Monday, January 14, 2008
Are We There Yet?
It's cold, gray and blah outside. What could be better to encourage indoor activities like reading and working on art?
Actually my reading these days is going slowly. I'm enjoying rereading Angle of Repose for my local book group, though I swore I wouldn't revisit this 600 page meditation on time, relationships and family history. Still when I first read it in 1997, I hadn't become as interested in my own family history with its branches of the family tree extending to the American West. I hadn't traveled to California, so the image of this place in my mind was fuzzy at best. I believe the universe sends us what we need sometimes, and right now Stegner's novel suits my interests well.
Speaking of family, I still am letting my watercolor of my great grandmother sit in the closet for a while, until I can let her out and look at her with fresh eyes. Instead, for the past couple days I've been trying something I've never done before, collage. At Christmas I cajoled my nephews into posing on the couch for a picture. They reluctantly agreed, despite the fact they would rather have been watching football or gaming downstairs. Still, they're basically good guys, willing enough to indulge their aunt.
I wanted to do something large, something bright, something that had simple shapes but intricate pattern. So, I snapped their photo, then printed it 8x10", graphed it out, and transferred it to gessoed watercolor paper. This may have been a mistake, since the heavy paper buckled. Next time I'll try illustration board. But I'm forging ahead using old maps and a discarded atlas for my material. I like the challenge of finding colors, and seeing how the patterns develop like patchwork. Actually, the process reminds me of sewing, with all the patterns drawn on tracing paper, then cut out of sections of maps. It's easier than sewing for me, though. Some places, like on their warm-up pants and the couch, I've added a thin wash of acrylic, just to let the eye rest a bit. The pattern of roads and rivers underneath still shows through, creating an interesting pattern. I like the idea that the portrait is specifically my nephews, but that the boys are general enough that they could be anyone. I'm still not sure if they'll have features later or not. I like the idea of maps and boys, because driving is so important to them, the notion of going somewhere. I imagine them in a car thinking, "Are we there yet?"
My efforts to develop my work this winter continues. I keep plugging away at different projects that have been hatching in my head, hoping to get some interesting results. Some, like Grandma's watercolor, are bumps in the road, and some are probably just side trips, but all are taking me where I want to go. I hope.