Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Art Retreat

I’ve just completed a 10 day “Art and Soul Retreat”. It’s been a really great experience. My goals were:
  • Treat myself to art
  • Whole days dedicated to creating
  • No school work
  • Finish (or at least progress) my art quilts
  • Focus on collage and mixed-media
  • Fill up my visual journals/books
  • Use up art supplies
  • Learn a new technique (clay)
  • Explore the mystery bags
While I never got to my art quilts, didn’t pull out the clay, and didn’t work in my journals, I met and exceeded the other goals. I worked mainly on collage/mixed-media. I started with a series of collages using photos from our Paris trip two summers ago. I found the visual journal I’d started and put away uncompleted. So I pulled some of the painted pages from the book and used these as the supports for the series. (I'm showing these in collage format because it's easier than uploading each one individually.)

I then met up with my guide, Jane Davies. Not in the literal sense as she is in Rupert, Vermont and I am in Southern California. I used her books, Collage Journeys and Collage with Color as guides. On day 2, I pulled out the mystery bags and sorted papers from text and images; finding several projects in progress and supplies I’d bought and not even opened. The dining table is now full – oh what a joy!

Sorry that I used her exact example, palm trees, but it was an easy shape to work with for the series. Working on several pieces at a time is fun; removes the pressure that “it” has to be perfect. I like the connection between the pieces. So my first lesson is: have an idea developed (at least somewhat) as sort of a roadmap, and have supplies out and visible or at least easily accessible. This makes for an easy flow.

By day 4, I was feeling that the dedicated time to arting was exactly what I needed. No pressure to do anything more than play and explore. Create art and pay attention to feelings, likes and dislikes.

I made this series from painted and artist papers in my stash. Love the brightness, quite a contrast to the Paris series. I prefer working with bright colors. I prefer making art that is joyful. OK, so right now, I don’t feel like doing soul-art. I think I’ll just stay with art that makes my heart sing.

I made several “overall collages” – using file folders as the support and various papers to create backgrounds for collage projects.
Once these were completed, I pulled out the paints and created three painted pieces (on watercolor paper) for backgrounds for collage projects. Start with an overall color in most areas of the paper and then add, but leave white space to be filled in later. Then I get the look I want. Perhaps not as layered, but that also not dark and muddy as has been my experience in the past.

I used a discarded collage as the surface for this piece, one of the numerous “heart” themed pieces I made when I first started on this art journey. It is an appropriate base for work depicting Tuscany. The blue papers remind me of the sky and water and the marbled mountains. Crumpled paper painted gold metallic and “aged” with reddish color (a paper from one of the mystery bags), represent the old, crumbling yet elegant buildings. The doors were so elegant, including the gold door on the Bapistry in Florence. The rose/pinkish paper reminds me of the earthy colors of the houses, of course leaning as a not to the tower. I used magazine images of stone walls; the bank of yellow in the middle reminds me of the magnificent fields of sunflowers. Various shades of green remind me of the hillsides of vineyards and olive trees. Gold elements depict the gold everywhere on the buildings and art. A ribbon along the bottom was removed from the original collage, making the link between the heart collage and this piece. I tried to capture many of the elements of Tuscany that I loved and titled the piece “Love Tuscany.”

Convergence. This is a small piece (size) using the painted papers. I limited my colors (a real challenge for me) to red, blue and yellow, as this is my favorite combination, albeit quite primary. I do enjoy making these abstract pieces; mainly I enjoy the embellishment, creating the tactile effect.

Peaceful Spirit

I was going to make more individual collaged pieces; however was called to make a hanging wall collage, turning to another guide, Tracy Bautista and her book, Collage Unleashed. This is the second of these pieces that I’ve done. Each piece is a mini piece of art, but put together form a fun and funky wall hanging. Not yet sure how to display it (frame it? Hang it as a mobile? Attach it to wire/mesh as a backing?) … it was a LOT of fun to make.

And finally, I turned to greeting cards. I have a desire to create a series of cards that I could actually sell. I’m probably a long way from that, but the point is to create them and see what happens. These are fun pieces; not sure they are considered “art” or more “craft.” But it is something I could do on weekends.

I even did some doodling …

Creating vs. Creativity

This week has been a creating and creativity week. Creating = making art, even if it’s practice. Creativity = the process involved. This week has been highly creative. As I paint, I get into a place of pure joy. My heart sings when I add a color that pops on the paper. I love the process – selecting which color comes next. Yes, I still use “guides.” I don’t trust myself yet to not make a dark broody mess. Using Jane as a guide led me to not cover the page with each color, which I’ve done in the past. So this writing and thinking time about the process – that is creativity. The discovery of a technique – using the palette knife to spread the paint – that is the creative process. Even doing the exercise with the palm trees – it’s part of the process of (re)learning, (re)connecting, and (re)engaging with collage. The making of the art and the journaling is the creative process. This is helped by the dedication of time, allowing it to become a habit.

The creative process is supported by the habit of creating daily. So, how can leaders and managers develop the creative habit? What can they do to spark new ideas – daily? The point is to generate ideas, not worry about the quality at the point of generation. More on this at a later time …

Reconnecting with collage and painted backgrounds, working in series, working with my Italy photos to create a movie and complete my visual journal of the trip, having fun … I’m feeling quite pleased with the outcome of this time. It truly was an art and soul retreat. (And I still have a ton of papers and images and paints to play with!)

1 comment:

kartika said...

Thanks, Jan for sharing this experience and your art! I have been working in mixed media for a couple of years and it is very exciting. I will stop by again, Kartika