Once in awhile I'll make a piece of art that's so revealing of what's going on in the recesses of my soul that I feel over-exposed just working on it. I'm midway through a piece like that now, an assemblage that wants to Tell All. I am trying to be brave, but it's hard. So I've set that work aside for now, in order to show you some other revealing work: three vision boards, or what I call my Hopes and Dreams Collages.
Typically I'll make a collage like this when I'm getting ready to launch into a major project and need a strong visual reference to the Big Picture. I'll get a 20x30" piece of posterboard or foamcore board and a pile of magazines, and I'll go through the magazines tearing out anything that resonates with my Grand Idea. Then I'll cut and paste and make something artfully representative of my Big Idea.
This first board is the one I did when I decided to open my coffeehouse eight years ago.
Having a coffeehouse was a long-held dream, 15 years in the "someday" stage. Once I made up my mind that it was time to do it, I was carried on a wave of high energy and "pinch me" anticipation, and this collage seems to radiates that good vibe. The colors are warm and there are happy people in it, including some kids, though it's hard to see them in this shot. (They're playing on a sofa just left of the blue coffeepot at the bottom of the piece.) The central image -- the yellow coffee cup -- represents me. The words just above the cup say "espresso yourself." This collage helped me to bring a dream to life.
This next board is one I did when I started writing my (as yet unpublished) novel, Rochelle's Garden. The story is a bit of a fantasy tale featuring woodland faeries whose lives get intertwined with the book's protagonist, a woman named Rochelle.
Again, the center image of a chair and writing desk and tall bookcase represents me. The rest of the collage is made up of images that resonated with the theme of the story. After making this collage, I wrote daily until I'd finished the manuscript about five months later. It's been sitting on a shelf ever since, which means I probably need to do a "Publish Your Book" collage or it'll still be there when I'm 64.
Here's the third one. Unlike the other two, this collage wasn't created at the beginning of a project, but rather well after the project -- my erstwhile art gallery -- was up and running.
This collage was a revelation. Six months into the gallery, unsure of how to proceed, I cut and pasted with the idea that I was bringing the gallery into greater focus. What I was really illustrating was my sense of being frazzled and overwhelmed. That's me in the center again, hair gone electric, none too happy -- although I think I could have just as easily used the image of the women in the red dress at the upper left to represent me, because she looks as though she might be drowning, and that's pretty much how I felt.
I closed the gallery a short time after completing this collage. And because of the way I've told the story, you might be thinking I closed it because I heard the message of my soul coming though loud and clear in this bit of art. I wish I could claim such clarity. But in fact, it took a friend to point it out to me, the frazzled girl, the drowning woman. Not to mention the crazy exploding wizard's hat on the right. I just thought I'd made a cool collage.
So here's my point: art is revelation. Art exposes you, no matter what your ostensible intention. Your soul is going to speak through your work whether you hear it or not, whether you like it or not. Scary? Sure. Lots of really worthwhile stuff is scary as hell to actually do. We need to do it anyway. So in an upcoming post, I'll write a little bit about courage, about sticking fear in your pocket and going forward in spite of yourself. And know this: I'm writing as much for me as for you, because I have an assemblage piece on my work table that really wants to get made, if only I'll let it happen.