As an artist it is my job to create visual representations. Whether this means using paint, clay, collage, or photography, is realistic or abstract, I am presenting an image to my viewer. As an artist it is my goal to bring light to my subject matter and in turn enlighten my viewer with my ideas and intent. What I love about art is the ability to turn the wheels in people’s brains, to watch their expression as they take in a piece, and hear what interpretation they have tacked onto my image. I do not believe a successful work of art requires immediate understanding. I also don’t believe a work of art can be created without intent. Even a Jackson Pollock splatter painting or a Mark Rothko color field has intent. They chose those colors, inspiration was evoked, ideas sprung to mind, movements were made, emotion was laid down, and with every choice they made intent was spilled onto their canvas. Intent can be an emotion, it can be nonrepresentational, it can even become the unknown.
I believe every work of art has a purpose, however intent is often what I struggle with. People ask questions, submit their interpretations, and wait for your explanation. An explanation is always required, I suppose it’s our basic human curiosity that demands the question why. I am guilty of it myself, I am always asking why, and yet I often cringe at the question. I have a difficult time defining my work. With every piece I start with a concept, an idea, and I explore it through my material. I put emotion into my work, I put meaning, and purpose. But when it comes time to explain I stutter, stumble, and BS my way through it.
Perhaps I find it difficult because I am not a deep, dark, brooding artist, struggling with depression, and my own creative genius. Part of me yearns for that torment, for just a taste. Perhaps my art would be easier to define if it had these attributes, if it came from inspiration I could easily pin point. However, I must remind myself if all artists pulled inspiration from the deep, gloomy, corners of their souls, all artwork would look similar, and a trip to the art museum would turn into a very depressing affair.
I have pondered this question of purpose over the years. Writing about my journals has given me a space to explore this, to re-think the reason why I created in the first place. What I have discovered is that every part of me plays a role in my work. My curiosity, need to experiment, happy nature, impatience, and spots of melancholy all contribute to a finished work of art.
As an eternal optimist I have discovered I always strive to present something beautiful in my artwork. In my ladies in gowns body of work I took women, put them in ornate dresses, and set them in ugly or unusual situations. Broken glass, awkward body positions, and dark backgrounds surround these prime and proper ladies (lady painting:Alcoholic Haze). I put a spin on a rather grim situation, trapped in a cage, by including typically beautiful objects such as flowers and birds in my pieces Trapped and Caged. Discarded items such as forks, spoons, and door handles are re-purposed in my series of experimental mixed media. Although each piece is different, they all carry a common theme, I am in a constant battle to try to find the beautiful in the ugly.
Perhaps this visual journal page visually reflects my artist statement. This photograph of an abandoned garage. Graffiti covered the sides, it looked like a terrifying building to enter, a structure created with purpose, only to be deserted and left to rot. This was a building I often passed, but it wasn’t until a trek through the snow for a day of sledding that I truly recognized it’s beauty. The city was covered with a blanket of white. The pristine snow covered the details of every street, building, and house, except this one. This abandoned, barred up building came to life against the white. The yellow, green, and red popped and suddenly it felt inviting. The bright red door shone through the black grates, beckoning me in yet blocking my entrance. It was a moment I had to capture in a picture and transform into a work of art between the pages of my journal. This was a moment of intentional clarity, I had discovered the beauty in the unexpected.
- Visual journal
- Rubber cement
- Mod podge
- Book pages
- Packaging tape
- Colored Pencil
To create this visual journal page I did a lot of layering. I layered a mod podge transfer of the photograph I took and tape transfers from a newspaper. I started with the mod podge transfer, and decided to transfer it onto extra pages I removed from my book, and glue it back into my book. Once I had my book page to transfer onto I printed my image on a laser printer and began painting Mod Podge on top. To create a Mod Podge transfer you must paint two layers of Mod Podge on the image, allowing it to try in between. After the second layer dries you paint a third layer, and place it face down the paper, and again allow it to dry. Once dry, you wet the back of the image and peel the paper off. The ink sticks to the layered mod podge, which sticks to the page. The end result is a semi transparent mirror image of the original photograph. To read more specifics about a Mod Podge transfer go here.
I typically do my Mod Podge transfers on a separate sheet of paper, then glue it into my book. I do this because sometime I have to re-do a transfer if something happens in the process, and you have to add water to the back, and I did’t want to end up with a wrinkly, warped page in my book. Once my transfer was complete I carefully ripped along the edge of the image, placed it in my book, and traced around the edge to create a guide for the background. I wanted to wait to glue down my transfer because I knew I was going to add a tape transfer to the background, it’s always better to work from the back forward, it will make it easier to layer.
For the background I did a very easy tape transfer using packaging tape and newspaper. All you do is cut off a piece of tape, lightly place it on top of newspaper, and rip it off. The ink from the newspaper easily transfers to the tape, and you end up with words stuck to a clear background. I did this with newspaper and slightly yellowed book pages to get a mix of gray and brown in my background. After I had my transfer complete all I did was stick it to the page. Because I drew an outline of where my Mod Podge transfer would be glued, I knew how far down to tape my transfers.
Once my background was complete I glued my Mod Podge transfer on top. Last but not least I wrote “Discover beauty in the unexpected” on a separate sheet of paper using sharpie. I then colored on top with a brown colored pencil to help it blend in with the brownish background. I ripped out the words and glued it down to finish the page.
Try out the new tape transfer technique! Grab packaging tape, a stack of newspapers, book pages, or both and get to work. Incorporate it into your next page!
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