Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Axis Mundi

For the last few months I've been taking mixed- media courses. Somehow whenever I start to create something I am assailed by a need to control what is happening on my support-- canvas, paper, board. Other students get right into the spirit with a flair for broad strokes, bold colors, and expansive gestures. Their work embodies a free spirit while mine exudes control.

I want to reach that point. I want to dance across the page with a paintbrush dripping with magenta paint. No, the paint color needs to grab attention, shriek and pulse. My muted tones need revving up. I want to splatter the paint, drip it, fling it and work with the lines and starbursts on the paper. I want to reconfigure what has spontaneously been created.

Tomorrow all the participants in my mixed- media class will bring in one work from the past nine weeks and share our discoveries. One student has been busy printing page after page - each plate is inked one color with a loosely placed piece of lace on top. Before being readied for the printing wheel to be turned, the artist has only a vague idea of what will happen beneath the jaws of the press. This spontaneity often causes a wave of anxiety and then a release of sheer euphoria. The resultant print, showing the light and dark depending upon the placement of the lace, is a sensual delight.

There are others, like me, tethered to a tight mode of working. Do they yearn for abandonment?

But we all have our Achilles heel and mine is an inability to be comfortable wielding a paintbrush with my arm swaying to an inner drum beat. I don't own glitter or stamp pads. I have not stained paper with tea bags, nor have I glued down buttons. Yet, what freedom could be won if I allowed myself to be wooed by lovely beads, shimmering colors, and pencils able to create three dimensional effects.

Whether I can grasp those techniques and clasp the brass ring of spontaneity in my next piece is the challenge. I've purchased an ink pad that makes paper look like distressed burlap when lightly applied with a soft cloth. My major purchase has been pens that glitter. Armed with these tools I am ready to pursue the road to the creation of a piece of art that looks like it was fashioned by a rebellious artist chafing at the binds of conformity.


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