Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Evolution of an Idea ...

Sometimes in the creative process your brain finds something interesting ~ an image, a process, a juxtaposition ~ and then one day you realize its been showing up in your work in different ways over a period of time without any apparent conscious decision on your part. I thought I might present a series of works I've done over the last year to illustrate this point ...

The first (known) occurrence of what I've decided to call "little tree" syndrome happened at a retreat I attended last October called Faith and the Arts, hosted by Jill Cardwell, organizer of the Creativitea meetup group. Some of you may be surprised to find me at a retreat called Faith and the Arts. So was I. One of the things I've said about my strict religious upbringing is that it acted more as an immunization against religion rather than an indoctrination. But setting that aside, I think the creative experience is also a spiritual one and when presented with an opportunity to "be present" with whatever drives my creativity, and to share that time with other people considering the same question, I attended with an open mind and an open heart.

At the retreat we were given a blank journal, and over the course of the 3 days I filled it with collages, writing and drawings. One day we began our creative exploration with a simple, elegant prayer, which I later collaged into the journal spread below. Something about the earthiness of the magazine imagery I found and the way I tore the top edge created a kind of hillside and made me think of the main part of the page as "subterranean", so I decided to reinforce that by drawing little trees along the hill's top edge ...

A few months later I went away to my regular art journalling retreat (I know, I know ~ how lucky am I to have all these retreats to go to?) and I was playing around in one of my ongoing projects La Musee d'une Vie Inventee (The Museum of an Invented Life), and I found myself again creating a page with that same subterranean dark hillside feel. And again, a tree just seemed like the thing that was needed. This time I added some roots, perhaps to show that the character exiting on the right was not only leaving the landscape behind, but also her roots ...


A few months later, I was working on my submission for The Sketchbook Project. I'd decided to illustrate a  short story I'd written in my journal a few years ago, and (since I can't draw) I thought it might be fun to do it using torn paper collage. At one point I realized I wanted tall trees, and realizing the limitation of fine detail with torn collage, I decided to draw them. The little trees in my previous work came to the rescue, although I'm not sure my attempt was completely successful, at least they *do* look like trees ...

A few months ago my art journalling group had an Art Journal Zine Exchange ~ something we do from time to time to share our work with each other, and I wanted to include some of the pages from the Faith and the Arts retreat, but the page size was a completely different shape and size. I photocopied the original pages to a smaller size and then shortened them as well. The prayer seemed out of context with the rest of the zine, so I replaced it with inspiring quotes, something my art journal group also shares with each other on a regular basis ...






Okay .. we're almost up to the present ... a few weeks ago I bought a LARGE jar of black gesso. Like a lifetime supply. I started painting some more background pages in La Musee d'une Vie Inventee, and had a bit left over (you know how it is) ... I grabbed some blank ATCs so that nothing would go to waste. And the first swipe across my card was (you guessed it) ... that hillside shape again. So I painted a bunch of them. Like 30. I had to get more black gesso, but when a good idea strikes I feel it would be just rude to ignore it. After the ATCs dried,  I started drawing (you guessed it) ... little trees. Which were shortly joined by fences (as in the page above with the person leaving the landscape). As I was drawing I was thinking about human-scaled objects that might be seen in silhouette on hilltops, and I thought of parks, park benches and bicycles, so I threw a couple of those in as well. And when I'd drawn all the little pictures, I remembered the quotes I'd added to the zine pages, and started looking through some random text pages that I keep on my desktop for cleaning my brayer when I'm using the gelli plate, and little stories started to appear ...

 


I'm calling them "momentaries", as in commentaries on little moments, maybe? Well, anyway ... yesterday while working on the last of the momentaries to prepare for my ATC group trading session this upcoming Sunday, one story surfaced that seemed to be particularly meaningful and made me stop and think of all sorts of other moments. I'm not sure what it might mean for anyone else, but it felt like it wanted to be shared and it felt like the right thing to follow that instinct ...



4 comments:

beenebag said...

Hi Penelope!
I LOVE the little black and white ATCs. Fabulous:) And the prayer spread is stunning. How are you doing? I miss Artfest so much. Trying to stay creative. I haven't been blogging either but your post is an inspiration, thank you for sharing;)Take care,
Brenda (beenebag)

George Wright said...

Great arc of explanation of how one grows one's creative expression. Very nice job on the post Pen. Nice to see Beenebag here too! Fun! We all miss Artfest.

Thanks for the little momentaries and love the prayer spread. Very very insightful, organic presentation.

We should never second guess ourselves.

Rose

Gwen said...

I just love everything about this post! And, it seems that you can, in fact, draw...

I love the accidental hillside on the ATC that turned into a series, you never cease to amaze me with your creativity, Pen!

I miss ArtFest, too!

tina said...

There is so much here to love. The sense of discovery, the adventure, the evolution…all of it. It's like watching a part of your artistic vocabulary evolve.