I’m a planner. It’s just how my brain works. I enjoy the process of thinking through a project, visualizing it, working it out in my sketchbook, then saying “go.”
But I’m learning the value of listening, responding, and just trying something out as part of the artmaking work.
This may be a lot of what I like about collage construction. I physically move things around, try different combinations, and test if what I thought would work does actually work.
The try-it-and-see approach is perfect for testing color. Color surprises are some of the best things that happen in the studio. This weekend I worked on a new set of rice paper abstract collages, intentionally doing all of the on-plate compositions in gold-and-olive neutrals. The addictive hues created by mixing cadmium yellow with either burnt umber or black work in wonderful and surprising ways with other colors. I had thought this piece would want reds and oranges for the next collaged layer. (That’s how I sketched it.) But what a surprise this teal blue is! I would never have planned that.
Try-it-and-see can be an emotional test too. In my current series about remembering home, some of the stories I am working into compositions are gut-punch-real to me. My inner reaction to an image can be very strong. That happened as I positioned this giant tree into the work in progress of the collapsed house. That was the plan from the beginning. (That’s how I sketched it.) I wanted the house to be collapsing and a large tree growing up out of its windows. But, as I positioned the tree in the picture, and I felt how powerful it was, and imagined how it must be making the house crack and splinter as it grows up out of its center, I felt it to my core. This became an affirmation. The imagined story has a lot of reality and truth in it.
As usual, what I discover in creating art has truths beyond the studio. Discoveries await. We find them — sometimes — with a plan and — sometimes — by taking chances.