Tag Archives: collage

Poem for a Rainy Day: Recovering

I am a recovering know-it-all

Before that I was self-righteous

Prior to that I was a

Miss Goody-Two-Shoes

A first-born sibling

A mother of three

No four

Now I realize I

Have two left feet a

Collaged ego

I only hang out with those

Who are better and know

More than me

In some way

Always.

DS

“Mossy Tree Roots, John Lawson Park” Phone Photo DS

IMG_1964

Advertisements

End of Summer Retreat Day Part I

Hand Painted Collages

“Hand-Painted Collages” by DS Phone Photo

I awoke with an unexpected empty day ahead.  I still hoped for the call or text that would bring my complex plans to fruition before 8:00am.

It was a day of nothing

It was a day of disappointment

It was a day of getting used to a new normal, of not seeing a loved one daily going forward. And a day of waiting for another’s decision.

At 6:30pm I had a class but it was 10 hours away.

 

I felt unsettled, down, post-anger.

It was a day after the rain

It was a day of sun of still summer

It was a day to fill

But I could do no work.  Hopes had been dashed.

 

A new plan came to me

I would practice what I preach

I compiled a personal retreat day

Consisting of

An intention

A drive

A snack

Observation of nature

A walk

Some favourite quotes to read

Something new to do

A rest

And no time limit

Although the parking sign said

Two hours max

 

Energy returned so I did some chores before I left.  Actually truth be told I felt a surge of creativity come over me.

 

I started some collage art cards

Finished one for a friend in recovery

Left the chores for later

Inspiration takes priority today

 

The retreat started with a detour

A visit to a site neglected in my daily round

A place unvisited was photographed

And considered for future thoughts

 

The retreat took a walking turn

A turn toward Ambleside Beach

Rerouted West

Another detour to Crema

Food for the soul could wait

 

The retreat continued at the community garden

Competition for my muffin

A stare from a seagull offering

Unwanted accompaniment

He was big

He was white and grey

He had a yellow and red eye

He was persistent in his

Observation

 

A flashback of Hitchcock’s “Birds” came

My mind reasoned

As I looked at

His hooked

Yellow

Strong beak I felt

Peace as I remembered his

Scavenger character disciplined

In his gaze

I put my muffin away

 

The sun on the sea

Felt new

Felt stolen

Felt gifted

Shifted me to

Another bench

 

A bulldog came catching

A ball next door

I checked that he could not reach me

Not quite

Another danger averted

Subverted my focus

And fears subsided.

 

A couple walked down the lawn

I said Hi rather than

Appear withdrawn

I stretched my face to

A smile she gladly returned and

Reported that she had hidden a chair in a bush

That she would drink her beer and then go to work

At 11:30 am.

Paradox: Self-Promotion and Humility

If artists do not promote themselves no one else will. In fact no one else will even know that his or her work exists. Yet for a follower of Jesus, the example is humility, and oh yes, Jesus always promoted himself. What? Or did he?

Jesus often told people who he was and why he had come. He taught people about his Father. In fact his main focus was on the Father’s love for people.

Jesus did not promote himself for selfish reasons. I have to admit that Jesus revealed whom he was in ways that made him unpopular. Where am I going with this? I am not sure.

As an artist I need to sell my work. My work is often not easily accessible and needs to be explained. To explain I need a platform. To get a platform I need to promote myself and my work.

I find myself wondering what Jesus would have been like in his decade or so of working in the carpenter shop. I know the workmanship would have been superb. His dealing would have been honest. The work would have been on time and under budget. But, how would he make sales?

Perhaps the world as he knew it then has changed dramatically. (He continues to know it as he is still with us through his resurrection.) In the village, there may have been a carpenter’s guild. People would have known him and his work well because of word of mouth and the reputation of Joseph’s work. The work probably came to him. Jesus, I imagine, would have worked humbly without promoting his work or himself. In fact, his work, by its nature may have been self-effacing, yet he is the Creator of the whole world.

As a carpenter in a village he would have created functional items from time-tested designs. He did not work then as a wood artist or sculptor. What is the difference between making functional items and creating original work that is experimental, ephemeral, conceptual, thought provoking or just plain beautiful? I do not know the answer.

My work is more like the latter. In a tough economy people buy what they need to function in daily life: plates, cups, and bowls. Their focus is on survival. In these days of fake news, and especially real news, paying the bills is paramount.

Galleries suffer in down times yet art is deep and creative in a culture under duress. I think of the Dada movement of WWII. Art was made that deliberately made no sense – and it helped the artists to keep their sanity when their work was declared an affront to the state and they were deported or left.

Actually it was an affront to the state. That is why it was created. The state had gone wild. Artists had the courage to reflect this.

Anyway, that art did not sell then but now is literally worth millions. The German artist Kurt Schwitters, known as the father of modern collage, created small collages out of whatever crossed his path as he lived in a prisoner of war camp in Scotland. Work that would now be worth millions was thrown in the garbage by the guards. I saw a small collage he made one year in the Vancouver Art Gallery, 8 x 10, browned with age, bits of ordinary paper. I ask, how could this be worth millions?

It brings me back to the big questions, what is art, what is the artist, who is the viewer, what makes someone buy art? Is art worth dying for? I ask here for your answers, tell me.

 

LifeStrife

“Life/Strife” Mixed Media Collage DS

 

Blue Suede Shoes

IMG_3105

“Blue Suede Shoes” Collage DS

So yesterday as I walked the UBC campus a woman came out of a building wearing blue suede shoes. I had just written an in class test and was on my way to grab lunch at a nearby Italian café. My hand went to my bag to retrieve my phone to capture her feet. Then disappointed, I realized I could not take a photo of her feet without being observed. I thought perhaps it would be a violation of her privacy unless I asked permission. I was too tired for that level of sociability.

Today they are still etched in my memory. They were a lighter blue than expected – just a bit paler than blue jeans. They had chunk brown heels and matching blue fringes along the sides of the low rise boots. They complimented her pencil skirt in beige. She was a student of fashion.

Last week I had just gifted a light blue-framed collage I had created months go. It featured a cut-out of boots which I had coloured royal blue. The abstract surrounding magazine imaging of ochre and orange I supplemented with royal purple, green, red and white paint. The idea of creating those blue suede shoes low in the picture plain gave me great pleasure. I did not know why.

It came to me that they were a metaphor for dancing, yes. I have always, from my earliest days of doing the Scottish “Highland Fling” and “Sword Dance,” loved dancing. In recent years, after a catastrophic ankle injury, I do not dance – on the outside. Inside, however, I dance as much as I have always done. This, I see, is God’s message to me. He sees me, as I really am – a dancer.

David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Second Book of Samuel

Redaction and Collage

IMG_2994

“Scripture Fragment” 2016 DS

The penny has dropped. The light bulb has gone on. Redaction and collage are the same. One pieces together the writings of others. The other gathers and glues found images. The author/artist unites them with a few of her own ideas. What could be better?

These seem to be very postmodern pastimes. Yet they are each ancient practices. DeSilva a Bible scholar and Rauschenberg a prolific artist of found objects may make strange companions but have worked in similar ways.

Redaction criticism of the Gospels pays particular attention to the differences between each fragment of text preserved. These differences cannot be collapsed together without losing the authentic voice of each of the four Evangelists. They serve an important purpose. That said, in piecing together the Jesus sayings, the redactors see that they form a related whole.

In my mind, the redactors of the ancient texts are actually like collagists. They take what is there and fit the pieces together like skilled artists use binder. The Spirit helps the redactors of Scripture like rabbit skin glue or synthetic medium promotes the harmonization of disparate images do for the artist. Authentic meaning is both discovered and made:

Presentation of the passage often connects directly with the themes or topics that are of greatest interest to the Evangelist.

Taken from (An Introduction to the New Testament by David A. deSilva)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) took 2D and 3D fragments of everyday life: a bed, a goat, a tire, or a bird, or a newspaper item, mixing together elements of high and low art to present to the world his unique skill in portraying both art and life. Memories of childhood fragments influenced his masterful work:

His mother, Dora, was a devout Christian and a frugal woman. She made the family’s clothes from scraps, a practice that embarrassed her son, but possibly influenced his later work with assemblages and collage.

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-rauschenberg-robert.htm

Redaction must be one of the most basic activities of life. Go for the gold then, when a surfeit is received. The opposite venture leads to a ‘less is more’ way. We gather and we purge, write and redact. We create paintings and we sell them. We birth children, then we say goodbye to them. Art and life are collaged by the Spirit.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

(Book of Ecclesiastes)

A Parrot in the Window

 

Snow Angel Collage

“Snow Angel” Found Paper Collage 2015 DS

Flashlight in hand I set out for a prayer walk this evening. The rain had stopped but the road glistened with all of the colours of the rainbow, sometimes together and at times a lone – red tree, blue bush, or an orange roofline with flashing LED wreaths. What a backdrop for my prayers. It had been a while since I walked in the evening.

As I climbed a hill in the leafy neighbourhood I looked up to a window and saw – of all things – a parrot. The sight took me as a symbol – of what I am not sure – of beauty, of delight, of the exotic nature of life. Just outside, within the parrot’s view, a regular birdhouse hung in the window. In awe of the bird in the lit square in the darkness, a scene of outdoor and indoor birds became my reverie.

The walk began in serious concern. I prayed for family, friends and for guidance and strength for myself in the New Year. The half-hour ended with smiles to the night sky and gratitude. Again God had spoken peace to me using birds.

The last bird was a white one, a couple of weeks ago, which flew briefly above some bushes across my sightline. I had to double check with myself that I had actually seen it. I do not recall ever having noticed a bird like it here before. I felt immediate calm as I tackled my work of creating under the pressure of the season. I was able to include a few original collage cards in with my scribed offerings this time.

It has been such a beautiful holiday season again. The snow – well it is lovely while it lasts. The Christmas lights, still shining, uplift my colourist soul. The singing – I can only say that it heals me. The laughter and giving have extended into 2016. Again there is evidence of faith, hope and love. May the new refugees in particular be overwhelmed with God’s goodness this year.

Painters and Poets

Snowflake Collage

“Snowflake Collage” DS

Christmas 2015

In my online reading, quite unexpectedly, I happened upon a contemporary thought-provoking painting of Christ’s birth: “The Nativity” by Brian Kershisnik. It became obvious from looking that so much of what is happening when we think again of the story is unseen. Another great artist said:

“My aim is always to get hold of the magic of reality and to transfer this reality into painting — to make the invisible visible through reality. It may sound paradoxical, but it is, in fact, reality which forms the mystery of our existence.” Max Beckmann

We rely on the eyes of faith or what has been called the prompting of the Spirit – a feeling perhaps or a knowing that something is true without all the facts. I think again of how my Christmas celebration seems so far from what I would like it to be each year. My habit of direct prayer, however, is always answered. I address the risen Christ, the One who was born, lived, died, rose and now lives again interceding for us at the right hand of the Father (Book of Romans).

As I go about my preparations for the holidays, I pray to this alive Jesus for something wonderful to happen again this year. I pray that He would give me the best gift on His birthday – a paradox this – as the birthday person usually receives all of the gifts. But turning expectations upside down is nothing new for Jesus. I do rejoice in this. It gives me hope for change for those who struggle – and miracles can happen – especially at Christmas. The Creator of the universe came to be with us – Emmanuel. The gladness is real and spreading. It does not depend on me or my attitude.

“Nativity” painting by Brian Kershisnik

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rKpxYjnPAM

 

This Year will be Different

by Ann Weems (1934-    )

Who among us does not have dream

that this year will be different?

Who among us does not intend to go

peacefully, leisurely, carefully to word Bethlehem,

for who among us likes to cope with the

commercialism of Christmas

which lures us to tinsel not only the tree

but also our hearts?

Who among us intends to get caught up in a tearing around

And wearing down?

Who among us does not long for:

gifts that give love?

shopping in serenity?

cards and presents sent off early?

long evenings by the fireside with those we love?

(the trimming devoid of any arguing about who’s going to hang

what where,

the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mingling with the pine

scent of the tree,

and carols gently playing over our idyllic scene)

and the children! The children cheerfully talking about

giving instead of getting?

Who among us does not yearn for

Time for our hearts to ponder the Word of God?

Moments of kneeling and bursts of song?

The peace of quiet calm for our spirit’s journey?

 

This year we intend to follow the Star

instead of the crowd.

But, of course, we always do

intend the best.

(And sometimes best intentions tend to get the best of us!)

This year, when we find ourselves off the path again

(and we invariably will!),

let’s not add yet another stress to our Advent days,

that of “trying to do Christmas correctly”!

Instead let’s approach the birth of our Lord

with joyful abandon!

 

And this year

let’s do what Mary did and rejoice in God,

let’s do what Joseph did and listen to our dreams,

let’s do what the Wise Men did and praise and glorify God

for all we’ve seen and heard!

As for the Advent frantic pace, we don’t have time for that.

We’ll be too busy singing!

This year will be different!