Monday, November 16, 2015

What to do when the well runs dry, or how to deal with the blank page...

The well runs dry occasionally for each of us.

This week I’ve commenced working again after a fallow period that followed Open Studios. For whatever reason, I felt no passion for art-making for four long weeks. I got out my sewing machine and made half a dozen new tops, did some mending, read a lot, snacked too much, puttered around the house taking time to put my home back in order. A friend suggested that I needed to reclaim my home after giving it over to so many visitors, but that’s not it. Not at all. A couple of my spiritual gifts are hospitality and encouragement and I got to use those gifts freely during the open days. I absolutely loved that part of it, so much so that I’m now offering classes, some in my home.

Then yesterday I awakened to a desire to move on. I took out a bunch of heavyweight papers to use as substrates for new collages. Some were starts, some were old paintings that didn’t work, and some were virgins… pure white and ready to be sullied with whatever comes.

Having several different pieces going at the same time is nothing new, nor is working in series. That's what I'm doing now.
I laid 22 supports on my work table, got out a huge box of papers and set to work, choosing papers from the compost* in response to what was already on the supports. I set the timer and worked for an hour, pulling papers one by one and choosing additions to the starts according to color and to whim.

This morning I started again, but this time I chose a bit more carefully, adding from another box, thinking about pattern, color combinations, even a bit about content, though that comes much later. I’m still working intuitively.  After about 45 minutes I decided it was time for neutrals, so yet another box came out and for half an hour I added neutrals to each set of papers… browns, creams and beige, black, mixed no-name neutrals of painted papers. And then it was done. 

I ended with 20 sets of papers sitting on their supports, waiting for me to more carefully work them into finished collages. At this point I'll bundle and bag each start and set to work on just a few at once, still working in series and concentrating on a manageable number of individual pieces.  Some won’t make the grade. Most will bear no resemblance to their beginnings. 

Two of the white originals didn’t get going at all and that tells me something about how I work. My natural way to work is to respond to what’s already there. I need a starting point. It isn’t the fear of the white page; it’s simply not knowing what to do with the white paper unless I have a plan. 



Maybe you’ve been there, too. If you’re looking at a white piece of paper or a page in your sketchbook wondering what to do with it.  I have some ideas for you.

Work intuitively and claim the paper.  
·         Choose a piece of paper that you really like and glue it down somewhere on the page.
·         Load a big brush with a beautiful color and swipe it across the paper.
·         With a pen start drawing a convoluted line from one edge of the paper to the opposite edge.
·         Respond to whatever mark you made. Add something else: another paper or color or line.

Make a plan.
·         Sit down with your studio journal/sketchbook and draw. Work from something that’s in front of you or from a photo and make several thumbnail sketches for composition and value. 
·         Fill a page with thumbnail designs based on shape, line, form, pattern, etc..
·         Cut a viewfinder (a square or rectangle cut from the center of a piece of paper) and run it over magazine pages to isolate possible designs. Draw these as thumbnails.

Now get to work.  I’d love to see what you do and have you inspire me with your creations.

*Compost. A box of assorted papers, scraps, trimmings, photos, images that I paw through whenever I need something for a collage. The jumble of color and pattern works together to inspire new combinations.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Collage Adventures Workshops

Collage Adventures Workshops with Jo Reimer

During the Open Studios Tours so many people expressed an interest in collage classes that I've decided to give some time to teaching again. I've been a teacher most of my adult life and I'm excited at the prospect of sharing what I know with others.

I'm offering two workshops that I'm calling BootCamp, a day-long class for beginners to the discipline. December 29 or January 7 are the dates. You'll find a description and registration form by clicking on the Workshop tab at the top of this page.   

I hope to see some of you then. Class size is limited so sign up soon to reserve your place.

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