Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I’m Cutting Up My Art Journals!

I know this sounds radical and this statement may have caused you to suck in a little gasp—but really; it is not a bad thing. The continual quest to have fresh collage materials has forced this violent scissor attack on my art journals. This material pursuit in addition the yearning for my painting roots of yore has been growing stronger—and that is what started the whole dismemberment.

Lusting after many art mediums and working in my art journals brings me much joy. Some of the final journal pages go on to live as greeting cards that I send to my small, yet wonderful subculture of card sender’s network (more on this later). Other pages just live quietly inside one of my journals—those are the ones in which I write about my innermost private thoughts and dreams; or maybe messily sort out something with quick jots. They will exist there for me until my family finds them after my departure to the great art studio in the sky—unless of course, they go with me (my journals that is, not my family – ha-ha). The pages that I choose worthy enough, p
roudly and fearlessly undergo surgery to live as collage material on a mixed media painting, not unlike an organ donor—except the donor stays intact! My process starts with what I wish to illustrate, then I pick the color palette du jour.

I have my journal pages scanned into my PC so I can “leaf” through the files and print four copies of each lucky, qualified page for my chosen palette. Working on four substrates at once as a series helps me to work quickly without overthinking. If a piece does not work on one canvas, it will work on another.

I prepare the canvas with thick Gesso to add texture (did I mention that I love Gesso?). After that dries, I use acrylics to abstract a background. Using my surgical instruments (known as scissors to the commoners, or non-artsy folk), I start dissecting the pages for the collage layer.

I use polymer medium for gluing, being careful to envelope the entire paper in polymer medium to retain the non-acidic, archival nature of the acrylic. Shown here is a work in progress—stay-tuned for the finale!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Comfortable Chair

Almost every morning for a few weeks now, one of my favorite sounds blissfully awakens me—the tweeting and chirping of the neighborhood birdies that start singing before dawn. The cozy sound that makes me smile before my eyes open. Then glancing at the clock and rolling over to doze for a few minutes longer, my mind is active enough to force me up to start another busy artful day—my chosen path for the remainder of my time here (that will never be long enough).

Last week when visiting with my 94-year-old mother in the nursing home, she asked me what my ambition was. I thought it was a rather odd question at the time, one that you ask a teenager, not a mature woman contemplating retirement. However, since Mom cannot always distinguish the “now” from the “then” anymore, I simply answered her question. I was succinct and I did not hesitate, “to create art every day,” I told her. I looked at her as she sat in her wheelchair and asked her the same question. She replied, also without hesitation, “To sit in a comfortable chair”. That simple. Both of our answers were essentially identical. We both have the same ambition—we both want to feel comfortable. And it’s not always that easy, or that simple.

Macular Degeneration took Mom’s eyesight, and she suffered a broken hip from a fall last year that still causes her pain. She needs help getting dressed and out of bed into a wheelchair. It’s a daily struggle for her. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum.

I have both physical and mental health, along with healthy goals (maybe too many). Yet, I too, struggle with the ambition of my artful day. Life gets in the way—even though it’s what I want the most. Distractions and obstacles are many—in the form of full-time employment, household chores, stress, the list is endless. “Not enough hours in a day” is my mantra. Yet, somehow, I manage to make every day an “artful” one, even if it’s a quick sketch in my art journal. J.L. Spalding’s said, “We always make time to do the things we love”. How true that is. If we don’t make time for art, we’re only cheating ourselves. Making art isn’t an option, it’s a necessity—my ambition. It’s my comfortable chair.