My mom and I did some art play today, just to get our creative juices going. Inspired by typical activity for children, we did a crayon resist. We got an 18″ X 24″ piece of rough surface news print. Then, we colored like hell for 1-1/2 hours, then painted over the crayon designs with watercolor paint.
I like falling back on the things we used to do as children, because for artists, sometimes our real inspiration comes when we can play like children. It was a time when the adult noise of judgement and responsibility are not blaring the horns in our head.
By choosing a simple project, with simple materials, and keeping the subject uncomplicated, like you would with a child; you will take the pressure off yourself to perform. As adults, it’s frequently about how we are performing, and that makes us behave a little less authentically. I think to tap our creativity it is okay to indulge our inner child, and just play. When we just play like a child, we allow for the Devine Spirit to play with us. You have probably heard before, about how artists don’t want to claim all the credit for their work: that the Devine also stepped in.
When you are a child, you are more likely to go with the flow. A child plays in the moment. Not thinking about whether or not they took out the trash. Not worrying about whether they have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. They experience the joy of exploring the materials, marveling at the marks they make, and just dealing with the challenges these things place before them, in present time.
The marvelous thing about being an adult, doing “child’s play”, is that you are an adult. Your attention span lasts longer. You have more endurance for a bigger project. You have a lifetime of beautiful experiences, which come to you in the form of images. If you have done previous art work or design work, your lessons and knowledge from that can be utilized. If your experience has been more about looking at art, you may be surprised at what you know now about what you like to see. Leave the criticizing out of it! Use only the language of the elements of art with yourself as you develop your project. Use words like: contrast, tonality, color, texture, form, shape; describe the process by which you are creating. All these adult things can come into play. And though the process is child’s play, you can now elevate it to adult’s play and be creative in an adult way. You can take what is a simple process, actualize an outcome that is more complex and interesting.
These crayon resist drawings were not intended to be a completed project, ready to frame and hang on the wall. The intention was to do no more than play. And yet, I marvel at how beautiful they are. How my mom’s marks, and choice of colors, are beautifully, uniquely, interestingly consistent with the marks that my mom has made in her art over and over. I loved what she created, just as it is. I see my mom in all of it. But her plans are to enhance some areas with paint, or photos, or collage. She found her inspiration in it.
Mine? Well I never intended to use if for anything other than to experiment with what crayon resist. My plan is to cut or tear it up and use pieces of it in my other collages. I think it just makes an interesting piece of paper. Or, perhaps, some magic will happen when I look at it in a week, and perhaps I will find some inspiration for another day’s play.
This month I created the collages: “Fleurs de Vie” and “Peacock and Cream”. I used layers and layers and layers of paper. I had lots of fun being more tactile with my art and rewarding my senses with color. The process taught me to look more carefully.
The first version of the Peacock was on a red background. My intention there was to add pop to the greenish peacock, by using the complimentary color. I had some fabulous bits of red paper with graphics, images, symbols which I used. I felt very clever how the background looked, but the overall picture lacked depth, and was very much the same intensity throughout. I wasn’t quite sure what to do to fix it. After critiquing it with a couple of friends, we decided it needed a dark or black background. So, the instructor from my past whispered in my memory, “Sometimes you have to let go of the preciousness of what you’ve already done, and move on.” So I did.
I painted the background a dark color to quickly see how it would look, without the time invested in collaging it. I didn’t like it.
I moved on again. I experimented with different colors and tones of papers, just laying them over the corners of the collage to get the idea. It didn’t work very well, for color selection; but I quickly learned the safest thing to do was to choose papers without the wild visual patterns that the peacock was covered in. (Though the red patterned background somehow worked.)
Eventually choosing the creams, whites, and pale yellows, I created a happy, light, very satisfying, composition.
Still, there is a bit of me, that likes the version in red. I wish I could go back. In hindsight, it holds some beautiful features that really worked. It really expressed what I wanted to do. It just needed a little tweaking. It may have been better if I didn’t rush it so much, trying to solve the problem with a big hammer, when a little tap tap would have done just fine. Ah, but the hindsight seems to look better because of the lessons learned when I moved forward.
The takeaway from this: I can learn to trust my initial intuition, and try to hold off a little longer with the big hammer. Or, that hindsight only looks good, because we learn things by letting go. It’s all win-win.
February 6, 2016
My creative endeavors have been all over the map the last month. I feel sort of stuck: Like producing a product is important, and I don’t have much to show for my efforts. I’ve been working on trying to design a block print from a picture of a Cooper’s hawk. I can’t seem to work out some of the details of keeping it only in black and white, without loosing the image….it keeps coming out too abstract. Then I decided I had some interesting sketches of potential mobiles, and sculptures, so I decided to make small mock-ups. I’m not very clever with my hands and the materials I wanted to use. The structures didn’t hold up to the glue, skewers, and glass, I was using. I only made one simple collage all month, working from existing images; but I am trying to get away from using other people’s images, so obviously, in my art work; though, that is where I derive inspiration.
I’ve created a lot of barriers to what I’m doing. Or, I’m accepting some of my failures reluctantly. So, the other day, I decided I just need to experiment. I had a large sheet of paper I just started collaging paper to, loosely holding an image in my mind that is my inspiration for an end composition idea. It’s from a picture my husband took. I decided to let go of the time factor. I’ve got plenty of time. I’m not sure the picture will even evolve out of this experimental piece. I am simply playing with different kinds of papers, matte medium, and paints, and different effects.
Happily, I played for hours this way, yesterday. Some parts of it are keepers. I’m not sure yet whether I would be able to duplicate those parts again. Serendipity plays such a big role in collaging. That’s why it is so engaging. But I figure I have plenty to learn, and to get used to, with the different kinds of papers; it will help me be so much smarter about how things will behave.
Today I am meeting a friend at one of those places you can paint a chosen piece of pottery. I’ve been wanting to do some sgraffito, which I also experimented with in my painting/collage.
Let me say this at the beginning:
October 30, 2015
You know how we believe that we are suppose to live our life with intention? Well, I’m not sure that exists. Or, I don’t really understand what that is. I create my art with intention, but some how it gets away from me. I try to make my point, but there is some Devine intervention that takes over, and instead, makes its message be known to me. Sometimes my brain can’t find the words to express itself, so it finds images. It brings those symbols into consciousness. I want to share these symbols with people. Yet, this Devine intervention puts them together, not how I plan, but how it is. It never lies to me. It tells me only the truth. I have learned so much about myself and life through the making of my art. I have also learned about the ambiguity of symbols, they are subject to interpretation. How freeing that is! So, it is only truth as I see it, or as you see it.
So have fun with it.
If you know my email, I would love to hear your comments.
June 13, 2015