The power of play

I have spent most of the last month in planning mode. It’s a great exercise for January, a time when I am personally recovering from my very busy months of art shows leading up to Christmas.

It helps me refocus, organize, clean the studio, do my accounting and other mundane and cathartic tasks that clear the way for a productive year of art-making ahead.

It can, though, trigger a sense of panic about what I have not produced to date. But, I know learning to manage that panicky voice is also an important part of this process. To this end, I turned to a tried-and-true method for me: distract my left-brain with some good old fashioned right-brain play.

About the same time, Barb, my art studio partner, was also talking about needing to do something a little different, and we immediately knew a joint studio play date was in order. Playing with art meant nothing for sale, nothing serious, and definitely nothing planned.

So, printmaker and painter turned to our other fun-making medium: collage. For Barb and me, it is the ultimate in art exploration.

The artist at work — or rather, play!

Though both of us have dabbled in collage before, we became reinvigorated with this art form recently after taking a workshop on collage last October (see my previous blog on the subject).

We found it to be hugely intuitive, very therapeutic and just plain fun! So, we scheduled a whole day in studio to collage…free of any expectations, except playing with art.

What followed was a magical few days where we took over the center of our studio (usually reserved for storage) and mucked about with photos, patterns, papers, found objects, twigs, moss, ribbon…really, just about anything that called to us.

The results were surprising and playful and soul satisfying. When I look at my final collage projects, I see something very different from my usual creations, and something totally unexpected. To coin a phrase of one of my children: “I didn’t see that coming.”

For me, it was an entirely refreshing experience, kind of like taking a small holiday. And, while we are both putting our heads down next week (back to work!), Barb and I came out of it promising to play more often and kick our serious sides in the butt. We may even schedule a messy mini-holiday once a month. Sounds like fun to me!

The center of our studio is host to a collage play time.

Tools out, and ready to start the art exploration.

I start by hand-painting a photo of my father fishing in the mountains in the late 1940s.

I mount the photo of my father on foam core to bump him up out of the art.

Progress and processes. I used liberal amounts of tissue and other studio objects. In the end, my one photo became two collages.

The collage of mountains and fisherman coming along, but at the messy stage.

This piece is full of textures and natural materials like twigs and moss.

The first of two collages using a hand-colored photo, maps, twigs and string. I call this one “Gone Fishing”.

The finished piece “Live Out Loud” draws from all the colors of the different seasons here in the Rockies.


One response to “The power of play

  1. Pingback: Time to kick back | Musings From The Studio·

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