During my Year of Yes, I decided to submit more of my collage work for contest consideration. Today I put together my Power To The Polls submission for the open call for art being run by Amplifier. What do you think?
The Modern Woman
I’ve been working on my first multi-panel collage. I wanted the subject to be fitting for a larger piece.
I give you Dreadnoughtus. Discovered by Dr. Kenneth Lacovara and his team in Argentina, it is one of the largest animals to ever roam the planet. It is part of a large group of plant-eating dinosaurs known as titanosaurs.
I recently learned that dinosaurs skeletons are never found in totality and many times are reconstructed from a small handful of bones. The skeleton of Dreadnoughtus was exceptionally complete with over 70 percent of its bones represented. In life, it was 85 feet long and weighed approximately 65 tons.
Dreadnoughtus is entirely composed of the faces of other animals closely related to dinosaurs—birds (which are in actuality dinosaurs) and modern-day reptiles. The skeleton in silver paint illustrates the bones that were part of the discovery in Argentina per this schematic:
The salmon-colored sky represents the asteroid (comet) which likely caused the end of the 165-million year reign of the dinosaurs. There is still some mystery surrounding the exact cause though it is widely believed that the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico suggests that an asteroid or comet approximately 10km wide hit the Earth, and created a series of events that led to their extinction.
Below Dreadnoughtus, I used bits of paper from a photo of the gnarled landscape of Wistman’s Wood. Packed with moss-draped boulders, ferns, grass, and lichen-covered dwarf oaks, and dense fog, it’s located in Dartmoor National Park in the U.K. It’s a landscape that inspires myth and mystery, the kind of wonder that dinosaurs inspire in so many of us.
The other items in the collage represent everything that was born into the world because of the exit of the dinosaurs. The truth is that if the dinosaurs hadn’t died out, if the asteroid or comet hadn’t hit the Earth exactly when and where it did, we likely wouldn’t be here, nor would many of the other species that exist today. Nature is opportunistic and chancy, one species loss is another’s gain. Everyone and everything we know and love came about on the backs of the dinosaurs. Our history is intricately intertwined with theirs. We owe them a great deal, as Ken explains in his book, Why Dinosaurs Matter.
When I want to do something big, I spend about 30 seconds thinking about what that goal looks and feels like. Almost immediately, I move into what I call breakdown mode. I start to break apart that big, beautiful dream into bite-sized pieces. The big dream, for me, is too daunting and it’s not actionable. I make it happen, I’ve got to unpack it, dissect it, and put it into a to-do list with deadlines. And then I pick a place and begin. For my writing, it’s one word at a time. For my collage work, it’s one tiny piece of paper. For getting a new job, it’s making sure my resume is up-to-date in all its various forms and channels. You get the idea. It’s a puzzle and the best I can do is focus on one piece at a time.
When my head hits the pillow at night or when I sit down for my 18 minutes of daily meditation, I give myself a little chance to think about that shiny goal out there in the distance. I fall asleep thinking about those dreams and I wake up thinking about them. Everything in between, all my waking hours, are devoted to action. It’s the only way I know how to make things happen.
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
Inspired by a recent post on the Two Drops of Ink blog, this idea of the play between painting and poetry speaks loudly to me. I paint with paper through collage work. Whenever I’m stuck in my writing world, or just looking for a new medium to use a different part of my brain for a while, I turn to collage work. I’ve never been much of a visual artist, or at least I wasn’t until I started to do collage work. There is something so satisfying about cutting up tiny bits of paper and reconfiguring them as a way of painting a canvas. Art does have a story, and stories do have an art to them. I’m fortunate in my case that I love art as much as I love books, and I’m immensely happy that my book about Emerson Page honors this connection between all art mediums. Ultimately art in any form expresses what we feel and know in our hearts and souls. And by expressing and sharing those feelings, a part of us lives on far beyond our years.
I’ve been working on a paper collage – my largest piece yet – that depicts the story of my book, Where the Light Enters. I spent yesterday immersed in tiny bits of colorful paper while binge watching This Is Us. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our writing is to make it visual for ourselves and for the world to see. Now when I’m busily writing, editing, and revising Emerson’s story, this collage will be there pushing me forward.
I just finished my 7 paper collage portraits. Each of them has a little “wink” in them about the subject of identity. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring bold colors, textures, and ideas in this group. What makes us who we are? How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? And how do we reconcile the differences within us?
From the upper left corner, the collage titles are:
Inspire the Future
Always Pay Your Rent
The Best Things
A Certain Recognition
Don’t Crack Under Pressure
Writer in Transit
I really like this art form and I’m thinking of ideas for a much larger piece with a greater variety of materials.
What do you get for the dog who has everything he needs? The same thing you get for people who have everything—art. I made this paper collage for Phineas to capture his philosophy on life. Merry Christmas, Phin!
Here’s the Phineas Way:
This is a snapshot of my newest paper collage. It’s a re-creation of the D.C. Cool logo composed of small bits of paper that were part of advertisements for other cities.
Washington, D.C. has a bit of everywhere packed into a big city that feels like a small town. I moved here about 9 months ago and it’s really beginning to feel like home to me. I’ve still got a lot of exploring to do, and this collage is a reflection of my journey in this shining city so far.
Kaufman and Hart were right about so many things, especially this – you can’t take it with you. Everything that you can hold in your hands will eventually break or be tossed aside. I don’t collect things. I don’t even like the idea of having too many things beyond the basic necessities. I am constantly amazed by how few material things I need to love a good life. What I collect and cherish are the things that will last a lifetime: the amazing relationships I have with people and the memories of experiences we have together. So let’s put our attention and energy where it really counts: focused on the people who make our lives so worth living.
Many hours and thousands of bits of colorful magazine ads glued on canvas conspired to create my first paper collage. I’m really proud of taking advertisements that told us we need to buy more to be more and transforming them into a creative act. Below are pictures of my process. I hope they inspire you to create your own art!