I've been in the habit of calling the "backgrounds" in my new greeting card line my "messes". Gorgeous messes, indeed, if you ask me! I don't mean it in a derogatory way at all - rather, I love the challenge of making them and then wrangling them into a pleasing final product. When I make them, I *do* make a mess! They are not all used in my line, either. Some just don't make the cut. What's fascinating for me to watch is when I make one & think it's "no good" or "too messy" - and then it becomes one of my favorites as I work with it behind the scenes.
The process to make the abstract messes is fast and intuitive, with micro decisions and informed movements happening all along. This is a place where I get to surprise myself. It's really a fun and playful time. The work always looks different after it dries and then even more so after I press them flat. There are many steps involved in the creation of the backgrounds. After drying and pressing, they are photographed and adjustments are made digitally, too. Generally it's just mild color and contrast tweaking - but some have a little more finessing.
After that, I send them out for proof prints from my printer so that I can see how the color looks on the paper I will use for the cards. I will have a list of card ideas - words or drawings that I want to use. The thing is, and this is also surprising to me, you can't force it once you start to combine the two. Once I see the printed proofs (all jammed together on big 11x14 double sided sheets to save money & paper) - I have to go through them one by one to see what THEY want to say. Often, I will think a card will say one thing or another, and when I see it printed.... nope. It goes a whole different direction. Same for ones that I thought were duds.
I tried forcing one once, and I even printed it up officially - it's a relic for the history books now. I'm not willing to sell it because it's just not "right". That's the secret magic of art. There's a moment it's right - at least in my mind, as the maker. This is the joy of making for me. It's a mess, it's cleaned up, it's messy again, it's awful, it's intriguing, sleep on it - ah, and then it's there! Even for greeting cards.
I have struggled to write an artist statement for a few years but I think this really is close to why and how I'm making what I make lately. I've gravitated ever more magnetically and consistently to circles / round forms / spirals / concentric circles in the past year. There's a connection that resonates for me in repetitive shapes and how they differ but create a cohesive whole. The same can be said for spirals in how the line wobbles or varies in width, but creates the collective understanding of a spiral. Again, concentric circles convey this, too. Add in the element of the mess - plus the repetition into cohesion - this is a visual piece energized by human experience.
The cycles, the daily routine, the work, the upkeep, the birthdays, the sun sets, the meals, the weeks and years. Repetition. With variety. With wonder. With individuals in all their radiant messiness of internal life blending into the cohesive collective. Generations, growing as families and people age. Concentric circles. Spirals of life winding around the piece they need to get in this life.
To all this, I leave you with this thought: Poetry is necessary. And poetry is so vulnerable. I'll peel into my onion peony layers.
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