THE WAY I THINK OF IT

There is the journey and there is the territory. The territory is an interest in exploring spaciousness. For the most part I stay within abstraction. Lines and spaces, simple shapes.  

And then there is the journey. I do a piece, and then I think: “I’d like to do another one kind of like this one, or two or three, or ten or twenty.” “like this” may mean size, materials, technique or image. Each piece evolves out of the last and what determines the direction is an inner sense, an intuition toward some sort of harmonious unknown, the integration of impulses, territory as yet unexplored.

THE RAFFIA WORK

I am inspired by the Asian philosophies that emphasize emptying the mind and experiencing the energy that creates all things. I am inspired by the meditative nature of crafts such as basketry, textiles, Asian calligraphy. In my daily practice I use simple materials, basic shapes and modest size. I explore repetition and variation, the emotional effects of color, and enjoy allowing the imagery to evolve. I like to work with lines because of how they evoke the spaciousness around them. I allow for the interplay between spontaneity and restraint, imperfection and puzzlement.

At first I tried sewing with different types of thread until I settled on using raffia because it has an uneven look and I can rip it in half to make it thinner and even dye it with ink. After much experimentation, I found that handmade papers from China, Nepal and Bhutan have the right combination of flexibility and strength that allows for sewing and accepts color in a natural kind of way.

I often work on several at a time, pinning them up and looking at them for awhile. Eventually, I add color with ink or acrylic gouache. It is interesting to see how the different media soaks in, or doesn’t soak in, to the different papers. I cannot tell exactly what the color will be or which brush strokes will show until it dries. The inability to know what will happen requires adaptation as I go along. The obstacles, awkwardness, surprises, adaptations and mysteries reflect the passage of the period of time I work on each piece.

THE COLOR WORK

I like to create a simple composition, then keep tweaking the color to create spaciousness, luminosity, and presence. As I go too far in one direction, I am drawn back to a different approach--slowly filling out the circle from pattern to simplicity, rich color to monochrome, smooth to varied texture.

I cut the museum board into triangles, arrange them into squares and glue them onto a paper backing. This is a tactile process. I think of crafts, folk art. I attach the squares together and play with color and contrast, space and movement. The edges shift: now a square, now a diamond, now a triangle. Squares may flip over, change position or even move to another composition. Now near, now far, now folded, now open. Dark and light, opaque and transparent, constantly changing, yet held in balance. This is a playful process. Sometimes it comes together quickly, other times can take days of changing combinations.

And finally, the finishing. Back to craft again. Glue it all together, paint the edges. A finished object holding the process of change. 

 

MORE THOUGHTS ON ART AND LIFE 

Circumambulation of the Year

The Awakened Eye

An Excerpt from an Artist’s Journal