exploring pattern through floral and positive shapes
This Experimental Night led by Shaqe Kalaj at Art & Ideas Contemporary Gallery in Plymouth, MI was another pretty cool experience for me.
In her note to us, Shaqe said about this class: "This class to me is an experience that focuses on process and opening to new possibilities and ways of thinking and experiencing through our senses. I have many ideas to really bring out the best in you all. So last night I had everyone choose a sheet of newspaper. Then we drew silhouettes of flowers. The big idea behind the class is layering and thinking of this as collage. I like to isolate techniques so that you can think of using it in new ways and in your own work. Sometimes we work in certain habits and I like to open up new possibilities with it."
We started out with a bunch of silhouettes of floral shapes.
Then we chose a newspaper page from a pile that we would be using as the paper to work on.
Next we chose some of the floral images and drew our interpretations of them by hand -- just concentrating on the overall shape of the image.
Then we started to paint over the drawings...layering color over the words in the newsprint and building up the colors of the flowers.
While we were all working, Shaqe talked to us individually about our styles and what else we could bring to the piece to make it our own.
Shaqe suggested (strongly...LOL) to me that I could add one of my newly-discovered creatures. The page could be turned in any direction, etc.
If you know me, you know I choked...I didn't have my sketch book or tracing paper. Yikes...I was going to have to use the technique we were working with and add in a creature I made in my head on the spot by making a silhouette of the shape of the creature and then layering on the features.
Basically, I was not in the head space to "argue" with Shaqe or put up much resistance, so I complied and gave it a shot. And I am really glad that I did!
I started making a shape with a dark blue paint. I was trying to see it completed, and then work backwards. I over-think things too much. When I gave in to the process and just allowed the shape to happen it started to feel better. When I wasn't trying to force a finished product I was able to just allow the thing to make itself...adding triangles of color, a tail, tummy, and ears. I kept adding to the bottom of its legs. I dipped the brush into some really thick paint and dabbed it onto the creature and the brush made little dots that were really cool...it happened accidentally and I really liked it.
I like those dots a lot.
I am in no way trying to suggest that this is a masterpiece or that it is in any way even close to Lynda Barry's work...but when I was painting in my creature it was reminding me of something. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it was something familiar.
When I got home it hit me...I looked straight through the kitchen to the Lynda Barry "Bird" that was given to me by Francine Rossi. And it is funny, I was looking at this piece several days ago when I was looking at some of my collection in that area of my house.
I LOVE this piece so much.
It is such a joyous, happy, FUN piece of art! And I love crows so much...and a crow with a crown, bonus!
"Bird" is painted on a page from a book that was turned upside down.
I love the layering and that you can see the words through the paint.
I love everything about this wonderful work by Lynda Barry.
Find out more about Lynda Barry in this article from the New York Times. Watch the slide show -- it is really great.
I have one of Lynda Barry's workbooks, too...I need to pull it out and maybe combine the in person experience from Shaqe Kalaj's Experimental Night with Lynda Barry's teaching methods and see what happens!