In the service of Justice (Part One)

As an artist I'm pretty sure that we all have those times where everything is just going along swimmingly. You feel good. Secure in your ability and talent. Sometimes in fact things can go so well (or so I hear) that a general euphoria takes over and the art almost feels like it's creating itself. Then...well, then there are the pieces that are a genuine struggle. From beginning to end: a battle. A battle you are losing. The kind of struggle that makes you question why you ever considered yourself an artist in the first place. The piece that makes you start looking in the want ads for alternative employment.

Justice...I started it over a year over, and it started out rather well. I love making backgrounds, they almost always feel easy for me, a great way to start the flow going...and as far as backgrounds go, I was pretty content with how things were going. I typically find myself bouncing back and forth a lot when I'm working on a new piece...back and forth between working with intention and creating intuitively. Particularly when I'm working on a tarot card, or another themed piece of art when I feel resolute about the symbols or objects that must be included to tell the story. It's exactly that - the "I must use this..." that will ultimately cause me the most trouble. I know this. I know this intuitively, I know this from experience, and yet....here I am with my list of "musts". It's a long list of musts for Justice. 

As I progress to the next couple of layers, things start to look crummy, but that's ok. I know all about the crummy phase....every single piece has one...it will pass, or so I tell myself. Several layers later...crummy has evolved alright...evolved to #$@% piece of #$$%@. Not good. Danger mode. Time to stop. If I keep going at this point, I really will trash the piece, taking it to that place of no return. So I stop. I stop for nine months. I do many other pieces, ones that I like. Unfinished Justice still hangs on a wall in my studio, taunting me every time I walk by....time to tackle her again I tell myself. 

I consider what I've done so far and try to figure out, what (if anything) is working...and what isn't...I need more paint, don't I?....more layers? No improvement. More collage. Still no....and frustration is rapidly replacing good judgment but I continue determined to make this work. I try some wings (heaven help me)...what was I thinking? a halo....good grief! I dig deep, spend hours looking for and finding 18 perfect quotes about truth and... and 18 quotes about justice, carefully I tear each one out...I collage them into the halo....in my mind, this will be cool, this will become an aura of truth and justice and wisdom. It's horrible....right about this time is where I am pretty damn sure I am no longer an artist.

You're going to laugh when you hear what I did next...you know what I did? I did a tarot reading for myself..first card that I turn over...wanna guess? Justice. No Joke. I mean really....I don't bother with the rest of the reading. I go back into the studio with my head on straight at last, amused that the "fates" have a sense of humour. 

I collect my thoughts, and remember the two mantras that keep me company in the studio:

1) Everything that I have done to this point still informs the piece, whether I end up covering it up or not....that truth and justice halo is going to get buried, but it's still there....and that is a good thing.

2) Nothing is sacred. I must be willing to abandon anything and everything on the panel. If I'm too attached to one thing, one idea, one area this piece will never turn the corner.

I start at the beginning again, the background needs to be reclaimed...while I'm working on this, my husband is in New Orleans, and I remember the beautiful wall at the Napolean House. Layers of peeling paint, old wallpapers and patina. I want my own version of that...the background is transformed, textured, collaged, painted, and scraped and little by little it's feeling better....and little by little I am feeling better too.

Wanna see what happened....watch this:

By the end of the journey, I have created my favourite piece - EVER. My faith in myself, and in my artistic process is renewed. Equilibrium restored, and Justice is indeed done. 

Second Skin and a Bracelet

Challenges are always fun especially when you get play with completely new items. For this challenge my friend and fellow Canadian Carmi sent Michael and I a terrific goody bag with: a brass cuff, leather cutting scissors and this cool fish leather called Second Skin.



Working with the Second Skin really was just like working with any other leather....I grabbed the teal coloured one and began experimenting. With a little piece I had left over the first thing I decided to try was heating up the Second Skin...you know what happened?...The fish scale texture became exaggerated and raised and predictably the colour darkened a bit. I love the raised texture so I decided to do the same thing to the leather I had already glued onto the cuff. Next I added a little collage/assemblage winged heart that I had been working on but it still needed something more....something dangly. I pierced a small hole through the leather and the cuff where I attached some beads and figured and that point it was about as bedazzled as I wanted it, but not quite done....I added some paint glazes to a few sections of the second skin and voila...here's what I ended up with...


...now I'm going to need some more since my daughter (the hand model) decided that this bracelet was going to be hers....! Check out John Bead's blog for more info on how to order.

2013...

Well friends I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and the beginning of 2013 is treating you well. I can already tell this is going to be a busy, busy year! Lot's of projects in the works, not the least of which is the upcoming book for Art Abandonment and pretty full teaching schedule.

Here's a bit of what I have planned so far...more specifics to be added once I details firmed up.

March 9-10  at the Upstart Crow in Delta, BC


Mixed Media Mythologies


Mixed Media Mythologies
Collaging the Translucent

April 4-7 Art-is-You, Nashville, TN

Illuminated Manuscripts


Beauty in the Beast a duo class I'll be teaching with my wonderful hubby Michael deMeng
Illuminated Manuscripts

April 23-27 Artology Retreat, Port Townsend, WA

Michael and I team up again for four fabulous workshop days of the Fantastical Fantocini - collaged puppet theatre sets and found object puppets

May 9-10 Random Arts, Saluda, NC
Collaging the Translucent

Collaging the Translucent
Metamorphosis


May 16-18   Small Studios, Avonlake, OH
Illuminated Manuscripts

Illuminated Manuscripts (2-day class)
Marquis de Scroll

June 16-23   Salty Sea-Dogs & Sumptuous Sirens, New York, NY
Seadusa - Sideshow Banner

Hang out in amazing New York City with Michael and I. Four days of workshop will have us working on collaged and painted Sideshow Banners and aquatic inspired found object Masks that we'll use to participate in the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island! ...don't worry we've added plenty of cool site seeing  on the schedule as well!

July 18th & 20th  Collage, Portland, OR
Collaging the Translucent

Collaging the Translucent
Veils of Psyche

August 3-5   Art Unraveled, Scottsdale, AR
Exquisite Enigmas

Exquisite Enigmas
Marquis de Scroll


September 19-23   Art-is-You, Petaluma, CA
Marquis de Scroll

Illuminated Manuscripts (2 day)
Marquis de Scroll
Exquisit Enigmas
Mixed-Media Mythologies


October 10-14   Art-is-You, Stamford, CT

Mixed Media Mythologies

Marquis de Scroll
Exquisit Enigmas
Mixed-Media Mythologies

November 16-17   Upstart Crow, Delta, BC
Single Minded Binding

Single-Minded Binding (2 day)

...still a couple of more to come. Hope to see you somewhere....!