Part of the reason I've been less inclined to write blog posts, I think, is that I'm already at the keyboard enough for my long-form project (a creative non-fiction piece, a memoir of sorts). Increasingly, I'm wanting to take other writing away from the laptop; I'm enjoying writing by hand, with my fountain pen, in my various journals, sometimes sketching an illustration.
The exploration or play or dabbling in the field of visual arts -- through watercolour or sketching or photography or -- as here -- through collage -- is so far outside what I have considered my wheelhouse of competencies as to raise vulnerabilities. But somehow I keep being drawn to expressing something about myself through these visual media. Showing, perhaps, without the burden of telling? Or without the ability yet? Perhaps I don't know yet, what I want to tell, but hope to see it myself through process or product of playing with images? Or maybe I just want to play. . .
The collage above, for example, was such a new process for me, arriving in response to that photo I showed you several weeks ago of a wall in Tivoli and the little sketch/abstract I'd made in homage to it. I had an idea at the time that I wasn't done with interpreting that photo, but I wasn't thinking I'd turn to scissors and glue.
They snuck up on me, though. I found myself cutting "bricks" out of corrugated cardboard, then looking for paper in brick-like colours. I'd saved some of the very attractive cards that UBC's Museum of Anthropology sends its members to advise of upcoming exhibitions, and the card announcing a showing of First Nations textiles from this area struck me as particularly relevant. Gorgeous woven patterns made of textiles of this place, dyed with indigenous materials -- the exhibition was titled The Fabric of Our Land, and I couldn't help but think of those bricks in that wall, the fibres in those weavings, as being connected in the way they came from their respective land and the way they were made by hand. Then the connection through language, that here in this land, we're using a word --"Fabric" -- that developed in that land. The colonial connections. The walls that protect but separate, the blankets that shelter and honour.
All of that, and I just kept snipping and gluing and humming and thinking and writing. My fountain-pen ink smudged, can you see? Sadly, it's not waterproof, but I think I like its vulnerability, which might express mine. And its emphasis on process. Because that was so much fun for me, so completely engaging and surprisingly energizing. The two or three hours I spent putting that collage together simply flowed.
Don't think I'm deluded that I've created a beautiful piece of art. I do think that if I pulled that page away from the coils of the sketchbook, I could probably frame it in a shadow-box sort of frame such that it would look "interesting." I won't be doing that. We have enough hanging on the walls here already, and I know exactly how amateur my collage is. My Mean Inner Critic is alive and well and loud and quite discerning.
But nonetheless, I'm very pleased with my little collage, and I'm curious to see where my scissors and glue and paints and pens pull me next. Because I don't think I'm done, yet, with that wall in Italy and its connection to my life back here.
Then last week in Portland, I found this glorious yellow wall (you can see more photos of it on Instagram.
And on Saturday, I took a day-long WaterColour workshop on "Demystifying Colour" and chatted a bit with the teacher about ways I might interpret/abstract this wall. Plus I've signed up for another watercolour class, one morning a week for six weeks, where I hope to learn a few more skills, have fun playing, and perhaps even meet a new friend or two.
Meanwhile, I hope that you, my blog friends, might enjoy my occasional forays into a field of play. Some of you might even plug in your electric kettles to make a cup of tea when reading; some of you don't own an electric kettle; at least one of you hadn't even known of electric kettles until last week's conversation here. All of you are ever so welcome, and I thank you for your presence and await your comments. Happy Monday! What might you be playing at this week? (And if you have no time for play, I hope you'll forgive my prattling about this privileged play I'm indulging in -- retirement is good!)