Sunday, July 3, 2011

Paper, rock, scissors . . .

Good Sunday to All!

It is another wonderful day and to my immense satisfaction, I woke up feeling inspired, a feeling that has eluded me for the past few weeks.  Do not misunderstand, while I always have a project on the drawing board, I did not have anything that I was mulling over or researching in order to see how to go about it.  I usually have a few projects that I am working on at the same time so that I can switch from one to the other just to give myself a little variation in how I approach the day.  When I find myself at a loss as to how to proceed or in need of inspiration, I know that I am not myself and my mood tends to cross over the blue line and right into a desperate mind block.  In other words, my inspiration packed its bags and bailed out, leaving an empty, forlorn shell of a person who needs some stimulation for the brain matter.  Desperate times call for desperate measures!

So, how does "paper, rock, scissors" relate to my quest for art inspiration?  That little game taught me to look for art inspiration in every thing that I do and that even the most insignificant piece of paper, clay or what have you can be turned into "art."  Art, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  While I drool over a sheet of off white paper, thinking of its possibilities, someone else might get similar shivers up their spine over a piece of fabric, dreaming of turning said piece into a stylish skirt or even something as simple as a tote bag.  We all look at things differently and that is what makes art so interesting in my eyes.  When I head out to do the shopping for the week, I consciously look for interesting colour combinations, different shapes/styles of jewelry and so much more.  I have a little notebook in my bag to jot down ideas as they come to me or even make note of an interesting hat, handbag or pair of shoes that I may have encountered whilst out to pick up salad greens.  You never know when inspiration might strike and lately, I need every bit of help that I can find.  For some reason, I have not been feeling those zen moments, those moments when I lose myself in my art.  My mind has been stuck on worrying about something that I really have no control over.  That is so foolish, but it happens to all of us and the feeling of spinning my wheels whilst remaining stuck in that one spot makes me anxious.  I have given myself a firm shake with a stern admonishment to move on and get back to what gives me joy and that is making art.

Thank goodness, my order of Japanese paper which contained the much sought after etchu hagaki sheets arrived mid week and brought my spirits that eluding feeling of joy along with the temptation to make something.  The paper is even more wonderful than I had imagined and I have cut one sheet into four pieces so that I can try different approaches to adding texture without wasting the precious commodity.  This paper is of a heavier weight than your normal paper.  The best way to describe it would be to say that it feels heavy as if you were holding a thin paperback book and that if you bent the sheet, it would crack in half.  The deckled edges and off white colour add to the visual interest.  While one side is smooth, the other side has a slight texture when one runs their fingertips across it.  Suffice it to say that I am intrigued with this paper and plan to use it mindfully over the next few weeks.  That is to say, I do not want to waste it so I will work out any intended subject matter on less expensive paper before transferring the image to this special paper.  My four little test pieces will be enjoyed today while I see if I can pull each layer apart to add dimension to a piece of artwork, try adding more texture with a special texture hammer, spray a segment with water to see if that allows for some interesting effects and perhaps do a test of watercolours versus acrylics or coloured inks just to see which would be best for adding colour to a desired image.  This should prove to be an interesting day if I can work through all these tests and document the results.

Along with this shipment of paper, I also decided to purchase a few other pieces of Japanese paper.  When I look at a catalogue of samples, my mind goes into overdrive and I pick up a few pieces of different patterns and varieties of paper.  In a way, it would have been best if I had not found out the joy of working with different papers, but my soul would be lacking a certain something had I not found such intrigue with these papers.  I purchased a few sheets of a lacquered paper which has a black background with a cherry red pattern embossed on it.  This paper is so lovely that I almost feel that cutting into it is a crime.  But, for the sake of art, I will get past this fear of cutting and try a sheet of it on a project idea that came to me whilst reading through a book looking for inspiration.  A few sheets of this precious commodity are destined to become covers for some journals that I hope to work on over the next month.

Creative Embellishments for Paper, Jewelry, Fabric and More written by Sherrill KahnSherrill encourages you to take chances and suggests different ways to use materials and develop your ideas into full blown pieces of art.  Reading through different chapters, I found my defining "aha" moment when I read that Sherrill keeps a piece of paper on the side of her work area and refers to it as her "serendipity paper."  This is a piece of paper (or fabric) that you use to do an initial image after inking your stamp.  Using this same piece of paper whilst working on a project can result in an equally interesting artwork since it contains all the colours that you have used on your actual art piece, but it has a totally different feel to it since you were not obsessing over the placement of stamped images or other ways of adding colour to your work.  This is a piece of test paper that often turns out to be equally if not more interesting than the piece of art you had in mind and captured on the intended canvas or paper.  Sherrill advises you not to discard this sample piece since it can be cut up and worked into collages or with a little conscious effort, turned into something you might want to frame up as a piece relating to your primary artwork.  In other words, no piece of paper is too small to use as a component in another type of art.

In Sherrill's book, she has a section on making pieces of paper into beads which will lead you into making a bracelet, necklace or pin for your lapel.  Think of all the little pieces of paper you have stashed in a box because you do not want to waste them and toss them into the waste bin.  I cannot allow myself to throw away pieces of interesting paper and now I have another way to use them besides working them into a collage.  The piece of red and black lacquered paper just might find itself transformed into an interesting necklace to wear along with a little black dress that I broke down and purchased.  The possibilities for using these scraps of paper are countless and my fingers are itching to get my apron on and get messy.  The list of supplies required are minimal and I have an assortment of jewelry findings that will help finish off the necklace giving it a more polished look.  Hopefully, by my next post on July 10, I just might have a few pieces of jewelry to show you as well as a few other things that I hope to work on through the week.

So, this the map to the journey I am currently enjoying.  It has taken a lot of brainstorming and quiet contemplation to reach this point and then to decide which pathway I should travel.  But, at least I feel that I have once again found my muse who encourages me to try different things.  That is a good feeling!  However, my muse has also persuaded me that a trip to the art shop along with a stroll through the office supply superstore is in order and long overdue.  It feels good to blame my muse for the little shopping spree that I anticipate will take place on Wednesday.  I promise to be good and not purchase anything that I do not need.  I can justify going into the office supply shop since it has a photocopying machine for the public to use and I do want to get copies of a pattern so that I can work out different colour combinations on less expensive paper before committing to working on the "good stuff."  This little trip will only be for a few hours, but will result in days of inspiration and ideas.  I think that is a fair trade off and truthfully, just looking at some things will give me a jump off point for an artistic adventure without any actual purchase.  I'm so looking forward to this little trip as it has been far too long since I actually went into either shop. 

I hope your week holds the promise of something you enjoy pursuing.  I think the lesson I have learned from this latest period of the blues is that I need to find pleasure and inspiration in the everyday encounters that I so often discount, thinking them too mundane to hold any artistic promise.  Before yesterday, I would never have thought that I could transform a piece of interesting paper into wearable art.  And that is the joy of my journey, making the ordinary into something totally different from what it was destined to be.

I would love to hear about how you handle those moments when inspiration has evaporated and you feel like you might never find your muse again.  Do you head out to an art gallery, sign up for a class in a different art form, or do you go for a walk through a garden?  Everyone handles these bleak periods differently and maybe by sharing our thoughts on this, we might help each other by seeing something different that we might want to try the next time our minds go blank.  I will post everyone' s comments as I receive them and hopefully this will help another through a rough spell.  We all get them and it is nothing that you feel you have to hide.

Here is to a week full of inspiration and the time to work along with it!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

P.S.  Inspiration comes in so many different forms.  Some of us "create" through paint, collage or cooking.  If you like to cook, need some inspiration for weekly menus along with the recipes and shopping list, do yourself a big favour and head over to .  Julie Anne a.k.a. Jewels, is a personal chef who is committed to helping everyone get dinner on the table without losing their cool after a hectic day. The recipes are wonderful, healthy and if you become a member, you can join in the chatter taking place in the forum.  You will meet the nicest people on this site and Jewels helps not only with her recipes, but also with her blog where she shares tips, wonderful stories of her life through food related memories and so much more.  Check out her web site and you will find the most down to earth lady who can relate to the problems of getting meals on the table, but even better, has the solution to the problem.  With her help and by doing some prep work for a few hours on a weekend morning, you will have a week's worth of dinners cooked and in the refrigerator/freezer ready for the week ahead.  While it may sound daunting, with a little practice, you will have the PCA approach mastered in no time.  Jewels changes the weekly menu on Wednesdays so you can get your shopping list done ahead, do your shopping and be ready to have some fun in the kitchen.  Get the family involved and help your them learn some much needed life skills that will help them make healthy choices when your teens venture out of the nest and have to cook for themselves.  Instead of relying on take outs for their meals, your family will learn that making a meal is so much more economical, healthier and great time spent together.  Jewels will help you make meal time into a great time for the entire family to reconnect after a busy day. That alone is worth the prep time!

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