Have you ever wondered how an
artist comes up with a body of work, spending day after day in the studio?
Do they get an idea, explore it through sketches and small images,
and finally produced a fully realized work of art?
Or is it a matter of waiting for inspiration to spring fully formed
from the mind and travel directly to the hand? It’s a fascinating thing
watching an artist at work...and the approach is surely as diverse as are
the artists themselves.
I am going to invite you into
my studio to see how I do it. I
am working in the medium of assemblage at the moment.
To say that is to necessarily reveal that I am a pack rat.
In order to have a maximum choice of elements, I like to have small
hoards of found objects, dollar store treasures and plain junk at hand.
This is my palette so to speak. Furthermore, I like to have this
stuff all around me , in full view and in various stages of construction.
I suppose this would be the equivalent of preparatory sketches for
a painter, and in the same way, represent snippets of ideas or the shadows
of themes. Janet Hofacker, in The Muse's last issue, celebrated the act of
collecting all this good material. Scouring flea markets or scrounging
from benevolent business people does confer a history onto each item
collected. That history seems
to prevail when it comes time to make use of a given item.
Off-cuts of copper roofing when beaten and embossed can indeed
become a “roof” for an assemblage box.
An old pocket watch can be slipped into a wooden “pocket” in
its new life. Still, single elements do not a work of art make. So I have
many things on the go at the same time...slowly adding, replacing,
embellishing, deleting items as I make them until a theme or narrative
seems to be taking shape. It is fair to say that the completion of a piece
takes place much faster than its inception!
So what do you do when you are
stumped for an idea? Well,
I fixate on a method or technique to get me over these humps.
I might gold- or silver-leaf everything in sight for a while.
Or put tissue paper laminate on the inside of cigar boxes....or
coil wire into shapes and hammer them flat (a great way to reduce stress
by the way!). I find this to
be a very useful way to mark the time and in the end, I have more grist
for the mill to make more images. The
important thing for me is to keep going to the studio each day and to
In this way I can accumulate a
substantial body of work over the months.
It also ensures that there is always something in progress to carry
on with each morning. What a great job!
Pie Plate Lady
Workbench, March 2001
Copper Lady in Boat