When I first read Somerset Studio’s submission call for mixed media projects about anything poppy, it didn’t spark my creative juices. But then something funny happened. A color I had all but dismissed in my in wardrobe choices, in my interior design and in my art projects began calling to me. My first “poppy” sighting was in a Publix parking lot. A wall of poppy-colored flowers stood majestically against a backdrop of swaying sea oats. It was at that moment I had the idea of opening my mind to my intuitive process and to see if I was “lead” to produce “poppy” artwork. When I arrived home, I looked up the word poppy in the dream dictionary and found out it symbolized beauty, magic, consolation, fertility and eternal life. I began to hunt for poppy photographs and combed my scrapbook paper stash for reddish colored papers.
It took a conscious effort not to overthink the creative process. I was determined to be lead more from my gut and less from my mind in creating this series. I began to understand clearly the two ways to make art. One way is to produce a product with the intent to market it and the other is to make art as a process with no attachment to the end product. I realized so much of my life I had made art with the product in mind. Although it has been an exciting and joyous process, I always felt there was so much more art inside that wasn’t making it to the surface.
And so the excavation process attempting to reveal more authentic art continued. I wandered the local fabric store isles looking at bolts of material to see if anything engaged the right side of my brain. I found fabrics with huge red flowers that begged to be transformed into a mixed media project. I combed through all the brightly colored buttons and touched almost every piece of neatly wound trim before I landed in front of the zipper display. There it was…the stirring in my belly that “said” use zippers. I purchased a few zippers and headed home to play in the studio.
I sat on the floor of my studio with six pieces of 11” x 15” birch plywood and all of the items gathered at the store and from my studio. Breathing deep into my belly to center myself and quiet my mind, I began moving pictures and objects around the boards. It felt as though I was putting together a puzzle without knowing what the picture was. And then like a flash of lightening the idea of using zippers on all the pieces with the theme of “opening” entered my mind. The creation of the series took on a life of its own at that moment.
In reflecting upon the difference between the creation of this series and the regular way I worked, I realized several things. First, I went outside my comfort zone by working with a color not normally in my palette. Secondly, I didn’t have an attachment to an outcome. I had the intention of creating something for the poppy series but I did not push the process…I let it unfold. Third, I had no product in mind to sell. I created for the sake of creating; hoping to have something to submit but not wed to the idea. And lastly, I allowed time to leisurely wander the isles of several craft and fabric stores to see what ideas would stir.
The best tool for the excavation process in the quest to create more authentic art was having a topic chosen by someone other than myself. If I continually pick creative topics, I go for what is familiar, and that isn’t where the creative edge resides. As Julia Cameron put it, “An artist paints, dances, draws, writes, designs or acts at the expanding edge of consciousness”. We press into the unknown rather than the known. This makes life lovely and lively.” Got to go…I’m off to find the edge of consciousness!