February 2022 Newsletter
Thou Mayest (Choices)
16" x 20" found paper collage on board
Into The Depths and Up In Smoke
collage on board 8" x 11'
8" x 10"
I guess that I love a good cliché as maybe the titles and content of my pieces reveal. Or maybe I am drawn to age old stories or a kind of nostalgia surrounding outdated stereotypes. Whatever the case may be, I would argue that ideas themselves never go away even if the times change and new ways of thinking and acting come into vogue. There is a constancy to things, to history, and to people. We do study ancient cultures and past historical events just as much as we focus on modern day people and happenings. I think, for better or for worse, we can't get away from ourselves and our history.
I just finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Prior to, I had only read The Grapes of Wrath. Honestly, I thought his books were for boys or something when I was in high school and then as a younger adult I was turned off by Steinbeck's material and maybe even that he was a macho seeming kind of guy. It's a good thing that I found this book at the thrift shop a few months ago (just $2 can you believe that?) because this is a gem of a story. It's not really even the story so much, though it is good (it's a retelling of the Genesis fable) but the characters. I got about a chapter into the book when I realized that Steinbeck's absolute skill was in the character building. Wow! I became entranced with the whole thing and couldn't put the darn book down. The story is an epic and the characters memorable. I was particularly drawn to the Samuel Hamilton character; his interactions with the different characters, his thinking, his language, all of it. There is one scene in which he and two other characters are discussing man's ability, his option, to choose between good and evil. This is one of the main themes of the book and it hinges on, among other things, this discussion between the three men. It's a riveting scene.
I read the book as I was working on the above pieces (not at the same time, not simultaneously of course!) and was very influenced. I found myself searching for images and words and phrases that reflected my own ideas relating to the book: good and evil, original sin, men and women and the roles that they have been assigned throughout history, and history itself, specifically the very early 20th century and then the Dust Bowl years. I never thought I would be the type of artist who works with text and images. Maybe it's a new opportunity.
And speaking of new opportunities, I wanted to mention that I now have some items available for purchase in my Red Bubble shop. The shop is listed under my name, Elizabeth Fife, and the link can be found here. I tried to list items that could be worn (and then recycled) or that were paper based (and could be recycled/reused). There are also magnets, phone and tablet cases, and buttons available. I get that people have a lot of stuff, that they are sick of stuff. I am too. But, it doesn't hurt to have something fun in your life either. I ordered a shirt for myself as well as a "test" print mounted on matboard. There are only a few designs available for now. I selected the digital images for this idea since they provide the best clarity for reproduction I think. we will see where this goes. If you take a look let me know.
February is almost over and I hope to get on to some new work. The digital collage idea is very exciting for me though it is a little more time spent on the computer. I am using a very rudimentary program from Google called Picasa. It's doing the job for now. I almost like working within it's constraints. I see it as a challenge and an affirmation that art making doesn't need to be expensive or complex.
In any case, thanks for reading and looking. Please feel free to send me an email if you would like to comment or catch up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 2022 Newsletter
16" x 20" painted paper collage
painted and found papers on matboard
Hopefully January is finding people happy and productive. 2021 was just so damn hard that I sincerely hope 2022 is off to a better start for folks.
I wanted to share the above finished piece and sketches. I will start with the sketches first which are the smaller pieces shown directly above. I can't say enough good things about working in a sketchbook. When you can't go big as they say, there is no need to go home (as also suggested). Just go directly to your sketchbook! This advice really applies to anyone and any venture that they might be engaged in, creative or otherwise. Often times life is about going through the motions. Something very small is more manageable at times than something very big. If you can get going on just one small thing, then that small thing might snowball into something else. The point is to just keep going; keep feeling vital. Like others, I sometimes don't feel up to a huge project. A small sketch might just take a portion of my morning as opposed to a week or two like the finished collages that I make. The sketches are very gratifying in that they keep me moving forward. If I don't like them it doesn't matter much. I can easily do another one. It isn't really that I take an idea that I like either and make it larger with the larger pieces. I just think that working consistently on something keeps the tracks in your brain clear so that when that big train does show up, well, the path is open, to let that train through. (Maybe metaphors aren't my strong suit but what the Hell!)
The finished collage (first pic shown above) was quite a nice surprise for me. I really want to share some of the elements that made it come together. First, I re discovered a free graphics site and explored and downloaded some of the images (that's where the picture of the woman came from). I also inadvertently figured out how to reverse an image while using Microsoft Word. Fruit crate labels have become a new favorite thing for me and I have been using portions of the images and the letters. My friend, Carol, also gave me some fun playing cards with cartoon images and so I have been using those as well. And lastly, my husband has been kind enough to let me cut up some of his magazines. There are all sorts of great graphics in the magazines that have been really fun to try and use.
Using letters and words in my work is something I never imagined doing. I am just not the kind of artist who presents a message, written or otherwise, though I know many artists do. I am not really good either with memes and sayings and feel good messages like you might find on FB or IG. They just don't speak to me. But, I love text and images and all sorts of graphics. And I love puzzles. So, with that said, when you cut up text and rearrange it or when you isolate colors and images from a magazine page, that's just a horse of a different color! I absolutely love that you can take something out of context and do something else with it entirely. That really appeals to me. So, the challenge for me is to make something visually pleasing that isn't too busy or fussy. I want to apply what I like with my other collages to these new pieces that use words and letters and images. I haven't a clue what I am doing most of the time but using my own design ideas helps guide me. It's been very fun so far.
Lastly, I have some photos to show. I went on vacation to Monterey late last year. I have also been on lots of walks at my local lake. Additionally, I have become smitten with all things fungi related (I am taking an online webinar). So, I have some images of mushrooms from my own yard and from my walks. Don't ask me what the fungi are, I have no idea!
I changed my website format a bit. The menu bars are now on the left upper side. I know my site looks dated but that will have to do for now. I imagine eventually the Weebly/Square Space will no longer suit me and I will hem and haw and be aggravated and then do something different. We will see. In the meantime, if you are reading and would like to pass this newsletter along to a friend, please do so. It would be nice. Also, if you want to drop me a comment or communicate, please send me an email directly: email@example.com. Please don't leave a comment here as I don't get notified even though I have opted to do so. I am sure it's a Conspiracy of some sort.
Thank you for reading!
December 2021: New Work
A Town Called Garbanzo
16" x 20"
painted and found papers collage
The thing about making artwork for me is that every now and then, I have a convergence of unlikely ideas. Those seemingly disparate ideas then come together in what I can only describe as a Frankenstein like fusion of collage: different parts from different places to form some sort of cohesive body.
This is what I mean. A month or so ago I had a bizarre kind of dream. It was so strange in fact that when I woke up I got out of bed and wrote it all down. In my dream I was lost and asking for directions. I was told by a group of people that I was in a town called Garbanzo. Right... sure, no problem. There was more that happened in the dream but it was this town name that started a kernel of thinking.
Fast forward to about a week later. I was driving to an appointment in Sacramento. Prior to leaving, I had looked up and written down the instructions for how to get to where I was going. (I loaded them into my phone too for real time navigation.) No lie, the driving directions said to take highway 99 to the Elvas freeway. (This is what is known locally as bus. loop 80 or the Cap. City Freeway.) Well, that just made me laugh and of course it became the Elvis freeway, in my mind. When I reached my destination, right away I pulled out pen and paper and wrote the following, "Take The Elvis Freeway To a Town Called Garbanzo." And that's the show, folks!
I have thought a lot over the years that creativity is simply a matter of x + y= z. Two unrelated things when added together somehow make a third unrelated, new thing. I feel this way on some level each time I start a collage. I have no idea how the materials in front of me will fit together, if at all. And it isn't often that I have a title all selected in the beginning as with the above piece. It's much more likely that I am looking in my pile of stuff and stitching things together. Those things all sort of go together, bound with one another through color or shape or line but it isn't obvious until I get going. I know I will have a collage in the end but what it is going to look like? I have no idea.
This is probably it for me for December. Not a fast worker I guess! Please drop me an email if you have a comment.
Thanks for reading,
New Work: September 2021
16" x 20" painted and found papers collage
The above piece was finished this last week and I am kind of excited. Well, as excited as I can possibly get I suppose. I decided to start using some different materials in addition to the painted papers that I normally use. In the past I have shied away from this idea, not knowing how to mix different papers that have different looks. But sometimes you want to do something and you just have to give it a try.
Spray paints have always interested me because they deliver consistent color. If you run out of one color you simply buy another can. Since I was a traditional landscape painter to begin with I have always mixed my own color as I painted. I never had premixed colors. That's great and all but makes it difficult to touch things up or to make many papers of the same color. Lots of advance planning which can really muddle me up. With the spray paints I have also started making my own stencils. You can buy stencils but I like the quirkiness of something home made. Plus, buying stencils can get expensive I suppose. I am also re looking at my Gelli plate as a possible tool to use during the winter when it is too cold to use the spray paint. And lastly, I am bringing in some purchased/found papers to see how those can be blended.
It's all a big conundrum for me. I don't want my work to look like a scrapbook (not that there is anything wrong with scrapbooking or stamping, I have done that too). Honestly I would like for the pieces to look polished and put together. It's a high mark I know. I have a friend online who is a professional artist and I am betting that he would tell me that it isn't the materials that matter but how you use them and put them together. It's your own sensibilities in other words that can make something the way it is, be that sophisticated or quirky or downright sloppy!
For the above piece I used the following materials: hand painted paper, pages from an old Cub Scouts manual, pre printed paper, a bit of a granola bar box, a Trader Joe's bag, an ACE Hardware bag, and my own spray painted papers. It's very interesting to me to have a pile of what looks like a bunch of crap and then to sift through that and make something that maybe isn't crap. You know? Gratifying.
Anyway. That's it. I hope to make some more pieces soon!
New Work: September 2021
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.
New Work: August 2021
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!
New Work: July 2021
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!
New Work: June 2021
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.
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: