I’m progressing fast with a new piece, so much so that I’ve been having muscle spasms in my brachioradialis. It takes a lot of steadiness and strength to be using a scalpel and tweezers for hours at a time but I simply can’t stop with this new piece. I don’t have a title for it at the moment. I’ve been calling it Walter A. Wood after the label on the wrought iron tractor seat in the foreground. It’s an absolute joy to work with and it so liberating after the monster slog of Beaded Lace.
I have so many choices here and so many directions to explore. Each additional embellishment messes with the perspective and adds extra depth to the photograph. I worry I’m almost being too subtle here but I think that even the bits you can’t see without a magnifier add to the overall vibe of the piece. You can barely see that the dot on the Buddha’s forehead is an extra little layer of paper but I know it’s there. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll share a side view so that you can see the multi-dimensionality of this.
I’ve just made what I think is one of the most awesome little artworks I’ve ever achieved. It is a 5″ x 5″ portrait and done is a similar way to the 2012 collage I created called Parc. There are hundreds of tiny pieces of paper building up the picture in such a way that it almost becomes a painting. The laying of the pieces is a very fine art here. During the creation I have lines of little pieces which need to be placed with such precision that just one piece out of place can ruin the picture.
With the portrait the structure of the human face is so precise that even a tiny adjustment in the positioning of facial features can change the identity of a person. The pieces that I glue in place set within a few minutes so alteration needs to be done quickly and decisively. The way our eyes perceive colour and shading, combined with the anatomy of the face means that it can be easy to mess up here. I know I’ve done the job though and am really happy with the outcome.
So why can’t you see it? Well, it was intended as a quick collage on a birthday card. It got a little out of hand and ended up taking me most of a day but it will still be given away to the intended recipient. I think that it would be unfair to share the birthday surprise here until after the event itself. It will be shared here eventually, I promise, but until then you just have to take my word for it. I am harbouring a secret happiness, and overwhelming pride in my skill, and a real delight in knowing that what I’ve accomplished will be enjoyed by somebody else in the near future.
In the meantime, here’s Parc.
‘Parc’ 2012, 4″ x 4″ Paper collage
I’m trying not to work a 7 day week and give myself some structured time off. It’s very difficult because I often act quickly when I have an idea and then lose track of the days, weeks, and months that it takes me to complete the work. I think the way to do it is to give myself a day off from blog writing each week. So you might notice that there was nothing new here yesterday and I’ll be giving myself similar breaks at regular intervals in the forthcoming weeks.
I haven’t given myself breaks like this since… well…. since ever. This is because I often feel that a break in momentum is inviting failure. It’s a silly conclusion I know but it’s the way my brain is structured. My whole art career has been aimed at challenging my own thought processes and this is one that I need to tackle.
I can’t help but work today though. I’ve got a lot on my desk and I’m just itching to get moving on this new artwork. I’ve been cutting up a photograph of some antique wrought iron garden furniture. The realisation that I have hours of precision cutting ahead of me is daunting but I know that this will be totally worth it. It’s the slow laborious processes that I relish because they slow me down and soothe my mind. It’s a meditation that I don’t mind doing.
I’ve had to give in and start using a magnifier to do close work. I’m telling myself that it’s not because I’m getting old but because professionally I need to protect my eyes from overuse… and I’m getting old. It’s a very strange sensation and I’m feeling quite out of touch with what I’m seeing through the magnifier. I’m so used to 2mm pieces being exactly 2mm that suddenly seeing them much bigger is like some sort of out-of-body experience.
I don’t like this at the moment and it’s taking a lot of getting used to. I just have to accept this and get on with it.
Dig deep. Push on. Create something awesome.
I have a real problem keeping time. My internal clock can register a day but it really struggles to keep track of things like weeks and years. I cannot tell you how many years it has been since key world events and if anyone asks me to work out how long it has been since 1984 for example I’m often off by a decade. In my head I have no ability to place key events from 2000 to 2010. I know things happened during that decade but I cannot locate a reference point in my head to tell you what year it occurred.
I have a similar problem at a local level. I know it is Wednesday but I really have to think hard about how many days it has been since I met with friends. Usually I cheat with such things and look at my diary. My diary also tells me what’s coming up so that I have a chance of making sure I’m where I should be and when I should be. To outsiders this makes me appear obsessive and organised when they see me consult my diary all the time but this really isn’t the case. It is simply that I am absolutely lost in time and have found a handy coping strategy to keep me in touch with the world.
This dislocation from events has only been occurring in the last decade or so (I think). Five years ago I got rid of my TV and also went self-employed. These decisions mean I often lose reference as to what is going on. I hear no pointless office gossip or have co-workers who keep regular habits, and I also have very few popular cultural references to ground me. This cultural deprivation and the lack of externally imposed work routine means time simply slips away from me.
I don’t think it helps that I work as such a prolific rate. I’m not very good at stopping and taking stock of things because to me three days feels the same as three months. My boredom threshold is so low, and my hyperactivity so high, that after an hour I’m itching to get started at something new. I live very much in the now rather than in the past because it is the only point of reference that I stand a chance of understanding. I make lists of how to approach the future and get confused very easily if plans change. I reckon I’m too young for Dementia so I wholeheartedly blame my Aspergers instead.
I started this blog to try and allow myself to reflect on my art. This helps to affirm that I have done stuff and am progressing in a satisfactorily work related way. It works as a database of my creative processes for others as well as acting as an external memory for myself. I have absolutely no idea how long it has been since I completed my Beaded Lace artwork. I’m guessing days but it could be weeks. I guess I’d better put ‘Read through Recent Posts’ on my list of things to do.
I broke my New Year’s resolution pretty early on in 2014. I swore I’d get involved in fewer little group shows and focus on larger things. I just can’t help myself because to me every opportunity, no matter how big or how small, is still an opportunity. I don’t know whether local is better than national or if international is better than local. I haven’t got a clue if things will lead down dead ends or to something more lucrative. I can’t know. If I knew then I could bottle it and sell it and we’d all know where we are in life.
What I do know is that everything is connected. This connectivity cannot be harnessed, only steered gently to new and potentially more interesting things. A little favour for a friend can turn into an introduction with potential. The dead ends, disappointments, and constant rejections will always be there but there will be more future choices if I keep taking the risks. Taking the time and effort to connect with new people is just as important as making top quality work. I’m always taking the chance that being in a particular place and at a particular time will work for me. I don’t call it fate or destiny because I really think that life is what you make it. I just trust that the consequences of small and insignificant actions today can lead to bigger and better things tomorrow.
All this philosophical rambling is relevant. This new artwork I’m doing now is based on a source photograph I took recently in Bath, UK. If I hadn’t said yes to helping out a friend on that day I wouldn’t have been in Bath at all. I’ve been back several times since and it hasn’t been the same; items in different places, different light etc. This source image was not destined to happen, but by taking a chance on the little things and by helping people out then I got a result and I’m making it work for me.
This new piece feels like it’s progressing faster than my previous work. I think this is because I was bogged down with Beaded Lace for quite a while. The abstract nature of the image didn’t stimulate me at all and it was a mental upheaval every time I sat down to work on it.
Already this new work feels lighter and more stimulating. It makes me want to explore and examine what it can potentially do for me. The cuts are varied in style and the overlaps between layers of paper will be more challenging. I’m enjoying this one already.
I had a day off completely from art and art related stuff yesterday. This little break was well overdue but it didn’t stop me thinking of how to proceed with new work.
Often I spend a few days staring at something before I decide how to make my first move. I never know where I’m going with new stuff. I just go with what feels right and trust that the rest will follow. These 16″ x 16″ photographs are not cheap to get printed and here the source photograph is on traditional silver based photographic paper. With cutting Digital-C type prints such as these there cannot be any mistakes. Everything has to be cut with care and precision and the first cut is always fraught with indecision and worry that I’m going to get it right.
It’s such a relief to have got this first cut done. Now I can relax and trust in my own instinct that all else will flow because of this.
I shouldn’t have this much energy at the moment. It simply isn’t natural but I’m already getting stuck into a new art work this evening.
I’m currently debating this little detail. The source photograph is totally different to my Beaded Lace piece and it’s really refreshing to be starting something new and to be in a new head space. I’m not sure where this piece will be heading at the moment but that just fuels my enthusiasm.
Despite only 3 hours sleep last night I have finally finished Beaded Lace. This artwork is made from more than 20000 hand cut and applied paper and bead pieces and is 16″ x 16″ (40cm x 40cm). I’ve nearly lost my eyesight with this one. It really is fiddly and as detailed as it looks.
This mixed media collage is a response to ideas on raw materials and fine cloths and how they can be fashioned into new and beautiful art forms. I’m hoping to show it first in Manhattan NY later this year.
A photograph simply does not share the enormity and complexity of what I’ve achieved here.
So here’s a video too!