A look back and birthday greetings

As I embark on a couple of new projects, I’ve been looking back at some old completed ones. This is one I’m particularly fond of–it’s called “If your life is a leaf.”

and here are a couple of details:

I had a ball making this one–unlike so many projects, this one came together exactly how I dreamed it would. The dream reference isn’t just figurative–I puzzled this one over and over in my head for weeks, then one night had a dream in which I actually made the piece. It felt like cheating–I woke up knowing just what to do.

I used a lot of different things here, including acrylics, watercolor, Windsor-Newton drawing inks, hand-carved stamps, copper wire, a piece of metallic netting that I found on the ground in my cellar after we had some plumbing work done to this old house, a piece from a map of New York’s Catskills region, and a birthday candle left from what was most likely my 4th or 5th birthday party.

This piece came out of the happy confluence of my having been given an art assignment involving Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, and an art challenge between my sister and me. She makes beautiful things (including marvelous fine beadwork that makes my heart glad and my presbyopic eyes jealous), but I don’t get to see much of it because we live almost 1,000 miles apart. I chose the form (triptych) and she set the theme (journeys) and each of us sent the other a little packet of odds and ends–a dozen pieces of ephemera and found materials–with the understanding that we each had to use at least 3 of the items the other sent in the final project. In my case, I used the coiled copper wire piece, the birthday candle, the little bee at the top left, a bit of the wall from an old troll doll house (that bright green little bit at the lower right of the work as you see it in the first photo) and the blue gemstone over Kwan Yin’s head.

The triptych she sent to me is beautiful, too, a collage of paths and labyrinths and words of great comfort, interspersed with beautiful beadwork (in which–with my reading glasses on–the name of every member of our family can be found, spelled out in nearly microscopic blue beads).

I’d love to do another such challenge again some day, bearing in mind that we missed our self-imposed deadlines on this one several times–it took a lot longer than we’d expected. And I’d love to hear about any art challenges you’ve participated in.

In the meantime, happy birthday today to my artistic little (even though she’s much taller than I am) sister!

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