Thursday, December 14, 2006

Realizations & Explorations

My journaling as of late has been wild and adventurous as I seem to have finally realized that I have absolute freedom to explore and play to my heart's content. The only limiting factors are time and energy. For so long, I have been concerned with developing a "signature style." I've been obsessively worried about NOT "looking like someone else" because of course, that would mean that perhaps my journal pages were not an authentic representation of my true self. However, I have learned that what makes the pages unique is the thought process behind page construction. I may be inspired by Lynne Perella's page painting techniques or Teesha Moore's characters but when applied to paper with my own mind, heart, experiences, and observations in play, the pages will naturally "look like me." This is one reason I'm sure that generalized techniques are not copyright-protected. The infinite number of variables in play when each person executes the exact same technique results in an infinite number of outcomes. (Keep in mind that I am only talking about the actual physical, step-by-step process involved in a technique; any specific write-ups and/or images created by the artist as well as any unique applications are most definitely copyright and possibly, trademark-protected.)

Sigh! The entire copyright issue is such a tangled mess. Copyright laws have not been sufficiently updated since the rise of photo maniuplating software, collage's surge in popularity, or the advent of altered art. The grey area of copyright law seems to expand on a daily basis like a deep, thick fog enveloping the coastline. I fret endlessly about respecting copyright and because of this, I have almost completely rejected the use of magazine images in my journals. I have found, however, that this closes the door on a wealth of images that could help me tell my tales. So (especially in journals that are for my eyes only), I am slowly, cautiously incorporating images that speak in unison with my own artistic voice. In conjunction, I am exploring ways to alter said images so that I have made a quality effort to make the images my own.

That said, my "look" is decidedly eclectic in recent weeks as I probe yet another path in my "style quest." I saw this altering idea in Karen Michel's The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery and again in Bernie Berlin's new book, Artist Trading Card Workshop. Essentially, it involves altering magazine images with gesso and a medium of some kind. The concept is to use the magazine image as a "skeleton" for a new image. I used this technique on a large face photo and managed to make it into something more surreal and mysterious (it looks nothing like the original as I really pushed the boundaries of her facial structure given what I had to work with.) The ultimate application of this process is to use it as a comforting springboard into creating completely original figures and faces. (My next installment will delve into my rampant phobia of figure drawing...)

The quote on this page is from a play entitled "Defying Gravity" written by Jane Anderson. This theater piece is about the Challenger shuttle diaster in 1986 and its effect on 6 characters and one passed soul (Monet). I had the pleasure of seeing students from my son's school perform this wonderful work about a week ago and I'm still mopping up the tears...


artsyfran said...

I love your experimentations. I think it's important to just go with the flow and allow the process to happen. I think that all artists are influenced by others. It's how we find what we really want to do. I look forward to seeing what else you have to share! Fran

Holly Stinnett said...

Beautifully written. What a proccess huh? Well, you're doing it and finding out all about yourself along the way. It's a very good thing. Very lovely artwork too. :) Happy holidays!

Karen Campbell said...

What a beautiful and soulful piece!
I pretty much go for eclectic ... I grow restless trying to do any one style over and over ... looks like maybe you are going through your own art metamorphosis too

Kari said...

This discovering ones own signature style is something that worries a lot of us. But do you know, if you showed me work by many artists I would still be able to pick yours out. Although you can't see it, there is a certain "something" that is uniquely Michelle. Our own style may grow and change as our interests do, but you will still manage to put your own stamp on it.

This is a lovely piece of work and the whole theme is very touching. I am stunned that the Challenge disaster was 20 years ago, it feels much more recent than that. I must see if I can read the play, it sounds most interesting.

I must say, I am thoroughly enjoying seeing you ponder over those artistic questions that haunt us all and reading the responses that you get.

Kari x

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