Monday, January 30, 2012
I just finished Sarah Ahearn Bellemare's Painted Pages, a how-to book that offers a number of tips to jump-start the creative process. I first saw Sarah's collage paintings at a friend's house and later at a local gallery. My daughter was privileged to take a summer art camp class with her as well. The artists's paintings have a distinctive style and palette, incorporating found images and photographs, maps and other ephemera, and text. (See Sarah's Flickr sets for lots of collage inspiration. Her work is also featured in the upcoming Enormous Tiny Art "eleven" show.)
Painted Pages takes the reader into Sarah's studio, where we get an inspiring glimpse into her process. In one chapter, Sarah shows how a visit to a roadside stand inspires a painting. The Polaroid photos she took of the flowers are incorporated into a sketchbook collage, which then becomes the preliminary sketch for a painting.
I love Sarah's idea of approaching each sketchbook page as a mixed-media collage/journal. In Sarah's sketchbook journals, she takes a particular photograph or piece of text and free-associates, adding related colors, words, quick sketches, a complementary palette, and patterns and textures from her impressive collection of ephemera. This form of journaling seems like an effective, free-form (and fun) way to keep track of events big and small and tuck them away for later use.
During a recent journaling session, I tried out a number of her practical suggestions to get some ideas flowing. I cleaned off my work space and used the scraps and clipped magazine pages I found. I put wet media on the right and dry on the left to help me keep my work area clean (a definite problem for me). I wore an apron and kept a wet cloth and dry cloth close at hand to keep the paint and glue off my clothes and my fingers. Less mess makes the creative process more fun for me.
I used many of the techniques from the book, and the collage that emerged is a random collection of images and ideas that have been on my mind lately. It's a sketch, of sorts, of a moment in time. I like the possibility of it as well, that the collage can be a springboard for some future work. Sarah suggested focusing on smaller areas of the collage that resonate in some way, and it's interesting how those little pieces suggest something different when seen in isolation.
I'm jazzed about using a mixed-media sketchbook/journal on a more regular basis. My collages may not become paintings, but I can imagine using this technique to break through writer's block or process some of life's daily stresses.
Have you tried a new-to-you technique that's helped ease you out of a creative rut?
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 4:55 PM