But is it Art?

Like half the women in the US, I have taken up coloring.  Coloring, the simple act of filling in spaces in various designs with the colors of one’s choice, using markers or colored pencils, is now being marketed as the way to relieve stress, increase ‘mindfulness’, and otherwise help make one’s life wonderful. Or at least brightly colored.  And I discovered I LOVED it.  I chose a book of designs, “Mandalas and More”, by artist Valentina Harper,2016-04-14 10.47.00

bought a package of 30 fine-point markers, and began to fill in the little spaces with color.  Each design took hours, but I was entranced.

While I was exploring the wonderful world of color in my coloring book, I was also looking around at the art hanging in our home, and realized that several areas could do with an infusion of color.

 

Initially, I thought I would simply go shopping, looking for some brightly colored paintings to brighten up the areas I thought were a bit drab. And then I was struck by an idea. What if I created an artwork with my colorings?

The first thing I thought I should do was put the colorings on a stiffer backing. I thought that just taping the pages to the wall would be a bit tacky.  So, after some trial and error, I decided to back them with layers of black sketch paper. Elmer’s Glue had too high a moisture content and caused the color to leach out, so I went with wood glue. Using a foam applicator to get an even coating, I brushed the glue on, pressed the papers together (colorings + 2 layers of sketch paper), and put them to dry under heavy books to minimize warping.  Then, I got out my exacto knives, and began cutting away what was uncolored.  Removing all the negative spaces, leaving only the colorings, gave them a more three-dimensional quality that I really liked.  The final step was to give the colorings a protective coating.  I used a water-based resin, BioShield Aqua Resin Stain Finish. An unexpected side effect of using this was a slight blurring of the colors, giving the pieces a water color effect that I thought was quite lovely. As long as I worked quickly, and didn’t overwork the application, there was minimal muddying.

Now, I have to accumulate enough for a grouping of pieces to create my own indoor garden, complete with fantastical birds and beasts.

I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to mount each individual piece.  I may just use glue dots to attach them directly to the wall.  But I am truly pleased with my first foray into making my own art.  It is not art for the ages, it is simply art for me, but it is wonderful to discover this joy, in both process and outcome. So I say to you, go on, color something. Brighten up your life.2016-04-14 11.08.47

 

Talk Amongst My Stuff

I think my things talk to each other.  This belief probably comes from the fact that I live with furniture, art, and other items that once belonged to family.  My grandparents (both sides), Roger’s grandparents, and two of my great aunts made notable contributions to our collection of home furnishings.  So, when I arrange (and re-arrange), and combine the older furnishings with things Roger and I have acquired over the years, I imagine that conversations are occurring. Sometimes, I feel like I should be making an introduction, as when I placed these two chairs together.20160309_120350

The red club chair belonged to my mother’s mother, Sylvia, whom I called Nana. It was in the living room of her house in Bethel.  The dark green wing chair belonged to Roger’s mother, Lillian. I think they would have enjoyed having a nice chat.  The upholstery choices are mine, though. The club chair was formerly covered in cracked (and not in an attractive way) red leather. I kept the color, but the fabric is silk. The green textured silk on the wing chair replaced  an itchy gold brocade. Both the side table, and the wing chair’s wooden arms and legs were my refinishing work.

In my study, I reunited Sylvia with her sister, Anne, by placing this Victorian platform rocker, which was in her bedroom, next to Anne’s Danish modern sofa bed. This piece I had re-upholstered in another green silk, this one very smooth and sleek.  Apparently, everyone of my grandparents’ generation favored itchy upholstery.20160309_113022.jpg

The rocker (in the foreground above) is a piece I both restored the finish to, and re-upholstered, replacing the ancient cloth upholstery with dark brown leather & copper accent tacks.

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Behind the rocker is a mahogany desk that belonged to my father, and before that, his mother. This is a piece I repaired and refinished, using a red stain to enhance the mahogany.

I also decided that the room need a punch of color, and this vivid, gloriously loud, tropical green was what I chose for one wall.  I found myself smiling as I applied it,  just happy to be next to it.  I like how the greens of the couch and the wall talk to each other as well.  I made the long, purple silk pillows from an old pair of evening pants. The fabric was too gorgeous to throw out. And I hadn’t worn ‘Hammer’ pants in some years.

Over the desk, I placed a favorite picture of my grandmother, Evelyn, as a child, with her sister, Alice, who was a also a large part of my life growing up. I like to think they’re admiring the ironwork on the New Orleans balcony next to them, an original photo by Johnny Donnell.20160309_113829

And finally, over my computer desk, I’ve hung a framed Guatemalan textile, depicting a religious animal sacrifice, opposite a carved wooden totem by a Kansas artist.  My girlfriend Terri gave me the cloth, and the carving is a souvenir of our most recent cross-country drive.  I’m not sure I wish to speculate as to the content of this conversation, but I bet it would be interesting. And possibly terrifying.20160309_102345

I look around my rooms, and I can almost hear voices.  And they are having fascinating conversations.