Getting Down and Dirty in a Paper Slurry

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Over the summer I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Western paper making Class at the Morgan  Art of Papermaking Conservatory  in Cleveland, Ohio.

http://morganconservatory.org/morgan

This is something I have wanted to do for several years and  finally it happened!  Two wonderful days just hanging out with gooey hands, slightly wet feet, an enormously unattractive plastic apron, and a big smile on my face.  In my artwork I use paper in many different ways and I have encountered a multitude of types and characters of  paper.  How little we consider its source and creation.


The process is simple, messy and ancient.  I was intrigued by how one takes the wet slurry mixture of fiber and water, scoops it artfully into a deckle, or frame, lets the water run back out, and then “couches” the sheet onto a soft resting place.  Then  with time and a little pressure and paper is born.

 

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As usual, there are all  sorts of different fibers to use, interesting colors, additives, and so forth.  And as usual I got carried away experimenting and discovering. It really is a very meditative art.  I was reminded how things in life can be changed from one  form to another.  How the seasons change, water changes form, and how relationships  change and how I change. I was reminded that change takes patience, time and sometimes a little pressure. Paper making is a little shadow of giving birth.  It is wonderful to create something which has never before been.  An encounter with the divine. Have you hugged your paper today?

 

 

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And then at the end  there is a terrific amount of clean up.  Doesn’t that always seem to be the case?  And as the sponges were being propelled, the buckets emptied, the trash deposited, the tables and counters wiped, supplies replaced to their spots and the mops came out… I couldn’t help but  see the  simple beauty in a well organized cleanup job.

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The Greening Season…Within and Without

      

Opus Verbi viriditas

Hildegard of Bingen

(The work of the Word is greenness)

 

Last Summer I wrote about celebrating the color Green and being healed by its visits. And here I am again living on the edge of the woods at the “ Greening Time”.  Everywhere I look I see GREEN in its many shades and hues.  In our home every window and every door leads to the GREENING. And this year because we had devastating flash floods in our area last month I am seeing that Green is the Child of Sister Water.  Green tells us that  water in one of its many forms is present and replenishing.

 

ALL AROUND ME I AM SURROUNDED BY THE Hopeful MESSAGE OF GREEN

ALL THE MOSSES, GRASSES, SHRUBS, TREES AND FLOWERS JOIN TOGETHER TO GIVE AN ENORMOUS  GREEN GRADITUDINOUS  SHOUT OUT TO SISTER WATER AND ALL HER REPLENISHING WAYS.

THE WORLD AROUND ME IS SWALLOWED UP IN ONE HUGE HALLELUJAH CHORUS all in the chord of GREEN

 

Viriditas   is a term used by Hildegardof Bingen , a mystic and Abbess of the 12th century. It means greenness , and the greening power of God.  The tremendous green around me helps me consider the garden that grows within me . Our  current society often seems to be so focused on technology that we see the natural green around us and then ignore it. The Green I believe is calling out to us to consider life, consider our gardens within, and the gardens which dwell in our relationships.  These inner gardens, do we tend them or ignore them?  I want to be a friend of Green, a student , a listener.  In the spirit of St Francis I would say, Sister Green speaks a joyful message of life, replenishment and hope.  In Northeast Ohio, after a  harsh winter, I would say  that Sister Green is here  to remind us of second chances and redemption.

 

As I Walk Among the Papers and the Paints


 

 

I am fascinated by paper and paint. Where did they come from? In whose grey cells did they first originate?  What inspired the invention of paper?  It occurs to me that paper was invented because of human relationships and out of a desire to communicate and  to share.  And Paint?  Paint was also born out of a need to communicate and  to express something. And the union of the two together? It speaks of the deep innate human need to express and to share thoughts and ideas. In this technological age when computers do it all and never a pen is lifted or a brush dipped, these ancient images are powerful to me.   Consider all the stages, choices, errors and triumphs which must have occurred before paper was a solid sheet, rather than a pile of mush.  I wonder if the people who looked on at the inventors of paper thought they were wasting their time playing in the mud!   I wonder about the first natives who dipped their fingers or sticks in a bowl of berry juice and drew a picture.  Did their family think they were a little crazy? And yet a spark of the divine inspired these two priceless inventions.

 

As a collage artist I have found myself as a citizen in the world of paper and paint.  It is almost like a parallel world.  This is a place where I can travel, refresh, take inspiration, receive wisdom and be healed. It is a form of meditation for me.  My whole body  is drawn into this meditation and it becomes a part of me.  All my senses, thoughts and prayers are given a new perspective as I walk among the papers and the paints.

 

 

And then we add the spirit of color! Color is another world all to itself.  It goes on and on to the heights and depths.  Where man, gravity, heat, cold, sound, light and water cannot go…color goes on. I believe that color is a powerful , silent force in our world and that most of us are missing the point. Color invites us in and its message is that life is deeper, eternal and joyful.

 

 


A subject of recent interest to me is the area of handwritten letters and how they symbolize the “more gentle age” in which I grew up.  A time when people were not all in a hurry, but were willing to take the time to sit and write a letter to friends and loved ones.  I enjoy incorporating pieces of these letters in some of my works in honor of their wholesome beauty.

Occupational Hazards of Collage

I have always thought that art was sort of a safe pastime.  I realize that many of our human pastimes have unseen dangers in them but I always thought that art was an exception.  Boy, was I wrong.  In my last post I mentioned that my creative juices were flowing and I was having a wonderful time creating in new and different ways.  This has been going on for several months now.  Last week I was surprised to see that I was cutting collage papers in the kitchen while I waited for the soup to thicken or the water to boil.

Then, a few days later, the inevitable happens:

“Mom, you won’t believe this but there is a collage paper in my soup”

and the very next day another child exclaims:

“Mom, you won’t believe this but I just found one or your collage papers in my casserole!”

Actually, I was only mildly surprised! Art can be dangerous!

It is not good to let a passionate artist cook you dinner and it is even worse to let them drive your car!!! As I am innocently driving my car,  through the woods, suddenly I will see a color or texture which captures my imagination.  And I mean “Captures”.  I find myself planning collages, the woods become splintered in several different pieces of paper, the colors start to roll and swirl though my mind, the color of the sky is not quite right, needs a little more grey….

 

and then with a little divine intervention suddenly I am called back to reality.  I suddenly realize that I  am driving a car not creating a collage!

And then there are  the odd and unusual urges that seize me out of the blue.  At Church, I begin to notice the lovely textured purple jacket of the woman in front of me… as, what would it be like if I poured some New Gamboge (yellow) paint over that deep purple.  Or I wonder what would happen if I pulled a few yarns on the nubby sweater on the woman to my left…. So far I have been blessed and caught myself before I have caused a public nuisance.  Maybe tomorrow I will not be so fortunate. Art is a very dangerous sport.

 

Creative Juices Flowing

Creative Juices Flowing

I have always loved the image of Creative juices.

 

I looked it up and the term probably  originated in 1846. Hmmm. I guess that creativity is like a river–it has movement and an unseen destination… and life springs up all around it.  In this “Bleak Midwinter” moment the creative juices are unaffected by the ice and cold. It is a privilege to be invited to enter into the world of colorful creation It is like an early spring….suddenly there are new thoughts, new growth, ideas and concepts being born.

 

Even now as the world around us is frozen, cold and locked into winter as a mixed media artist I return to the colorful ones.  Out comes the paint. Out comes the paper. In less that  30 minutes the dining room, kitchen and pool table are covered with the signs of creativity.   My household chores are forgotten. The juices are flowing. Flowing all over the house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Most artists (and their loved ones) would agree that the creative juices can be quite messy.

I would be hard pressed to explain how the creative urge takes over…and yet it is quite strong.  Dishes left in the sink, repair man left knocking on the door, lunch forgotten…and I am lost in the wonderful world of Paper collage!!!!!!!! People ask me “How do you find the time?” And I would have to say I don’t look for it…it comes to get me!

 

I am in the beginning  steps of having  some  digital prints of my collages made into FABRIC!!!!!   YES!    I see some lovely scarves coming this spring.  Just in time for the Easter Parade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November- Winter’s cold fingers

 


 

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Windy Poplars

When did this happen?  I step out our backdoor and look at the woods.  The trees are no longer dressed in crimson and gold…they are bleached, cold and naked. When did this happen?  Snow, mud,and dry dead leaves have replaced our beautiful summer.    I had the same feeling as the author above, it almost seems indecent to look at the trees in their reduced state.   It reminds me of waiting in line for an X-ray when everyone is clothed in the thin hospital gowns.  Or seeing the elderly in their night clothes.  November, is the cold fingers of winter reaching out and clearing the way. I did a little reading up on what the poets have said about November and I hate to say it but none of it is good!

Here are some exerts from a poem by Thomas Hood:

No sun–no moon!
No morn–no noon!
No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
No sky–no earthly view–
No distance looking blue–

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

 

So then I look again to the woods and a slow sense of acceptance takes hold.  November in the woods is a time of purification and solitude.  One can only look on in silence. In his book, A Book of Spiritual Exercises, Fr.Anthony De Mello, writes:

” Solitude is an act of love, a kindness to myself.

I give myself the gift of solitude, for solitude is a time when I see things as they are.”

So this is November, a time when winter gets its  cold fingers upon us.  November is a time of solitude and seeing.   November reminds us that solitude  can be a good thing. Living in the woods, I am always surprised in November to suddenly see things which the trees have hidden from our view.  There are always discoveries to be made and a cold beauty to be found.


 

Summer is Over…….

 

SUMMER IS OVER. Three small words that mean so much to so many.  SUMMER IS OVER.  The meaning of these words changes at different times in our lives.   School children and farmers would find a whole world of difference in the meaning of these terms.  Consider what the words mean to a football  star, a cross country runner, a mom sending her first child off to school.  A  teenager starting a new school in a new city .A Freshman college student ( and their parents!) A couple getting married in the Fall.  An apple farmer, a golf course manager, a  life guard for an outside pool.  And a homeless person, a beggar on the street corner. The elderly living alone. A migrant worker, a  grape picker,   and a school bus driver.  An expectant mother.  A terminally ill person and a nature photographer.  A trash collector.  A park ranger.  A person living in a remote spot in the woods and a city dweller.Everyone takes great meaning in these words and for each the meaning is very different.  But for all of us  the end of Summer is a time of reflection.

Not to mention the birds, butterflies and those restless hummingbirds setting off for the tropics. Somehow in God’s great plan the dear animals have it built into them.  The geese don’t need to be told, summer is over.

I realize this year more than before that I am going to miss the wonderful garden tomatoes of summer.   October finds me pulled, kicking and shouting that I want more tomatoes and I want another chance at summer.  I want another chance to do all the things I dreamt of doing in May.  I am  over 60 years old and yet every May I dream and scheme great plans for the summer and every October I mourn what I didn’t accomplish. Will I ever grow out of this sequence?

Yet, if summer has to end,( and in Ohio it does!), then Autumn is a beautifully glorious and fitting way to do it. Several times in my life I started to write Autumn poems and never finished.  Autumn seems to bring out the artist in all of us.

 

Summer is over and the party is ended

the trees stand knee deep in the confetti of a golden summer

 


 

Autumn is a lady Queen

dressed in  Burgundy  and Gold.

Her  entrance  is  a silence,

and a Fire that burns cold.

     ENJOY

 

 

 

 

 

Green Therapy… A walk in the Summer woods, a walk in the Company of Green


 ” I am in love with the green earth”.

 This is a new (new to me) quote by Charles Lamb that i just discovered.

THIS IS A WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR FOR  GREEN-LOVERS  IN NORTHEAST OHIO .   This summer, we have had so much rain!!! Drizzles, torrents, thunder storms, slow drips…..rain rain rain.  Today we had 2 huge storms and now we are facing flooding in several areas around us. It is miraculous to me how the rain brings forth the Great Green Life all around us in the woods and fields. It is like how you take a dropper and place a couple drops of green food coloring in some water and all of a sudden “GREEEEEEEEEN”  To walk in the woods and be surrounded on all sides with hundreds of different shades of green.  It is like a visit to nature’s spa!

Another wonderful quote about Green is the following:

Plants cry their gratitude for the sun in green joy. ~Terri Guillemets

When I walk through the woods right now it is as if I can hear great shouts of that green joy everywhere surrounding me. The mosses and lichens, the leaves and twigs, the ferns and wild plants…and the trees with their millions of glowing leaves….vines and shrubs and grasses and undergrowth….all in hundreds of shades of Green. And all grateful to the sun!!!

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca

 

I agree with Pedro.  The world’s loveliness begins and ends with green.  Take some time to  walk   in the company of Green

Life as a Huge Collage

OK,Ok… I have to admit that I have been frustrated with many artists over the years because they have not kept their web sites up to date.  I have read their sites and been excited to  see that they have an upcoming workshop that I would love to take.  Then, when I attempt to take the workshop I discover that it was over two years ago!! Oh, artists, can’t you keep your web sites  up?  So… now it is happening to me.  I cannot believe that I have not written for 6 months.  Yes, my last posting was actually last year! So where does that put me? I am now officially in the same league as some really great artists who just don’t have the energy or organization or whatever to:

live life, be reflective and go beyond

love and relate to family and friends,

create art, create better art

create original and thought provoking art

clean your home,

work for justice, care for the needy,

pay your bills and remember your taxes,

mow your lawn and pull your weeds,

guard your health and brush your teeth (don’t forget to floss)

fill out the FASA form yet again,

and keep a interesting and thought provoking  blog up to date.

I am now in with a very good group.

I see my unblogged life over the last six months as one large and fascinating piece of art. A mixed media collage if I ever saw one!!!!  This collage includes, found items, purchased items,  prepared papers, fabric, metal and lots of adhesive.  Vintage, new, antique and just plain old.  Several interesting twists and turns and some definite pieces of unnamed substance. The dramatic and the silly are both there together.  The  awesome and the plain disappointing are attached with the same glue. Life on this earth in this day and age… a true collage of experiences, people and divine appointments.

What I have in common with Scheherazade – Magenta Oh,Magenta

As I have been collaging my way through Joy, basking in the most wonderful colors and hues, I found  myself hopelessly lost in Magentaland.

As I sunk deeper and deeper I realized that the wonderful color magenta always brought the music of Scheherazade to mind.  Odd connection?????

This will explain all.  Somewhere in my youth or childhood I had an imaginative art teacher.  Today they are faceless and nameless.  No idea who or when.  They project they gave us was to listen to classical music and then draw whatever we wanted to.  The magic of the moment for me was the new box of 64 crayons…..all those colors just waiting for me!!!   Somehow I discovered Magenta that day….I was enchanted with its beauty and determination to not be ordinary. This was no red, blue or yellow…this was  a REAL COLOR!!!  And then this faceless instructor put on the music of Scheherazade…… between the lovely music and the glorious color I was lost forever in Magentaland.

I had heard the music before because my parents had the LP in their collection. The album deeply impressed me with its exotic Magenta theme….. It was wonderful to find this image of that old favorite…..

recent research into the deep meaning of Magenta in my  life I discovered that many people must have had the idea that magenta was Scheherazade’s favorite color: