Paper Kids and a Collage House

There were two lessons on Life Book this week.  I must confess that neither lesson grabbed me immediately or felt naturally like “me” and – in a week when I am up to my eyeballs with commitments and have a slammed schedule – I admit that I was tempted to skip the lessons, maybe come back to them at a later date.  However, I am striving to meet all my art deadlines and so far am succeeding (a little high five that was popped into my Jar of Awesome) plus a bit of creative time in a hectic week is a useful balm for stress so I decided to plunge on in and see what came of it.

The first lesson was taken by Jill K Berry and the object was to create my “heart community”.  The lesson was very reminiscent of making paper dolls or chains of people.  The instruction was to make representations of the four people who most influence me, with little doors on each figure, so that they folded up into a concertina book.  With four little figures, I had to make my four boys.  They definitely inspire me every day in many ways so they fitted the brief too.  The blocky shape of the figures that emerged from the cut paper automatically made me think of Lego minifigures.  Perfect!  Three of my kids (and I) are obsessed with Lego so that seemed completely apt.  I used a mixture of painting and collage to construct my little lego sons, doing so in stages over the course of 24 hours, whenever I had free time.  I wrote adjectives that describe each of their personalities inside the doors in each of their torsos and each of those doors has something on the front that represents each of their favourite things.

Week 7 - Heart Community

The second lesson was taken by Violette Clark and the theme was “magical mystery tour”.  The idea was to produce a painting, with collage elements, that depicted a magical, creative, somewhat whimsical house.  That house was supposed to be placed on a painting of the top of a head, as if the house was springing forth from the creative imagination or perhaps even representing the creative mind, but I decided to abandon that element mostly because of time management but also because that aspect did not really speak to me.

I modelled my house on a drawing I did in my art journal last year because I liked the quirky shapes and wonkiness of the building I drew.  I used acrylic paint to create a sunset background because I love the warm colours of a wonderful sunset.  The fluffy cloud shapes were painted with pink pearlescent paint so, although you cannot see it in the photo, the top of each cloud shimmers.  I collaged a green hill to replace where the top of the head should have been.  Then it was just a case of using gelli plate prints to construct the shape of the house.  I was supposed to leave one side of the roof unglued so that little slips of paper could be inserted into it like an envelope but I got carried away and glued it down.  I realised right away so I could have found a way to leave a side open but I decided I was not that keen on the idea of using it as an envelope so I chose to let it be.  I used washi tape to create a front door and roof flashing and used postage stamps for windows.  I stamped the whale on in order to create a weathervane because I really want a whale weathervane in real life and still do not have one – except on my magical house.  The final touch were the little love hearts emerging from the chimney pot.

Week 7 - Magical Cottage

Home is Where the Heart is

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to incorporate a map of “your state or the world” and document something on that map.  Luckily, a few months ago, when doing my usual poking around in thrift stores, I had purchased a world atlas for 50 cents.  I, therefore, actually had the materials I needed.  Furthermore, I immediately had an idea of what I wanted to create, a little flash of an image skimming across my mind’s eye, which was a welcome contrast to the previous few weeks when I have been scratching my head for a bit.  I decided to use the map to document the fact I am “between belonging” right now as an immigrant, ensconced as I am as a resident of America but very much still feeling my Scottishness and connection to my homeland pulling on my heart strings.

I used a template to cut out two birds from two different maps: one of Pennsylvania, with the Philadelphia area being prominent around the bird’s head; and the other of Scotland, though actually it was of most of the British isles since that land mass was small enough in the atlas to fit.  I suppose that is appropriate since I have lived in three different locations in Scotland and have also lived in England for a while.  I chose the bird shape not just because I have become a tad obsessed with birds this past year but also because they represented migration.  I created the background using gelatos.  I have a love-hate relationship with gelatos: I love their creaminess and the rich vibrancy of the pigment but I cannot seem to get them to go onto the paper as smoothly as I have seen on tutorial videos.  Instead they still have a bit of a rough scribbly quality at places in the mark-making and I have to then deploy a faithful baby wipe in order to spread the colour across the page.  I used two shades of blue and a mid-green to represent the ocean between my places and the colours on the globe.  The green was used on a practical level to outline and thus highlight the shapes I was collaging onto the page.  I then added some strips of glittery green washi tape just because it supported the green outlining and because it was glittery.  I cut a love heart out of a map scrap which happened to contain the words “Atlantic Ocean” and then several smaller hearts out of US and UK postage stamps, again suggesting that idea of migration, travel, journey.  I also used two air mail stickers just because they chimed with the theme of the page and also it’s colour scheme.

Visually my page was communicating my sense of “not belonging”, of being between two locales.  I have yet to find my place here in America so I still feel rather discombobulated by how alien things are, by my difference and otherness, by all the little things I do not know, by how unfamiliar things are that I used to take for granted back home in Britain.  However, bizarrely and conversely, I do feel at home here.  I feel settled enough on a domestic, family level now – especially having bought a place to call home – that I do now feel at home here in Pennsylvania.  Ultimately that is because the cliche is a truism: home is where the heart is.  Ultimately I belong wherever my husband and kids are.  That, therefore, became the sentiment that I stamped across my page.

So my DLP art journal page this week is really about the push and pull of where I am at as an immigrant, as a wife and mother, as a Scot living as part of the diaspora in America; my page is about that tension between not belonging yet feeling at home.  Hopefully I have managed to convey that in the visual elements and the words on the page.

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