Daily Archives: May 27, 2020

This Is New…

“Data Given” Collage, 16″x 20″
“Senses Even” Collage, 16″x 20″

Several years ago, along with my friend Lisa, I started posting weekly under the title, “Timeout for Art.” It was planned as a way to share our works-in-progress, and as a means of bringing art – a big part of both of our lives – into the conversation. It was a good idea. That fact alone was not enough, however, to overcome a lifetime of bad habits, procrastination and neglect on my part.

Though I always enjoyed seeing what Lisa and others were up to, I struggled with the commitment. “Timeout for Art” was one more writing obligation. “Even less time,” I told myself, “to actually make art.” Sometimes, I posted my own not-so-current works, and the work of other artists. Often I simply skipped that post entirely, settling for all of the accompanying guilt and self-recrimination. Finally, I dropped even the pretense of keeping up with our arrangement.

Aware of all of these tendencies in myself, I’ve been hesitant to try this again. I am always optimistic, though, about my ability for self-improvement. With many galleries unable to open this year, this might be a reasonable way to show my work. It is a place to talk about my processes, struggles, and inspiration. As an artist who lives on a remote island, and lives a solitary life, it’s a means of reaching out. Maybe the time is right.

My thought is to devote one day a week to art. For me, it will be an exercise in discipline. I hope it will be interesting for readers, as well. Today, though I’d intended to have several images of finished works to display, I’ve run into a few snags. Let me tell you about that.

Several collages (eighteen, in fact!) that I’ve spent the last several weeks on have turned out to be failures. Oh, they have their good points. The colors are lovely; the compositions are solid. I enjoyed working with different dimensions (long, skinny rectangles) than usual. I loved the fact that I was using up materials on hand rather than purchasing new.

In the end, though, the failures outweighed all of the good things. The papers I’d used as the surface rippled and buckled. I tried every trick I know (and I know a lot of them!) to get them to smooth out, all to no avail. The matte varnish that I employed to unify the surface sheen turned out to have a serious shine – closer to high gloss – that only served to magnify other flaws in the surface.

I had ordered custom-cut mats for this series, along with backing boards and cellophane sleeves. With rising disappointment, I went through the images one by one. Was I being too critical? Might the flaws disappear when they were mounted for display? I picked out the best, only seven passed muster, and fitted them in mats. Nope, that wasn’t better. I couldn’t convince myself. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just move on.

the Best of the Failures

What I can sometimes do is use portions of unsuccessful works in new collages. That is not going to work in this case; I’m afraid the uneven, too shiny surface would only get in the way of future success. What I will do is start another series in the same size, so that I can use the same display materials. I’ll choose a sturdier surface, based on my experience. I’ve already ordered a product to replace that shiny varnish. And I’ll count what I’ve learned as the best thing I’ll gain from that whole fiasco!

A Mound of Rejects