making buttons. again.
relentless love is required

collaging with Kelly Kilmer

Election night. Eek. Are you freaking out? The rest of the family is working the polls so I was left today to tend shop and commiserate with anyone who comes in and try to put on a cheerful face. But that's probably better than staying at home fretting. I certainly will be spending a lot of time getting consolation from Pantsuit Nation. Except the one drawback is that now I feel even more pressure now that I've read so many stories of all the different people around this country who are voting for Hillary and whose well-being depends on the outcome. We're not just talking sanity and ability to hold one's head up in the world, I mean whether or not they get to stay a family, whether or not their child gets health care. As I was saying, eek.

But probably enough has been said on the matter. I mean, I could have said more but I had this entire post written at 2 pm and when I went to hit save, the internet hung up on me and I lost it all. So, rewriting now in the evening, trying not to obsess about the early results coming in. Because what I really wanted to talk about was what motivates me as a citizen of this country and as a child of a creating God. At its core, really, is my belief that we are all children of a creating God, that we are all created in God's image and that we are precious and beloved and valued. That we all have amazing things to contribute to the world and that the world is better for all of us being in it, following our hearts and creating. And even if there is no external divine being, there is still the uniqueness that is each of us, and the constant creation and change from the moment we take a breath (and create carbon dioxide) to the moments we pick up whatever it is that we choose to do and make with our hands. For some, that is creating a home, for others that is gardens, meals, financial success for their clients, avenues for their students to grow and learn. Not to mention the knitting, crochet, the origami, paper collage, painting... I am thankful for all the creative endeavors!

Most recently, I am thankful for the opportunity that I finally gave myself to take a workshop, well, workshops (three days, four workshops) from Kelly Kilmer. Her workshops have long been on my bucket list mostly for the combination of image and text and paint that feels like it is right up my alley. I notice a lot of people painting nowadays and, frankly, I am really good at painting backgrounds but that is about it. What I've really wanted to do is create some collages with my own photographs and to work more on integrating collage images onto a page. Boy, did I get to work on that! I don't think I've had three solid days for such work in a long time - it was inspiring but also a little exhausting. I'll have to build up my stamina.

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So the first thing I should say about a Kelly Kilmer workshop is that she is not kidding when she says she doesn't pack light. Holy cow. I spent several weeks before the workshop, fretting over what to pack in my suitcase, dealing with insecurity over lack of an art journal, and so on and so forth. In the end, Kelly reassured me enough though I think next time I will just try to bring some collage image and leave the rest at home. Airport security took my deckle-edge ruler! Sad! At least they let me keep my bone folder. But, seriously, Kelly had zillions of stencils, markers, washi tape, collage images, stamps, you name it. I felt very spoiled. I didn't even need to bring an art journal to work in as we ended up making three! yes, three! books to work in.

 

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Here are a few progressions of pages from early stages to more or less done. I realize that many people might have stopped earlier and that there is something to be said for white space, but I am pretty much incapable of leaving it. I really wanted to focus on everything that Kelly was teaching us but I'm also looking forward to melding this with some of the other techniques I have learned over the years from other instructors. I'm particularly thinking of random marks making with sumi ink. Something to explore. Also, I was trying not to think too much and just focus on being present and in the process, but I am hoping eventually that some Madison related collages will come out of this. With that in mind, I tried to put a Madison photo in every single collage. But sometimes it didn't make it through to the end. I decided to let that part go and not be so focused on creating product for the store, which is certainly so much of my focus otherwise.

 

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I really liked this guy and the collage as it started to shape up. Sometimes we had a journal prompt to think about from the very beginning of the page but in this case, Kelly gave us the journal prompt towards the end. It was something like "what are you sorry about?"  Well, this guy didn't really look like he was sorry about anything so my text was pretty unapologetic. 

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Here's the start of another collage. I found it really interesting to play back and forth with focal and background images. I think my collages are so typically either flat (no difference between focal and background) or background with a single foreground. In this case, we ended up putting some focal images down early - what with paint and more collage and stencil, sometimes new focal points emerged or focal points ended up more integrated with backdrops.

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Another picture from early in the process compared to the end. Oh my goodness, I love using stencils.

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Here's a mostly finished page: my parents and my sister on the left, me on the right: 

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and another mostly finished, with my mom's adopted parents on the right: 

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and one more from the beginning:

 

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These are the pages that are still works in progress. On the right-hand side, a two-page spread that started with a journal prompt about serenity. That might be what I go home and work on for the rest of the night.  

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And the journal we created on the third day with various painting techniques, and stencils of course.  

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 and a two-page spread from the painted journal. Not quite sure where this collage is going. It still needs work.

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So, there you go: three wonderful days with an awesome teacher in an inspiring studio in California. I have plans to finish the pages in the three books that we created, plus an idea about a deck of cards with collaged images... Not to mention the Madison/Wisconsin projects I hope to work on. I should really schedule some time for myself. 

So, deep breath. Long night ahead of us. I hope after all of this is said and done we can still focus on the gifts that each one of us can bring to the world and our gratitude for what others bring to us and what their creative energy does in our world.

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