January 6, 2015

Drawing with Scissors and Glue

Its a good thing I can create pictures and feelings out of words because I sure can't do it with a pencil or pen. Or with paint or pastels, or with charcoal or crayons, or in a box or with a fox.

I can't draw. And stop rolling your eyes and thinking that all I need to do is sit down with the right book and the right tool and believe in myself.  I do believe in myself.

I believe that I can't draw.

But that's ok because I just rediscovered that I had already discovered a way to express myself in imagery.

Collage. That potluck dinner of a medium whereby I set the table with my scissors,my glue and my paper, and you artists bring all the paintings, sketches, and photos for the main dishes. Its a meal I first started making when I needed something more than journal writing to unravel the knotted thoughts within me. And it stayed with me as I became a (slightly) more confident Creator of Stuff, willing to put my toe in the water of creating for its own sake.

Note: in case it isn't obvious, my results are for personal consumption only so please don't sue me. I am serious about not stealing art from artists, plus I know Himself would not accept the charges when he hears "This is a collect call from an inmate at World's End Copyright Violator's Correctional Facility." 

I started my collages in a large sketchbook, which I just laid hands on again.
Its like a big coffee table book of paper quilts:

And, more interesting now to me, a treasury of smaller blocks hidden in the whole:

It is also a pictorial guide to my life.  Here's when Thing One went off to college...
And here's when I rebooted. In 3D,yet.

Here I am adrift in perimenopause...
And here I am, landing safely on the other side.
Dragged down by events...
Bewildered by my brain...
And a blessed, albeit fleeting, day where I made sense of it all.
Collage is the only form of creating that I can do without planning. Where I successfully let go. I start with one piece that catches my eye and then glue with abandon, until the story my soul has been trying to tell me unfolds. Or until I've glued the sketchbook to the table.

I put this sketchbook aside and have started a new one. But instead of a journal to write in and sketchbook to glue in, I now have a single book where I do both. As an inaugural collage event, I gave myself ten minutes (9 of which were spent pulling off dried glue from the cap of the stick I forgot to tighten in 2007) and here's what happened.
Even the words streamed together from bits and pieces...
Planning a visit to the Cafe of Promise and Loss. If that isn't what being 60 is about, I don't know what is.  I know it because the gluestick told me.

And I never would have known it if I knew how to draw.


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  2. Decided to remind myself that this is your blog Jujlie as I got a bit carried away there with my story of collage and glue stick so deleted it:

    You said something that resonates so clearly with me: how glue stick and making paper collages helps you get out the story that your soul wants you to get out. For me, cloth collages work the same way in terms of how I feel about landscape...those bits and pieces of what look in the beginning to be random pieces of dyed cloth have a story that only comes when I begin to piece and pin and yes, sometimes glue into place before stitching.. The story of land is huge to me and one of the ideas that crystallized for me today was how in the traveling that Rich and I have done from 2002-2013, long before I turned to natural dyeing and stitching of cloth, I was carrying out a promise that I made to my Dad, one of his last wishes, to go out and see America. I've finally realized that my cloth collage landscapes are a way to record that journey not simply by photos but by actively engaging with the bits of land that turn my cloths into color and pattern and allow me that tactile bond and that is a precious gift....

    1. Do you work the same way, ie, just start touching and let the pieces do the walking. And then talking?

      And wouldn't it be wonderful if we could SEE these parts of yourself????

    2. Yes, I just start playing with pieces and somehow, they come together but that is not to say that there have not been a few times, when it doesn't' feel right so it is undone and the process begins again AND there have been one or two occasions in the past 4 yrs when a piece doesn't come together at all or it does, then several years later, it has fulfilled its purpose and I take it apart...

  3. i love collage...collage like this with partial images that you know were connected to
    Something but are now placed like this to become Language. And they are so much
    Language, how different viewers would tell different stories. I like that the New Book
    will have both image and your own hand writing. l0 minutes. was that to riffle through
    pages and rip images out and glue them? Or just to glue previously pull images? I
    used to teach a workshop where the selection from magazines was timed...i had stacks
    of such great and varied ones to work with...you just ripped whatever caught your eye,
    no stopping to decide, just what grapped your attention. And then it could take as long
    as needed to put them all together. It was wonderful. THIS is wonderful

    1. Ten minutes for assembling, since I keep a large basket full of finely cut or just torn images, which I used to do the cutting/tearing in front of movie watching--the days before my lap got full of birds. My best images come from the Sotheby art auction catalogues I get at the flea market for 50 cents. The best advice I got from the artist who first shared the technique with me was to fight my nature and force myself to cover the whole page. When I look back, I think my best results come from that.

    2. am really anticipating anything you can share here...

    3. Thanks, all of this is good insturction. I was already wondering how I would chose, cut and glue down in 10 minutes. Also, the part about filling the page. Good stuff.

    4. I think this deserves another post, just sharing the process. Watch this space!

  4. Wow these are incredible, I can't do collage I sit and look at images I tear out of magazines and think how am I going to assemble anything, neither can I draw or paint, and I am not so good at writing what I think either, no hope for me then it all just fils up my head with lots of randomness.

    1. And yet your weaving speaks loud and clear.

      I think you might reconsider the idea of "thinking how am I going to assemble." Do without thinking. And then go back and you can nip and tuck with some thought, if you'd like.

  5. I am green with envy for your ability to just cut and glue. You inspire me to try. My problem is/would be to try to figure it all out before gluing the first piece down. The second problem is that I would want to paint on top of it...which I do but I want to just collage. Just like you. Today I will try.

    1. I believe the expression is "you GO, girl." Or at least it works when Oprah says it.

  6. Wow Julie, what a great glimpse into the surreal humour of your subconscious, I love that line
    '...I gave myself ten minutes (9 of which were spent pulling off dried glue from the cap of the stick I forgot to tighten in 2007) and here's what happened."
    You make me laugh so much
    Oh and BTW I can draw but am truly awful with collage, I tried it once, made a dreadful mess and threw it out straight away!

    1. This is so incredibly interesting to me. Perhaps because you can make line do whatever you see in your mind? So we've discovered the downside of you being such a FINE fine artist?

  7. ........

    whenever I see someone else's collages I'm all enthusiastic and like, I am going to do this and try and end up forgetting or start and don't finish, but this is not what I want to say, what I want to say is:

    I love your collages, love love love how they manage to express your thoughts and the goings-on in your head and how you're able to unfurl for us viewers your life journey in words and images, and you always make me smile and laugh....oh you have a gift, many in fact