After the Fact

Little Susy-Paper Doll
“Little Susy”

When the first spark of creativity hits it isn’t always about the meaning of the piece.  It isn’t always about the reason you are drawn to a specific image or scrap of cloth.  That remains the secret part that will speak to you but only if you seek it out and look for it…after the fact.

At least it is for me.  My approach is serendipitously random that seems to hit in cycles.  Like a seed being planted, ideas germinate, sometimes for years, then life energy enters and it grows.  I start pulling items that speak to me, unconsciously matching color and hues then moving to form and shape.  Accepting and rejecting from my “stashes of possibility” as vintage mixes with contemporary.  Finally, adding bits of the amusing because it can’t be helped.

The pieces surprisingly slide together like a jigsaw puzzle giving the same satisfaction of when a piece of a puzzle fits.  When the last piece is in place you think you are done.

There is a treasured time following that is often overlooked unless you are asked to explain the piece.  By looking under the surface you find another dimension of the creative process…a veiled message with meaning behind it.

Libby Custer Paper Doll
“Libbie Custer”

“Libbie” Custer introduced herself to me and her mission in life.  After the defeat at Battle of Little Bighorn, Libbie took it upon herself to publicly defend her husband General George Custer’s legacy since she was not willing for her husband to become a national scapegoat.  In her own right, as an accomplished author and speaker, it took on new meaning for her at the end of the war.  By my making a paper doll of Libbie, she once again found her voice as she encouraged me to defend and support my family’s honor and legacy.

Little Susy-Close Up
“Little Susy”

There’s more to “Little Susy” than just a pretty face.  It seems that joining the head of Raphael’s portrait of a young woman and a fashion models’ relaxed pose brought out a new version of Gretel from the opera “Hansel & Gretel” written in 1893 by Engelbert Humperdinck.  Imagine my surprise when I realized this Engelbert was not the pop singer of the 60s!

Little Flapper-Paper Doll
“Little Flapper”

When it was all said and done, I realized that the “Little Flapper” was the very likeness of my mother as a young woman.  Speaking more to me than I can say.

If I had started out with the intention of creating a version of Libbie Custer, Little Susy and a Little Flapper I would have been bogged down with my tendency to overthink.  However, by providing myself the opportunity to create, all of that was bypassed and took second place for me to discover…“After the Fact”.

Previously printed in Somerset Studio Gallery

Finding My Way Through Found Art

 

I always dreamed about being a “real” artist.  From the time I was a little girl I could see shapes and designs.  It went beyond seeing shapes in the clouds to seeing the faces that emerged in the tiles on our bathroom floor.  Although this sounds rather “spooky” that ability is still there when I look down at a remnant of rusty metal or a squashed bottle cap.  I am filled with awe because I couldn’t create that on purpose and it could have been unseen forever!  I must confess that I am a recycling trash collector.

Two of my favorite places for collecting, is in the gutters on streets and car washes.  Literally one man’s trash is definitely my treasure.  I go to great lengths to get my trash such as paying grandsons to go to the car washes to collect trash, to bribing, finally to ask for rusty trash for birthdays or Christmas presents.  Those closest to me bring me little offerings that fall into their paths – I hoard them like pirate treasure.

I have stashes of rusty metals just waiting to be put to use.  These stashes have perplexed my husband as to why I would want boxes of trash.  I assured him that there is something there even if I don’t know what it is yet.  He turns his head with a shake as I show him my hand sanitizer and assure him that my tetanus shots are up-to-date.

When “Mixed Media” became a classification of art – I had found my niche.  With the freedom of not having to explain myself nor my collections anymore, I was able to experiment.  Incorporating the techniques I’ve mastered over the years and my love of sewing, painting, designing, and re-purposing I could create unusual finished pieces.  The serendipity in the process of finding just the right piece to fit becomes a personal spiritual experience.  Now, while I don’t explain or apologize for my collections, I do have to explain Mixed Media Art.  It’s a world without limitations!

They say life is a journey.  I have explored the fascinating path of an artist.  It is not just putting paint to canvas; it is putting your heart on it – whatever way that is.  By following the path of a “creative” we can let loose the artists within.  Mixed Media & Found Art has given this self-taught artist the permission to call herself a recycling artist instead of a trash collector…

 

IMAG0068-1  This was originally publish in Somerset Studio magazine

Hidden Meaning

Hidden Meaning 1

                This piece was designed with the help of my son, Josh.  I “saw” it in my head and was ready to torch a canvas to make it happen when he took over the torching. I think it was when he heard the word “torch”.

A masonite board was cut to fit behind the canvas to hold the heavier pieces.  I covered this with newsprint and painted it with titan white then scrounged it up for the backdrop.  A stenciled image was glued down with matte gel medium then followed by bits & pieces of found art to fit the shape of the image.  So many pieces just happened to fit perfectly.  The canvas went through many morphs to end up with something I was okay with.  I covered glue and spaces in this piece with melted bees wax.  By covering the gaps with the wax it made the embellishments cohesive with the image.

P.S.: If you can’t see the image squint at it from a distance.  She speaks for herself…

“Do What You Can, Where You Are, With What You Have”

Dot
“Dot” a.k.a.: Former Expensive Blouse

Some people say I’m crafty – some say I’m scrappy.  All I know is that I like to repurpose things in crafty, scrappy ways.  I’m a “rejuvenator”.  Putting new life into worn out things sends a message.  Usually my creations literally do send messages others are more subtle.

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have” became my motto and my mantra as a young wife and mother.  I would repeat it often in the years to come and it has never let me down.  Ideas will start to flow with this simple problem solving technique.

“Do what you can”…right now, in this moment…”Where you are”…you often have just what you need…”With what you have”…look around you.  Be still; listen, for the ideas will flow when the need arises – if you let it.  It can become a life style and a challenge to create decorations for our houses, toys & costumes for our children & clothes with what we have on hand.  Just look at it differently.

I can’t say all my creations were good ideas but they say that “mistakes are the portals of discovery”.  I found that it is best not to re-use underwear elastic because everyone knows where it came from.  I learned to check out a fabric scrap completely before you cut it up for a doll and it was an expensive blouse of my daughters that I was going to mend.  But working with the mistakes I made often led to new ideas.  My motto is a good one and now I challenge others to do the same.  We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to put our skills to work with the worn out and forgotten arts and creations of the past.

When I look at the linens and needlework that manage to drift down to me, I am touched that a person spent their time and talents to make something so precious.  Displaying them as art then sharing them can create bonds with others that lead to interesting conversations and friendships.  It’s a marriage of the Past and the Present in an artful way.

By looking at things in different ways we can create unusual, one of a kind pieces to make our homes cozy and warm.  When we do this, a funny thing happens.  Our hearts and our lives become cozy and warm too.  “Doing what you can…where you are…with what you have will always increase your creativity in making your home more inviting to others.