WARNING: Flaky artist story below. Read with caution.
A few days ago, I was silently lamenting my “word for the year” choice. I chose a biggie. Maybe THE biggie -- certainly one of them – LOVE. I was thinking that for the first time since I began this practice of a one-word new year intention (six or seven years ago), I had perhaps not chosen the best word to fulfill my goals for this year. I thought perhaps the word was too big, too vague, too needy.
Around the same time, I had this irresistible urge to make a magazine collage -- to cut words and phrases and images out of magazines, and see what emerged. I should also mention that I was at work when this urge came over me, so I was extremely limited with time (my lunch break), and materials (three issues of Real Simple, a couple of decorating magazines, and no adhesive of any kind.)
My original plan was to arrange my collage, and then bring in a glue stick or some gel medium to finish it up the following day. I found a scrap of cardboard as a base, and began flipping through my old magazines for whatever caught my eye. With no plan for color, composition or message, I just cut out whatever appealed to me. Once I had an assortment of pieces, I began to lay them onto my cardboard, rearranging them just a bit, until I liked what I saw.
As I went to set it aside (to glue down on another day), I decided to take a quick photo of it, just in case I knocked it over. I liked the photo a lot, and it already looked like it was permanent -- and then it dawned on me -- I could now remove all of the pieces, and do a totally different collage on another day Or I could import the image into Photoshop, and enhance my collage digitally. Or I could do both, over and over again! I could not wait to get started.
The process is very different than when you commit to finalizing a piece with gel medium or glue. It is so freeing and fun to remove all fear of making a wrong choice. -- You don’t like how that looks? Move it. Take that piece off. Add those words. There. Take a picture. Add some digital magic in Photoshop. Then start again!
The most amazing part happened the following day. It is difficult to put into words how I felt, but I had somehow worked out my “LOVE” issues through this process. My word was working for me again. I had clarity about what I needed and wanted, and what was missing. Some of it was certainly the process. Making art is a very effective form of meditation. Creating, in the present moment, quiets the mind. In this case, I also felt that the piece itself was telling me something. All of those random words and images were not so random as they spoke to me:
There is only love. And what you do with it.*
*I wish to credit the Crew at Storypeople.comfor my closing, which I found in my email this morning, not at all by coincidence.