Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creating Hope

Time for a peak into the making of my newest bit of mixed media artwork, "Angel of Hope."
Laurie Sikorowski

I have been wanting to play with something more 3 dimensional than a typical painting but not an actual assemblage or sculpture so first I doodled around in one of my sketchbooks (after a nice bubble bath which almost always gets me dreaming of some new something) and I came up with a shadowbox sort of idea. I browsed my scrap pile for some possible pieces to use as my base. My sketches -really rough, more like thought nudges, were more square or horizontal in format but all I could find that might work was the lid of a shoe box, a narrow sandal type box. Luckily I had some scrap cardboard left over from cutting out sheets to use as mailing backer boards. Putting the box over the board added a little detail and  jazzed up the proportions. I also grabbed a piece of chip board, you know the kind that comes at the back of a ledger pad to use for my cut out elements.

Next i started my angel. I did a loose sketch, really just the face as I knew I wanted the body to be a simple shape. I painted her with acrylics and watercolor crayons, then cut out her out and headed to my paper piles and baskets of odd bits to see what I could find. By now I knew my color scheme was going to be predominately green and gold so anything that might go in that direction was tossed on to the floor next to me.

I laid my angel aside, went back to my background and began using matt medium to collage on torn pieces of a paper towel saturated with green paints, magazine photos of a garden, and some old scrapbook paper left overs. I intentionally keep it messy with a few crinkles to catch a later layer of paint. 
I have a great collection of well, I guess most people would call it trash. I can't bear to throw away even the tiniest of paper so as I cut papers for one project, its scraps become part of the next ... and so on and so. Its kind of cool, each piece of new art has a bit of old art in it and its left overs become part of the next. I peel a bit of the top layer of some of the cardboard and add an old sheet of music (It came upon a midnight clear) to completely cover the substrate. Then I start to smear on some blue with fluid acrylic and watercolor crayons. Then back on my angel.

I lay her in the box to see how she fits and then look through the pile to my side and start trying different pieces to see how I want to continue. I tend to just pick up the first piece I see then move it around till it finds a home. I cut and tear the scraps to layer up the angel's dress. It includes some neat wrapping paper my daughter used at Christmas, part of a print that the ink ran out in the middle of, and a piece of vintage lace given to me by a friend. Next I add bits of cardboard to the back of my angel so she will hover off the background.
I slip her into the background for another check. I initially cut up a heart shaped gold doily for the wings but now I think the piece needs more color to tie to the color in the dress so I trim them down and add a bottom layer of red polka dots. I also cut some green wood grained lower wings (yes, scrap from another project) and serendipitously a few green feathers fall out of a basket as I pull out some copper wire for her halo. Its fate, I simply must slip then in as well.process of creating art

Back into the background she goes. Now I wonder, should I go in a different direction? I tear some printed paper and see how she'd do as a garden fairy. I add some of the red polka dot flowers to the frame. I also try some stars and a butterfly. Hum... Nice but I think she'll stay my angel of hope but I do see another piece developing in my head. I take off the hair and some of the polka dots (they weren't glue on so its easy, I'm constantly editing and changing things and sometime put off gluing something way too long -just in case, you know) I do keep the heart charm and a pair of flowers at the frame top. Finally I commit and glue it all together and then add a final bit of grunge over the whole thing with charcoal and fluid acrylics.

Just about done. I'm torn -do I want to attach the art on a canvas at a diagonal. I have a partially completed background on an appropriately sized canvas so I add a few scraps of the red polka dot paper and more red paints to it and see how it works. I like it but it gets a little too matchy cute which is fine but not where I was wanting it to go in my head.
So I sleep on it and this morning, I know what I want to do. I decide I'll use the red canvas for my next project.  It turned out nice so it'll make a great background. But for this one, I gather some twigs then wrap some of the copper wire and rustic ribbon around them for a hanger. I also find a little silver butterfly charm and add it to the twigs. Voila! Finished -unless I change my mind again. Hope you enjoyed this little peak in to my process :)

Mixed Media Angel

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creativity takes Courage ... and Effort.

Good morning blogosphere!

Henry Matisse said, “The artist begins with a vision - a creative operation requiring an effort.  Creativity takes courage.”  I agree creativity does take courage... and effort.  Certain people seem to naturally be more creative. I think sometimes it is just that different folks express their creativity differently.

My mom for instance, she is a born decorator and hostess. She is always saying how unartistic she is, but really it is just for her creativity expresses itself more with pillows and plates and paints. My dad on the other hand, could jerry-rig anything. His creativity generally was of the MacGuyver variety. Although he did machine embroidery a little wash cloth for me when I was born -cool, huh?

I think People are born with natural inclinations. I have two amazing daughters. They couldn’t be more different. They have always had their very own style. Ever since they were quite young I could tell whose art was whose. And really it is opposite of what you would expect.  One daughter tends to have a more openly expressive personality.  Her art was always simple, clean, each line intentional and pure.  My other daughter has a slightly more cautious personality.  Yet her art leans to the exuberant and vibrates with energy. No coloring inside the lines for her.  More is more is more -especially when she was younger. Both are fabulously creative.

In fact sometimes I wish I was as secure in my style as they seem to be.  It really shows up in how they put together outfits. They dress as themselves. I flounder in every direction -clothes and art. I want to try everything. Somehow wanting it to all to come together cohesively. To make sense and be "me". One of my brothers once called me a seeker. I think it is a good description.

In art, Mixed Media seems to personify this seeking mentality. There is such a freedom to this genre. I remember when I first picked up a Somerset Studio magazine; I felt a connection to each artist represented in it. There was something intrinsic to the artwork shown inside that touch my heart deeply.

I'd dabbled in oils when I was quite young and watercolors more recently. I adored children's picturebook illustrations, especially the old ones. I had collected some amazing whimsical artwork, mostly through local arts and craft shows. But this marvelous mixture of paints, pastels, and collage..... Wow!  I felt I could do this.  It felt real. This is what I was meant to do. It encouraged experimentation and play. Hallelujah, this is "me".

Then a year or so later I was doodling with my girly drawings and I happened to google "big eyed girl". My Mam-maw had the iconic low-brow ballerina and harlequin boy on the walls of her guest bedroom and I wanted to see if they looked as I remembered. I was wanting to stylize my girls more as they tended to be more realistic than what I usually draw now. 

Well, I found more than the two pictures I was looking for; I found the Willowing ning site and I was astounded.  There were all these other people who were drawing girls and adding words in the same vein I was and I didn't even know they existed. I'd never seen artwork like this. How could others be going in the same direction as I? I learned of Artist Trading Cards and began to swap a little. It was such a positive and encourage tribe. I felt like I could belong in this group of like minded ladies. My art wasn't so strange after all. Even the simple and "cute" had value. I haven't looked back and can't wait to see where it eventually leads!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Its about TIME

Well little word you’ve finally manifested yourself and quite frankly its about time.  I mean that literarily.  My word for 2014 is TIME.

Maybe it is partly because I am approaching the mid-century mark of my life that I have an acute awareness of time as our most precious gift.  We will go to almost any extreme to have more time yet we often live day to day with so much of our time frittered away without thought.  Shouldn’t we live each moment fully, purposely, passionately, not drifting aimlessly? The answer is Yes. A profound Yes! 
At the end of my life, I don’t want to regret what I haven’t tried. Goals must be set but not so rigidly that spontaneity is squelched.  Plans must be followed but not to the expense of being fully engaged in the here and now.  Creativity only happens when you are available and ready for it.  It takes managing time so that it has its place while the other important pieces of life don’t become neglected, especially the relational ones which rightly need to come first.
Since words are such powerful things, I want my word for 2014 to be something meaningful and personal with the ability for me to use it as a catapult in my art as well as a focus for my life.
Here is a sort of three part summary of how I want a contemplation of time to affect my life. First is in focusing my thoughts and actions more clearly in an intentional pursuit of God’s will for my life and of what I want from my time here on earth (which of course I desperately need to define) For this  I need an active forward direction as I have a tendency to not want to rock the boat and let life and circumstance flow without thoughtful purpose or when the goal is clear, not putting the proper actions consistently in place to realize my desire effectively.  Next, I want to balance my time better between all aspects of my life (work, rest, play, art, family, friends, physical healthiness, spiritual growth, and completing the last bits of work to my house) Finally, I want to spend each moment of time content with a grateful and generous spirit.
For this post, I’ve included my painting entitled “Tempus Fugit”  as an arty to start this year's long journey into TIME.

"Tempus Fugit"  -Borrowed from Latin, written by the Roman poet Virgil - "fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus" Literally the quote means “but it flees meanwhile: irretrievable time flees” and has the more common but less literal translation of  "while, the irreplaceable time escapes".  We often shorten it to "Time flies." But doesn't the Latin seem more appropriate? 

This is my largest and most ambitious canvas yet (48" x 60") I am barely taller than it, although thankfully not quite as wide.  I created it first by collaging old journal pages on to the canvas then texturing it with a combination of modeling paste and paints.  I then began painting both directly to the canvas and also on separate papers that I collaged on at various stages of the process.  The base of the body is a photo of old plywood from an abandoned church that I took during a drive back from a job meeting in Mobile.  The base of the branches and some of the leaves are printed from an old Polish prayer book that my husband's father brought over when he snuck out during the communist regime.  Sheet music is also collaged into the art.  I wanted the viewer to read a lot of meanings into this painting and for everyone who sees it to interpret it a little differently.

Now, back to the topic of Words.  Have you selected your word yet? Are you ready to claim your word?  Stay open to possibilities.  Sometimes a word just pops in to your head unbidden.  It may not make sense initially but give it time (there’s my word again) Mull it over, see if it connects to your heart.  Often our heart speaks to us in subtle and quiet ways.  It knows what is not yet in our consciousness. Be still; Listen.  You may just discover your word has found you.
Cat’s in the Cradle” happened to come on the radio as I was typing up this post -so appropriate! Enjoy.
"Time is an illusion."
~Albert Einstein

Saturday, January 4, 2014

AHA: Fifty by Fifty


I decided on the way I will meet my goal of 50 x 50 -which is to do fifty similarly sized pieces of art by the time I am fifty years old with a portion of the profits going to charity. My grand concepts are just not feasible in the time left before my birthday (about 6 or so weeks) but I do have a good start on the amount of Literary Ladies I would need to complete in order to meet the goal and I love creating them. Also I think seeing 50 all together could be really cool. You know how when you people watch and are amazed at the variety -so many sizes, colors, and shapes. Quite exciting!

I just need a little more diversity in my sacrificial paperbacks so it calls for a quick trip to Goodwill. Pete and I picked up my Dad this afternoon so he could come along for the ride. Goodwill is my father's favorite store and since he has been so sick other than going to doctor's visits and two outings to the big pier, Dad pretty much hasn't gotten out of the house in months. This made a nice change of scenery for him.

I was hoping to find something by Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or Henry David Thoreau but that was a long shot and didn't pan out so instead I got the Secret Garden and Pride and Prejudice. Two of my favorites. If only I hadn't sold most of my old paperback classics in a yard sale several years ago (for a quarter no less) but alas if I kept everything I might one day want, it wouldn't take long and I'd be a certified hoarder. If I'm not using it now then I should give it away so someone else who can. Besides between thrift stores and Amazon, it is often less expensive to purchase something when you actually need it than to store it. (Of course there is an exceptions for anything holding special memories or that I am certain I will need within the immediate future)

Sharing a few selfies with my ladies. The top pic shows the two I did today with my new paperbacks!

What Word Will It Be?

Hello 2014!  I am trying out words to see which will be my inspiration for you. I have a gut feeling that you are going to be very special. I was rather happy to see 2013 pass along. A rather difficult season but yeah for new beginnings. 

Blue AngelI've selected an annual word for several years now. The first year I did this was with the word "Rebloom" and it remains a very special word for me. In fact, it is what I called my very first blog post. The next year I claimed "Flourish" and last year it was "Create." I let the word come to me although sometimes it does need a little teasing to make itself known.

I like the idea of a word for the year because it provides structure and can help you make decisions about the actions you will take during that year -Are you moving towards or way from your intentions? And one word sure is easier to remember than tons of New Year resolutions. I can stay focused on my word all year long but resolutions -goodness I rarely make it to February. (Not that I don't still have a few, unfortunately they tend to be the same year after year because I can't quite make them stick)

There seems to be about three themes that most fall into this year but a single vision hasn't jumped out yet. I am trying to be patient and not just grab one but rather carefully and prayerfully consider each individually. I do have a notion of possibly having a sub-category of a unique word for each month as well as for the year. I have done this with virtues before and it was helpful as it kept me more mindful during the month and hopefully did produce some lasting changes. 

Well now without further ado, here is my list of contenders for this year. 

Forward, Patience, Thrive, Assert, Gratitude, Do, Complete, Open, Fulfill, Brave, Respect, Balance, Offense, Resolve, Center, Celebrate, Focus, Accomplish, Engage, Actualize, Transform, Realize, Intention, Confidence, Joy, Share, Peace, Perseverance, Contentment, Possibility, Empower, Inspire, Catapult, Relationship, Bold, Seek, Find, Shine, Prosper, Intent, Focus, Gumption, Persist, Engage, Community, Vision, Progress