During my holiday break, I have been deeply engaged in creative play.
One inspiration was a friend of mine, who, as we were discussing ideas for creating work for a spring exhibition, she told me that my idea sounded “safe.”
My initial reaction was to immediately reject her words, but I also realized that she was right. I tend to fall back on a particular subject matter because I’m comfortable with it and can predict the successful results of creating that subject matter. (Although sometimes it is hard to know whether it is comfort or a calling that leads me there.)
So, to get me out of the comfort zone, I’m playing with ideas that are not necessarily connected to what I traditionally do. I’ve chosen to play with materials and techniques (pictured is a watercolor piece on card stock) that are unfamiliar to me.
So far it has been exciting and my mind is racing with possibility.
Because I live in New England and it may never stop snowing, here is something pretty to look at to lift your spirits. It certainly lifted mine. A friend gave me this plant as a bulb for a Christmas gift. This weekend, during a four-day snow storm, it decided to bloom. Perfect timing for offering some winter cheer. Inspiration: bloom, no matter what.
I love taking bits and pieces of things–paper, wood, anything–and putting them together in different ways. My late grandmother was an expert at this, whether it was putting together a meal, a quilt or a decorative wall covered in magazine pages.
My collage work stems from my earliest memories of that on some unconscious level. And, these recently created fashion brooches–created from bits and pieces of wood and sometimes mixed with other items–do, too. I’m honored to have some of them selected for sale in the Attleboro Museum of Art’s gift shop.
What a glorious weekend! The weather was perfect, and the days were filled with family and friends.
I went on a wonderful bike ride with my husband and 10-year-old son, along a lovely bike path that had plenty of inspiration to offer in gentle breezes, nature’s music and beautiful scenery.
We took a friend out to dinner for her birthday at Bravo–our favorite spot in Providence. She really appreciated it, which warmed our hearts.
And I went to see “Sex and the City.” I love, loved the outrageous wardrobe and the brilliant colors of the dessert scenes. This 11 x 15 mixed media work on paper was inspired by the movie and all those glorious costumes. The background began as my attempt at intuitive painting for Creative Every Day. I call it “Bejeweled.”
I awoke to rain today. The sound of it–the music of it–made me think of my grandmother, who died many years ago. She lived in the country in Sumter County, Ala., and had a tin roof on her house. Oh, I can smell the red clay of that area right now.
It is so funny how a sound can trigger memories that instantly jet you back over decades.
I spent summers with my grandmother. We called her Big Mama. (Just about every southern family has a “Big Mama.”) I couldn’t have realize it at the time, but I think that’s where my artistic interests began.
I’ve always wondered where my artsy side comes from. No one is an artist in my family, I always say. But thinking back to my grandmother, I know that is not true. She was an artist in the truest sense of the word. She was a natural artist who created something out of not much of anything all the time.
Because she didn’t have much money and no one in the country went into town to fancy stores for wallpaper, she made her own. She took the pages of magazines and made glue (flour and water) to plaster the walls—floor to ceiling. Every room was covered in faces, words and random parts of overlapping images. There was always something new to find each time you walked into a room because you likely missed this spot or that spot the last time you had been there.
She made her own clothes. God, right now I would kill for one of those “simple” dresses that she made by hand (no sewing machine). A few years ago, I saw the exact style in Macy’s and was so tempted to buy it, until I saw the price (yikes). Big Mama would have rocked “Project Runway.”
From the scraps of material left over from sewing her dresses and “britches” for others, she would sit on her front porch and make quilts. Luckily, I have one of her quilts in my closet. It is one of my most precious possessions.
She made her own peanut brittle. She took berries from the fields and made blackberries and dumplings. She raised her own chickens. She was constantly in motion–doing something, making something. It was all so effortless and natural for her. She inhaled life, took what it gave her and made what she could of it.
I think that’s why I’m drawn to collage. Those little pieces of paper–ripped apart and reassembled into patchwork creations aimed at offering some new perspective–give me such pleasure. Perhaps it is my own form of quilting, sewing and picking sweet berries from my field of imagination.
I just hope I can be half as creative as Big Mama.
I learned a valuable lesson yesterday: I don’t always have to try to go around a problem. Sometimes I need to go through it.
I have been letting something that has been bothering me brew in my mind and heart. I’ve embraced it, turned it over and over, awakened each day and cursed it away, only to find it still on my mind. It’s too petty to even go into here (Boy, oh, boy do I sweat the small stuff.)
As I drove home from work yesterday, I tried to push away the negative thoughts by considering what I might create for the Creative Every Day Challenge once I arrived home. But the negatives kept intruding. I purposely began to focus on all the wonderful things in my life, instead of this small-stuff pettiness. It was this mental tug of war all the way home.
Once I got into my studio I began to work on a large blank piece of paper and play with dark, brooding purples. Slowly I was moved to play with gold and silver liquid acrylic paint, dropping dots sporadically over the entire sheet. And, wouldn’t you know it, the lady that I so often paint emerged in silver—like an angel lifting my spirit.
There is something so comforting and peaceful about this figure. It must be the angel like quality she has. I’ve also realized just recently that I may be unconsciously painting the Virgin Mary, which was so prominent in my Catholic upbringing in Alabama, where just about every lawn had her perched above a holly bush on the front lawn. At least, that’s where she is on my Mama’s lawn right now.
By the time I finished this acrylic work on paper, I felt really good. I stopped resisting the negative thoughts and decided instead to just go with the flow, feel them, let them be what they needed to be for me at that moment.
It has taken me years to realize it, but I know that when something troubling happens in my life, there is a reason for it, a lesson I need to learn, there is something important that I need to see. This is when I need to be the most present.
And the great thing is that there is always something wonderful on the other side of it. Silver linings. My artwork reminded me.
Inspiration is a strange thing. You never know from where it will come. Sometimes as I’m drawing I consciously try to listen to my thoughts to see what is leading me to draw the images that I draw, but I haven’t figured it out. This drawing, for example, was inspired by a report on the evening news. A strange spiral appeared in the sky over a Norwegian missile base. It turned out to be a failed missile test (not a UFO). I just caught a glimpse of the spiral on the news as I was working on a jewelry project. For some reason that inspired me to create this mixed media painting while waiting for my son at basketball practice. Circles and spirals appear in my work. So I guess it is not too off base that I would be inspired by the news report. However, I have no idea what this painting is about. My ladies in long gowns appear, as usual. Tell me what you see. Enlighten me about my work. Tell me where your inspirations come from.