I have always been a maker. Always. Always asking myself the question “What if?” and experimenting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not but always learning in the process. Always desiring to encourage children and emerging artists to experiment and try something new too.
Experimenting has brought me to question texture in my work and push watercolor to the breaking point. The process first begins with applying gesso to my paper then working on unconventional surfaces such as “Yupo Paper” and using found objects to paint thru or stamp into wet paint.
One day, as I was trying to come up with a cheaper way of teaching my middle school students about mono printing, I ran across an article about using Jell-O for the printing plate. Once again, “What if?” came knocking and I was off to the nearest Walmart to purchase Knox Unflavored Gelatin. By the next morning, the floor was covered with the greatest prints made on old newspaper, using all kinds of things to add texture into the wet paint rolled out on my Jell-O plate. The kids loved it and were very successful at creating wonderful prints.
I kept experimenting and soon I had bags full of these crazy abstract prints. What is a girl to do? I had made hand-printed cards and prints of all sizes, using stencils I had cut by hand. I had so many prints sitting around but, at some point I had to ask another question: “Where is this going?” And my favorite question came back to mind. “What if?” What if I use these crazy abstract prints and collage them into something not so abstract?
By painting an acrylic under-image, tearing and then pasting the prints onto the surface, a new body of work was born. There was no looking back. I was addicted. I found the process of tearing and gluing down the bits of hand painted paper much like sculpting. My years of watercolor painting had taught me about color, temperature and form. The tactility of the printing on the papers and the tearing of them become almost “Zen”- like, resting my mind into a place of more creativity. I began to work more and more solely in my new art form in my very public studio in our local Coffee Shop.
Being more open to creative ideas, always asking “What if?”, I became aware of people like Doug, who often works crossword puzzles at the Shop, thinking how cool it would be to add one of his crossword puzzles to a painting. It would be carrying other people’s history into my work, so I asked him if I could have a finished puzzle and what I wanted to do with it and now Doug’s crossword puzzle is a part of my art.
Regulars at the Coffee Shop became involved as they heard how I’d included Doug’s puzzles in my pieces, they brought me old maps, old sheet music and even an old aviation map- which is now part of one of my paintings.
I have taken old everyday things with a history of the people that gave them to me and given them new life. If you look hard you might see Mary’s ordinary shopping list peeking out of the collaged sky of a painting with the word “milk” lightly showing through. I even asked the guys at the oldest burger shop in Raleigh to save me used order slips. Now I’m putting them into a collage of the burger shop. Now, everyone who ordered a burger that week is unknowing a part of my art process. I have people bringing me newspapers from all over the world: France, China, Korea and many other places. I also use Chinese Calligraphy paper rice paper and other handmade papers in my work. Most of the work for right now is animals, flowers and birds- sometimes whimsical and fun. Each piece of finished work is coated with a UV varnish to protect it for years to come.
My passion is to continue to ask “what if?”, to open new venues of creativity for myself as well as students of all ages; to expand and include and be a part of the community, of the world at large.