well as acetate and various plastic surfaces. It took me quite a bit of trial and error to arrive at the matboard that I currently use. The matboard isn't too thick but it isn't too thin. It gets a coat of gesso on both sides followed by white acrylic paint. The paint ensures that my shapes, once glued, can slide around and be put into just the right position. And if I make a mistake and need to remove a shape once the glue dries, I can do that too. And as I work, there is generally minimal to no warping of the board. It stays taped and stapled down with no issue. Until lately.
In August, and actually for the last couple of months, my boards have started warping as I am working. The last piece (I am not showing it) warped so badly that I couldn't finish. That's what I mean by being sensitive to the substrate in a tactile way. I couldn't stand to touch it after awhile because of that warping. I wasn't sure what I was going to do.
For the piece above, I was able to finish it obviously. The solution to the warping is twofold. First, I am no longer taping and stapling the board to a piece of wood to work on it. (The wood provides a flat surface to push against which helps me to get the shape on the matboard nice and flat with no wrinkles.) Secondly, I am now clipping the matboard to the piece of wood instead. I am using binder or bulldog clips, shown here. I am also trying a third thing which is new to me. I will be sealing the matboard with a kind of varnish which will hopefully provide a bit of waterproofing. I We will see how that goes.
In any event, that is the saga of the materials. I wanted to comment too on the above piece. I used some pages from two very vintage Cub Scout handbooks that I have. In looking through the books I began to see the contents and the idea of the Boy Scouts with 2021 eyes. I very much approve of some of the ideals: be kind to your neighbors, do things for the betterment of your community, and respect one another. Be a good citizen. I also saw a bunch of horrific stereotypes and cultural appropriations with regard to Native Americans and their way of life. Talk about an organization fraught with contradictions and real problems (I am looking at you too, 4H!). I haven't a clue, admittedly, as to how these groups work today. I can only hope that things have improved. I am sure they have. I just thought that what I was looking at really spoke to the sheer contrariness and complexity of human thought and behavior. Anyway. I picked out what I thought was useful and used that. What can you do right now? How can you make things better at this very moment? Those are timeless questions that know no cultural or gender boundaries. No one is excluded or ineligible to participate. We all matter and can all contribute.
Thank you for reading and let me know if you have comments.
What If? #1
16" x 20" painted paper collage
What If? #2
16" x 20" painted paper collage
I'd like to start with the photographs. It's literally been years since I had such ease in obtaining mostly clear images of my artwork. For a long time I used a small Cannon pocket camera that I really liked. The results were good too. Then my husband, who was trying to help, bought me a larger and fancier camera. Suffice to say that it was just a little too much for me. From what I can understand, many of my photos were just "noisy" or they basically let in too much light for the camera, creating fuzzy images. I never really got a handle on all of the variables. I started taking images with my i phone with mixed results. I just never had the right location or time of day it seems for the photos to come out well. They were better though than the fancy camera. Finally, I determined that the light from the windows was an issue. I found a spot in my home where the blind is closed but the ambient light in the room is still good and not direct. The photos above took me all of ten minutes to take, process, and post. This is some kind of miracle for me. Let us pray.
Now, the artwork. I wrote last month about using larger "blocks" of colored shapes right at the very beginning and really, throughout most of the piece. It's very easy to start out with too small of a piece or pieces and before you know it, you are trying to cover the board with a bunch of little fiddley pieces. This results, in my opinion, in a very confusing and busy kind of collage. (I know this to be true because I have done it lots of times!) I liken this to selecting an outfit. More is not better and less can sometimes not be enough. If you have a stunningly simple cocktail dress for example, don't pile on the jewelry or confuse things with a loud scarf or muddy the waters with complicated shoes and stockings. Just let that dress shine! Art making is the same way. I learn this every time, by the way, and first learned the idea from my Elements of Style book. (Thank you Strunk and White!)
The upshot here is that I am pleased with these pieces. I like the idea of them. They are structures to me; puzzles I would say. I was a little stuck with the first piece though and was kind of flailing around with different solutions. nothing was working. (I call that process being in The Land of Bad Decisions.) I saw that polka dot paper out of the corner of my eye and thought, "Why not?" I have shied away from using preprinted paper in my work. It never seems to fit somehow. This time though I think it works.
I am pleased that I have two finished pieces this month. I had the second board all prepared so that when I finished the first piece, I could start right away on the second one. (This is sort of what I think chain smoking must be like.) Though I haven't really connected with any big "internal" ideas, I did some work this month and that feels good. So, on to next month I guess.
Alright, thanks for reading along, if you got this far. Let me know what you think!
Up, Down, All Around
16" x 20"
painted paper collage on matboard
The above piece was actually finished mid June. It's my only piece for this month. I stopped panicking awhile ago about my lack of productivity. I have accepted the fact that right now, this is the level of my artistic output.
I did have an idea in mind though when I started the collage. I really wanted to get back to larger areas of "color block" type shapes. So, less detail, larger shapes, and an emphasis on the colors rather than the content or "narrative". I had a piece like this in mind. It's fun to just grab shapes out of my paper stacks and see what goes with what. It's like doing a puzzle, asking yourself which piece fits where. And visually, you are scanning all of the scraps for what might work together. This constant asking of questions helps me stay connected to my ideas about art making, my techniques and thoughts on design. And even after not being incredibly in touch with those things for quite awhile now, it's nice to know that they are still there and available.
I did do a few things in June that I would like to share. I went hiking twice to Big Trees State Park in Arnold. (Photos upper right and lower left.) I took my kayak out on Lake Hogan (upper left pic) and then on Schaads Reservoir (lower right pic). The places mentioned are all within an hour's drive of my home. They are beautiful spots year round, each with their own charms. I feel incredibly fortunate.
On a more personal note, I have been trying out different prescription medications for my IBS. The one I am currently taking has been working for a little over a week now. It feels great to be able to leave my home without too much issue and to resume some normal activities. I can't begin to describe the unhappiness that descended upon me when I was struggling so much to deal with what was happening. I can't say (or trust) that things are fixed but it's a start at least in the right direction.
Lastly, I want to mention Instagram. I understand that the platform is moving towards a video-centric way of sharing stories and images. They are moving away from "static" pictures (my term). I gathered this was a permanent, forward thinking kind of business move. I think it is bullshit. I support each business's right to run their own show but I have had enough. (And if I am wrong about what they are doing go ahead and correct me. I only read so far.) I have followed along with the changes on FB and IG as well as possible. I am going no further this time. I feel strongly that I am tired of being led around. I am an individual. A real person. I am sick of being told what to do and how to do it and that if I don't follow along I am old and "not with it". Well, fuck that. I can't abandon FB because I depend on the groups I belong to for fire information in my community. IG is a different story. I am not sure what I am going to do about IG. I am just irritated at having my communication shaped by the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world.
With that said, I encourage you to email me if you would like to communicate. You can do that this way: firstname.lastname@example.org Additionally, you can subscribe to this newsletter. Email me for that too or sign up on the home page. Whatever you choose, I want to hear from you. I know how to use email and do blog posts and can probably learn some other shit too. And if you are on IG and FB I am not saying that isn't smart. Good for you. Manage your own life the way you see fit. It's just not making me happy right now.
Well. Thanks for reading. It's been a real pleasure!
16" x 20"
Painted paper collage on matboard
And on to June! Just like that, we have another month ahead of us. Not sure whether I want to rejoice or cry a bit. We will see.
For May's piece above, I read a book by Elizabeth Kolbert, noted science writer. I had previously read her book, The Sixth Extinction, and had really enjoyed it. I have also read some of her short articles dealing with different aspects of climate change. She is witty, in a dry kind of way, and concise in her explanations of scientific happenings. I really enjoy her reporting and find it easy enough to understand but extremely frightening at the same time. The book I read in May is called Field Notes From a Catastrophe. It is one of her earlier works and this edition contains some updated information to reflect current thinking about global warming.
I enjoyed the book but it is scary so I am going to say this and if I offend some people, so be it. This thing is happening. Right now. There is no doubt that our earth is heating and that the consequences will be disastrous. There is no sense in quibbling over details. Any scientist worth his test tubes and thermometers will say that mankind has had a hand in the changes we are experiencing. There may be healthy scientific debate about acceptable upper limits of CO2 in the atmosphere (perhaps we are already there?) but make no mistake. We are heating up our world rapidly and the outcome ain't gonna be good.
Now, enough of that. On to the new piece. I decided to return to a kind of collaging that is a little more "direct" in it's intent to communicate something specific. I really enjoy working this way since it makes me feel quite creative in my thinking. There is always a danger in this direction though since the more specific you get I find, the more likely people are apt to not get exactly what you want to say. That's cool though too. If someone finds something particular in the work, other than what I intended, that is just as valid and as important.
In any case, I included lots of my favorite elements. Funnelhead is back and this time he is stuck on top of a building, possibly underwater or being buffeted by wind. He is trying to hold back a kind of Pandora's "box" (actually a sphere) which he has opened, sadly enough, and now can't control. I included some trees and maybe an extinct animal (megafauna-see how the animal is large?) along with a couple of hands that are interfering, as usual. Notice the one hand with a kind of roulette wheel and another hand tipping a sort of teeter totter device. I have got some thermometers and perhaps some falling acid rain on some vague tree shapes. Some parts of the picture are right side up and some parts are upside down. That absolute imbalance and topsy-turviness of everything in the collage balanced against a kind of orderliness of the shape placement is how I feel about things. I don't have any hope that our civilization is going to last no matter how awesome we think we are.
One of the things that struck me this time, artistically speaking, is how at odds the subject matter is with the colors and shapes and simplicity of the materials that I use for the collages. I suppose at first glance that the colors are fun and cheerful which is visually great but they are kind of in opposition to the levity of the subject matter, global disaster. Honestly, I don't know what to make of that juxtaposition of materials and ideas. If I had to guess, I would say that it reflects who I am. I am a person who has serious thoughts but perhaps doesn't always want to be serious in conversation. When I talk to people or write about something, I always tend to want to "soften the blow" so to speak so as not to really wallop someone with bad news. I don't want to make people feel bad but I want to come as close to the truth as possible, especially if that truth is accepted fact. I think my art reflects this intent in a very simplistic way. If you are a creative type, I think it would be worth thinking about your chosen medium and how it interacts with anything that you might be thinking or trying to say. It's a worthwhile exploration, in my opinion.
Last thing. The title, Consensus, refers to the idea that scientists and people in position to know can't agree on certain aspects of climate change, notably whether or not man is responsible for the warming up of the environment that we are currently witnessing; the rapidity of that warming. There really is no debate about this and most scientists are in consensus about this issue. Man has had a tremendous hand in speeding up our rapidly heating world. This is the one idea from the book that stuck with me. It's like arguing about how fast the oncoming freight train is moving when you are tied to the tracks and can't escape. No one would argue that the train is going to hit you if you don't get out of the way, no matter how fast or slow it is going. You are going to get squashed. Arguing about the speed becomes a mute point. Death by train is inevitable.
OK, I hope everyone has a happy June! If you see or read something interesting here let me know. I'd like to hear from you.
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.
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:
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: email@example.com
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.
16" x 20" mixed media collage
16" x 20" mixed media collage
Like But Not Alike
16" x 20" mixed media collage
Well. The worst year that I can remember has finally come to an end. In theory anyway. The Pandemic continues on unfortunately. There is some hope up ahead though with our new president coming on board and I am looking forward to some normalcy and perhaps some positive changes for all of us. I hope.
December was a tough month for me. I did manage to make some work that I am very pleased with despite being distracted and disconnected from any kind of inspiration. These kinds of "dry" times pass however, and I am hopeful for better creative experiences in the coming year.
What's new in my studio:
One of the things that I did manage to do in December was to experiment with using my frottage work. Frottage is a kind of "rubbing" that is done with pencil or crayon using a piece of paper and a raised surface. If you can imagine laying some paper on something that has a raised pattern, such as a wicker table, and then rubbing back and forth with a crayon to create a pattern, then you will have gotten the idea of what frottage is. With previous collages, I have only been using a little bit of these papers here and there. I really wanted to start using more of them and then eventually do a whole collage using just these papers. The crayons that I have look great when used on a white surface but they also look good on a painted piece of paper too. There really are lots of possibilities.
The other thing that I managed to do was to start using spray paint in my work. Spray paint you say? Crazy, right? Well, not so nuts really. I love the results of the spray paint which can look very concentrated in color or kind of hazy. The crayons glide very nicely over the surface too. The spray paint has a real advantage for me in that I can get the same color over and over again. (I normally mix all of the colors I use which means I never get the same color twice so if I run out of a piece of painted paper I am sort of screwed.) I like too that I can buy it locally at the hardware store. Why not?
What Is The Work About?:
Despite being distracted and a little out of touch with my normal inspirational sources, I found myself gravitating towards some familiar ideas. I have read several books now all with some common themes: genetics, evolution, and heredity. I also continue to be interested in anatomy and physiology and big questions like, "Where did we come from and why are we here?" Many of the ideas that I run across would be hard for me to literally translate into a collage. So, to simplify things, I tend to think more in terms of lines, shapes, and colors. Genes and chromosomes end up being small squiggly lines. The human circulatory system translates into "tubes" and stalks. Genetics show up as repeated motifs in different sizes and colors to denote variation while repetition of shapes come to mean heredity. I even managed to sneak in an upside down "fish" which, while a little controversial, helps me to consider our heritage and alignment with fish as one of our ancestors. And many of the shapes that I use which just sort of "come about" tend to remind me of human internal organs. I think the art you make should reflect your own ideas, preferences, and concerns but still appeal to the viewer in whatever way that they interpret things. In other words, if you see something different from what I do, that's totally cool!
I think it's wonderful that other artists list their accomplishments for the previous year and their goals for the upcoming year. For me, I am just happy to still be interested and working. Engagement with myself, my work and enough forward momentum to keep at it is enough for now.
Happy New Year to everyone reading. May we all be blessed in the year to come.
From Top to Bottom:
In The Beginning
All Are One
All images 16" x 20"
painted paper collages,
frottage and washi tape
It's nearing the end of the calendar year and my blogging feels like it needs a change. In particular, my way of sharing my artwork has become a little dissatisfying. As much as I love and appreciate all of the comments I receive on FB and Instagram, I always feel like I am throwing my work "out there" kind of randomly. My efforts don't feel terribly targeted. Perhaps now is the time for a different approach. With that in mind, I am trying this month to be a little more direct in the way that I show my new work.
As scattered as this year has been, November was a good month for me, artwise. With the above pieces, I am trying a slightly different way of arranging my images on the paper. When I began making collages, all of my shapes were quite geometric, cut using a ruler and a knife. They were arranged as if on a grid. (Picture a piece of graph paper and then imagine adding a cut out square to that page, lining it up precisely with the lines of the grid.) The result here is that your precisely cut shapes need to be placed on that grid so that they don't appear crooked. As much as I loved that order and precision, it's fairly difficult. I longed to be able to just draw organic, non rectilinear shapes by hand and cut them freely with scissors and arrange them willy-nilly on my board, regardless of any underlying "grid."
This seemed kind of impossible at first. Drawing is not my strong suit as an artist. I was quite afraid that people would know this and laugh at the shapes that I drew. I gradually began to realize though that drawing, per se, wasn't the skill I needed. Confidence and effort were called for. I began though by doodling shapes in my sketchbook. I looked at the work of Keith Haring, the ultimate doodler (in my opinion). I disregarded all of the things that told me "no" and tried out some freely drawn organic pieces in my work. It's taken a while, but I now draw what I want confidently and without too much embarrassment! If it doesn't look exactly like the photo or image that I am observing I am OK with that.
I am happy to report that I really love the pieces shown above. The titles tell you a little of what I was thinking about when I made the work: how our world began, how life as we know it may have arisen, how we are all of a common ancestry, regardless of our skin color, and how the passage of time contributes to such variety of life that we see around us. I have read several books on genetics and evolution this past year and so those subjects are always on my mind. As always though, I know that the viewer will bring their own interpretation to the work and hopefully make their own associations.
If you have an opinion or an observation about these pieces, I hope you will drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you want to know something different from having read this post or just want to say "hello" that is OK too. Thank you for reading and following along.