Usually I have more ideas than I know what to do with, more ideas than I have time to implement. Lately though (does the last 7 months count as lately??) the urge or drive to create has dropped way off. The ideas are still there, but the impetus is lost. I found myself in a creative slump, feeling insufficient creative energy to make anything, doubting every process and technique. I know most of us find ourselves there at one or another point in our artistic journeys. Knowing this doesn't necessarily shorten the torture, though it is consoling to know one is not alone.
One of the obstacles I set up for myself is that I knew I wanted my piece for this theme to be the second in a series that I've been wanting to pursue for a long time. In fact I had made a few false starts on a second piece any number of times in the last couple of years. Initially I had created a piece for a mixed-media exhibit a few years ago and, when it was done, made a mental note that it was a direction I definitely wanted to follow and develop into a series. Subsequent attempts weren't successful from either a compositional or technical standpoint. I started to think that the first piece I made was destined to be a "one-off". I decided to give it one more go for this theme. Nothing like adding a little pressure to your stress!
|Carmina Figurata - the original piece in this series|
It can be helpful, when encountering a creative block, to go back to a place where you did create something you were happy with and make another in that series. Because I had already attempted this avenue with this series and felt that the results were less than successful, I knew that this strategy wouldn't be as useful as it could be. However! Sometimes forcing and pushing through and around that block is possible with persistence.
All of this is a long way of saying that my piece is complete. I pulled fabric and paper for a color palette to work with (oddly, none of these made it into the final piece).
I returned to my beetles as subjects, gave them a sense of movement by placing in and out of the frame and in different directions, and aged or distressed them with ink and paint. I played with the "empty spaces" or negative space between them and also kept them as stark silhouettes where the positive and negative spaces of their bodies spoke to the theme as well.
Instead of the painted canvas that I used in the first piece, I choose an aged linen on a thick stabilizer as a substrate this time. I machine quilted arced lines into it and then added hand embroidery with a variety of coarse linen threads.
The beetles themselves are sewn onto a piece of Arches watercolor paper that has been heavily embossed with a variety of textures found in my studio. I collaged other embossed papers onto the watercolor paper as well.
The final piece invites the viewer to step closer to see all of the bespoke details. Now I am looking forward to creating more pieces in this series and hope that I have seen the back of this particular creative block!