Three Vases Sans Flowers

 

A dear art teacher to whom I sent an image of this week’s collage, floated the idea that I might have found my artistic voice. “Who would have imagined, the writer is also a paper artist!” I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read her note.  I have always loved pretty papers be it wallpaper, gift wrap, art papers, even gorgeous party napkins.

My initial idea for the collage at the left was to create arrangements of white flowers in colorful vases. But these three papers called out to me and by the time I’d fashioned them into my vases, I realized there’d be no room for flowers and greenery.  The greenery moved up from a supporting role to leading role.  I made it up as I went along, painting the stems and a few leaves and then painting watercolor paper in various greens and then snipping them into leaves and a few odd seed pods and closed blossoms. I am pleased with the outcome. I could pick the collage apart and tell you what doesn’t please me.  Instead, I look at those “misses” as lessons for the next time.

Perhaps my teacher is right, the writer is drawn once again to creating with paper. Collage adheres my sensory loves: beautiful papers, painting, scissors and glue. I don’t know what’s next, and that’s part of the fun, too.

 

 

 

 

Going to Pieces

The intention in January was to draw, paint or sketch each day.  Once a week is more realistic and gives me the space to come up with an idea, mentally map out the possibilities and then get down to business. Last week’s project was a collage inspired by a small oil painting my husband and I purchased in Moab  (Utah) some years ago during a plein air festival. I love the colors, that entrancing edge where the sky and rock meet, the narrowing of the Colorado River as it meets the distant hills.  Soon enough, I gave myself permission to improvise. Torn paper bits behave differently from oil paint applied by brush and palette knife. Novice skills cannot match those honed over years of instruction and practice.

Before I began, I wrote myself a note: “This is a learning collage.       A potchkeying painting.” Potchkey is this wonderful Yiddish word that calls to mind a child playing in the sand. Or the mud. To potchkey is to make a mess and have fun in the moment while doing it. So I am learning how to tear paper with a clean (not white) edge, unless I want that edge as part of the overall design. I soaked some of the blue foreground paper in water. With the resulting tint   I toned down the bright orange tissue. I learned that closer objects appear darker; lighten them as they edge toward the horizon line.

At first I thought it was a mistake to have left the sky for last —— wouldn’t I mess the whole thing up edging paint against the mountain peaks? I learned something there too. Not everything can, or should, be planned. Serendipity can lend crucial improvements. The blue in my mind’s eye looked awful when I held a sample close. Adding a bit of black to the blue lent some much needed weight.  The flat brushstrokes contrasted crisply with the land formations; where my hand wavered, so what?

Yes, this was a learning collage and a great potchkeying experience, too. I really enjoyed all the cutting, tearing, and gluing. I loved the tactile messiness of it. The best thing I learned? I loved what I was doing. And that’s all that really matters.

Alas, the artist’s name is illegible.

Call It Play

Why is it so hard to do the thing our heart cries to us to do? Why do we, okay, why do I, stall? Why do I let go of the tow rope when I’m sailing along only to tumble beneath the surface into cold waters of self-doubt and recrimination? Fear? Sloth?

When I listen, when I give my heart what she wants — to make art — we’re both so happy. Maybe I shouldn’t call it “making art.” Maybe I should just call it playing with my watercolors and acrylics, my markers and paper trove. Make implies a finished product and finished product is weighted with judgment. Make implies an end while play remains firmly within a borderless present.  Yes. Yes. Yes.