Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dreams, the soul & Jung collage

I'm a huge fan of Carl Jung and his writings so finally got around do creating a collage regarding his concepts of dreams, the subconscious and the soul.  I chose a Julia Margaret Cameron photo of Esther, circa late 1800's as the dreamer, imposed along with a photo of Carl Jung over his natal chart since I once was a professional astrologer and enjoy looking at charts of authors and scientists.  The fish in the collage represent the dream, since water, the undersea and even the black swan are all symbols of night according to the Italian philosopher, Ficinio.  Plus I'm a Pisces so fish are cool with me.  I used a number of techniques, including the taping off of lines the use of gesso and gel mediums, and composition I learned from both Claudine Helmuth's Collage Discovery Workshop and Bee Shay's Collage Lab, whose books are great on collage.
This is a small piece, 8X10 so I kept it simple. The main images besides the natal chart and vintage photos are all Graphic 45 papers form the Steampunk Debutant Collection.  I accented with stamped words which read, "The Soul Must Be awakened, using a stamp letter collection and also added the Nick Bantock saying"To Be Read Between the Lines."  Nick and Dave McKean were the firs artist to inspire me to work with collage.
And I was very excited to try a new technique I learned form a Tim Holtz video using his fragments to make the tiles.  I love this technique and it's so easy and my adult son thought they were the coolest part of the artwork.  So I'm planning on using them a lot more. -

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Isolation of Artists and Scientists

Rushdie's talk and the rambling conversations and laughs circling through the night until 4:00 am with Brian and Chris have stirred me up so much that I have to process it all first.  And right now for me the easiest way is through art.
So I started a new piece, "Isolation" due to the fact my self-imposed isolation was broken by this trip. Along with most artists and writers I deal with the necessity and the dangers of isolation constantly.  To produce, we need to isolate ourselves, have time to think, process, create and connect references, memories, concepts. Yet experiences are the only way to bring the endless stream of material, ideologies and emotionally-charged moments which an artist or writer needs to make those pivotal resonances in their art.
This piece is still a work in progress but it's one of those serendipitous pieces where things fall together because of my subconscious.  I started by using Golden's Gel Medium to lay down a photograph taken  from a time frame anywhere between 1950-1970.  It came in a wonderful packet form a dealer on Etsy who offers various historical paper ephemera.  It's a photo of an old man walking on a New York street perhaps - at least in my imagination, he is, yet he's totally in his own world, slightly out of place, like I imagine Tesla and Howard Hughes were at the close of their lives.  He was the perfect subject for "the scientist" in my piece on isolation.  Also in the packet were unused vintage liquor and drug store labels  I chose ones with the words "poison" and "spiriteaux" since I feel both words apply to the paradox of isolation.
But for a whole day, I couldn't find the image that would work for the art or artist.  I tried many - none of them worked.  And then I thought of the first piece of art which ever inspired me to study art history.  It was "The School of Athens" by Raphael.  All through school and even art lessons my mother sent me to for a brief time, I was told I had no artistic ability at all, while my sister had a good bit.  After that I was no longer exposed to art, in fact denied even cursory art classes through high school.  Yet, as a young mother in a bad marriage, I ran away one day and just picked up a book on Raphael and was stopped dead at the image of Raphael's famous fresco which featured all the philosophers of Athens.
I paid $60.00 for a book when we didn't have enough money for rent.
It was my first act of rebellion, urged on by the image of one of the two figures who looked directly at the viewer among many philosophers. It was the first piece of art which captivated me, and for 35 years, I've had a fascination with the figure in the white robe. Yet only today discovered who Raphael meant her to be.... Hypatia of Alexandria, the only female philosopher in the entire School of Athens. She represented learning and science to Raphael, thanks to her contributions to astronomy, mathematics and philosophy.
Wow, that discovery blew me away.  Because of her direct gaze, I spent years trying to figure out what she was trying to say. She was the first person to encourage me to stand up for myself . She was murdered for political reasons in 416 B.C. then painted in Raphael's vision in 1510 and 1511.  A major resonance here to Rushdie's admonition that writers and artists may be isolated, tortured and even killed because of their books and paintings, yet their work outlives the assassins. Yet ten years later I finally had the guts to get divorced and 25 years later started to paint.  It may have taken a long time, but her questioning gaze inspired me on a long and transformational journey. In many ways, she represented the spirit of women who would stand up for change.  Even Raphael, had to cater to his society by using the son of his patron as the model of Hypatia.
AS a student of Carl; Jung, I am pleasantly surprised at these developments.  The subconscious does work in mysterious ways, indeed, but always towards the holistic awareness, the "authenticity" of the individual. I was often called a late bloomer as a child - and this seems to emphasize that. While I'm not the most daring and outspoken person on this planet, I have tried to rattle some aspects of the status quo with my art, fiction and poetry. But now looking at things in this late, not enough.
It was only later today, that I noticed the label with the word, Spiriteaux, was from the brand of St. Jerome's. So I decided to look him up.  Wow- another synchronicity since he's the patron saint of librarians and translators and is the second most voluminous writer after  St. Augustine in ancient Latin Christianity.
I tried a number of new techniques in this piece. I added a Doric column to the androgynous clothing of Hypatia with the transfer technique using packing tape which I found in Claudine Helmuth's book, Collage Discovery Workshop. I used a number of acrylic and metallic paints, some gold leaf, and the Periodic Table of Elements to represent science.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Salman Rusdhie's Call to Writers

On April 12th, I had the rare opportunity to see Salman Rusdhie speak at Duke University this past week, thanks to free tickets form my friends Brian and Megan. As a writer, he admits he's not comfortable with public speaking, but as he got rolling, he was amazing, personable and down to earth, passionate and thoughtful, sarcastic and caustic at times, but mostly he called out to writers worldwide to take their stand, tell their story and claim a spot on the steps of history. He believes the role of the writer or artist is to shape our understanding of the world.
Like so many others who believe news is no longer the news, he states how the ever evolving novel must now be not just the story of a family of characters, but also the story of the world. Where will our archives be once newspapers are defunct? How will future generations find all the details of our histories?  Because of the radical changes in human society thanks to the Internet, few societies are not aware of what is happening globally minute to minute. As Salman reiterated, man is a creature enthralled with story. So in the future, novels will relate not only the intimate stories, but also how world events affect each individual's life. Multiculturalism and a shrinking global awareness will require it.
While less vitriolic and more reserved as a speaker than writer, Salman did not hold back on his opinions or requests.  When he recounted stories from his past, running the gamut from the years of the threats, exiles and deaths surrounding the Satanic Verses, to the tales of India's history, we saw a wide-angled view of the world, yet it was shared in a way so personal with the audience, we felt involved as part of the human race and not as voyeurs.  Perhaps this is the future path of the novel, hopefully to remain both in print and on the likes of Kindles and E-books.  He believes the cross-section of tales from every perspective, are how we must share our stories for future generations. We must remain steadfast to protect the voices of the individuals and the necessity of free speech.  Even as Salman stated, despite the risk of authors being isolated, persecuted, or even murdered; despite the rapidly changing media, the writer must write, the novel must be shared, the stories must be told. 
Brian, Chris and I left inspired and invigorated, also a little guilty and certainly humbled. Rushdie's speech was targeted to writers and he left no wiggle room for those who even thought about writing. He repeatedly called upon their single voices to offer an overall perspective to crush tyranny. It certainly made each of us more aware of  the importance of the novel and it's multiple effects: from entertainment and storytelling. Rushdie views the recounting of world events in an intimate manner as tales of flawed but constantly struggling humanity, the global politics hared alongside loves, passions and our fascination with life. The ultimate cross-section of these tales, told in one perspective from one corner of this complex rapidly changing world become a mosaic which illuminates and relates the truest history of our times.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lunar Moth Summons

In between lots of gardening - cleaning and preparing my flower beds, I managed to start the second concept for the cover of my next book of poetry, Lunar Moth Lessons.
I've had the idea of an arch in mind thanks to all the inspiration from the Gothic Arches Challenges - so much talent and diversity in styles and techniques.  And so many of the entries have that lovely mix of gothic, grunge, Victorian all tied up together - plus  lots of romantic historical figures featured in the layouts.
This time I created a mixed media collage using both paint and beeswax encaustic. Lunar Moth Summons features a copyright free figure from the late 1800's paintings, Spes or Hope by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. I own a hand-tinted photogravure of this figure who was modeled by Mary or Maria Casssavetti Zambaco. I think she's lovely and was excited to work with this image Burne-Jones created.  Two originals of the figure painted in different versions and colors exist as far as I know, a watercolor in the Dunedin Gallery in New Zeland and an oil in the Boston Museum of Art in Boston, Mass.
For my mixed media collage, I enclosed her within a copper Gothic arch as she's reaching out towards the lunar moth as if calling him to teach her about the night.  I painted the background in metallic and acrylic paints and added collage elements, a map of France, a Graphic 45 botanical tag, K & Co. flowers and dragonfly, an astrological sun/moon, a not so vintage stamp of a mountain landscape and a medieval alchemist holding an alembic.  I'm still considering whether to add 3D elements like I did with the first concept, such as flowers, Tim Holtz metal items or crystals. I'm still deciding.  Once again, I returned to my favorite colors - cobalt blue, copper and an almost translucent green which I accentuated using Perfect Pearls. .
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