April 4, 2008

Working Backwards Works For Me

ON THE ROAD BACK TO KANSAS WITH A CUP HALF-FULL OF AHS... Mixed Media Mosaic and Pique Assiette Art Piece and Kitchen Organizer with stainless steel hooks for keys or towels, half-cup pocket for pens or cell phone, and magnetic message board. Created from recycled, reclaimed and salvaged dishware, flatware, ceramic spoon rest, old pie pan, scrap stained glass and hand-painted glass gems by craftystitchingcreations (turned into magnets).

I suppose I’m a bit backwards when it comes to my mosaic art. I start with the materials that I find and let them suggest a concept to create — rather than coming up with a concept then finding the materials to express it. This is my own process and the discipline I enforce on myself, to use at least 75% recycled, reclaimed and salvaged materials in every piece, is also my own. No one is making me do it this way, except myself, and while I see some rationale to my method (as well as some madness!) sometimes I do wonder why I do it the way I do.

TWILIGHT IN TAHITI - 14" x 14" created from recycled and retooled aluminum dish, vintage Nippon Lustreware china, broken dishware, scrap stained glass, iridescent glass chips, iridescent glass seed beads, charcoal grout

I love art of a
ll kinds and spend as much time as I can indulging myself in art in galleries, in magazines, in books, in shops and on-line — way too much time on-line! I see these brilliant, engaging and fascinating concepts, visions and viewpoints other artists manage to convey with a myriad of materials and methods, and I think to myself if only… I let myself buy a few new sheets of glass, a few boxes of new smalti, a few boxes of new tiles — and a few bits of lots of other new stuff that catches my fancy, then I, too, could start with a concept instead of just starting with stuff. Then I spend a few minutes thinking of all the ideas, concepts and visions I’ve had that I would like to translate and express in my art and I am overwhelmed. It would take me several lifetimes and many versions of each concept because as I consider all the options available with the endless choices of new materials, I realize I’m not sure where to start.

It probably stems from some unresolved childhood trauma, but I remember so many instances when I was given a brand new box of paints and a clean white canvas, or an unopened carton of pastels and a blank piece of paper, all of which thrilled me to no end, only to wind up sitting and staring at the empty paper and the endless array of color choices, unable to summon the one idea that was worthy of those marvelous new materials and that one piece of brand new paper. In the end, I always found something to fill the page with, but I was rarely satisfied with my efforts because I never seemed to be able to quite capture what I saw in my head.

With my mosaics, it’s totally different. I find the stuff first (or it finds me!) and it all seems to come together so much more easily because the stuff has a life of its own. It talks to me — sometimes right from the moment I see it I know what it wants to be turned into and sometimes not until I have collected other stuff do I realize that it is absolutely meant to be with stuff I already have. There are no blank papers here, no unused palettes of colors. This stuff has already been used and all it needs is a little creative recombination work to shine again.

When I work this way, there is no hesitation, no uncertainty — just a new adventure for me, and the stuff that comes my way. So for me, working backwards works!