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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Creative Spirit Blog November 6, 2021: Shake Your Tree

Paper and Palm #2 Assemblage

"There is no 'must' in art, because art is free." Wassily Kandinsky

There are moments in life when you look at something and you really see it; more than as just something that is there. You take notice of the lines, light, shape, and its texture. It says something to you. It is more than the object it is. This morning it was the sunlight on the crook of a tree that took me by surprise and stopped me in my tracks to stare, because it made such a wonderful little composition of light and darks, and interesting lines. A moment in time of awe and beauty!

I found a piece of handmade paper recently I had rolled up, that made me feel that way. Its natural holes, ragged edges, and woven fibers were so intriguing I stated to wondered how it could be used without being torn up, flattened out, and pasted down?

I have had an idea for a while now about this kind of assemblage but was not sure how to execute it. I love making and buy handmade papers. To me they are a natural extension of nature, which motivates my work. I love the texture, the natural coloring, edges, and strings that come along with them. Some come rolled and crumbled, some are stringy with openings and lots of visible fiber, others are heavy like mats especially the ones I make myself.

When I start to feel stale, I make a habit of doing something different. It could be as simple as experimenting with a new product, technique, or color scheme, or as complicated as a new direction or an idea in the back of my brain that I want to explore…a what if moment! This paper became my what if moment!

I also like the fibers that come from trees, especially the palm trees here in FL. It’s the best part of the palm tree, since visually they are not my favorite. I have been using a lot of palm fibers in my collages lately, the shiny outer bark and the fibrous inner bark you can weave into. Of course, you can’t just pick it up and use it. It must be cleaned, dried, and coated with something to preserve it, just like any material you use from nature.

Up until now I have been flattening it out, drying it, and when combining with other natural elements putting several coats of polyurethane over everything to preserve it. After finding that piece of rolled paper I wanted to use it in its natural state; curled, flowing, stringy, and not matted down so it wouldn't lose some of its natural integrity. Then I thought of a shadow box and how I could build things up and be more three dimensional with my work. I had a fun weekend! It was exciting to be doing something just a little different. Same motivation, same materials, just not in the same form.

I don’t know how they will be received by the public. But I committed my myself, like all new things, to do at least 10 before I say it’s not working. Breaking out of our comfort zone is the pathway to growth. Its hard to leave what we know works behind, but it is how we grow and learn. So, I am "shaking my tree" and trying something new.

Have a creative week and stay safe. Carolyn

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