Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday Collage Blossomed at the Women's Retreat

This is an annual tradition that I have taken to doing for my birthday. You know how you never want to throw away (well, at least I do) those precious birthday cards and personal comments from your friends? To save those, I have been doing a colorful collage from the cards to commemorate their thoughtful endorsements.

This year I'd saved a portion of the page to do my collage during my upcoming "Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat". I knew one of the exercises my brilliant tandem teacher, Jean Warren, was planning, the "Cut-up Memory Walk" would be perfect for my birthday process. So the instructions were to go outside, without notepad or camera, only your senses to focus on the diverse impressions nature offers up. Then, return to the workspace to replicate or comment with collage what you'd experienced outside. When I went outside, I settled upon a tiny plot of land, just down from the cabin and bordered by the parking lot. As I nestled in to observe, first I noticed the deep dark shadows that actually created the visuals of the rocks, then emerged an entire lil' ecosystem. There were ants and beetles busying between rocks and dirt, then, bees all among the blossoming flowers. As I buried my thoughts in this balanced, beautiful interaction, I began thinking of my loving, supportive friends who provide just such a thriving environment for my life. I saw the parallels and metaphors between this tiny Alpine world and my life. Just as I was memorized in deep appreciation and awe, I was brought back to the current moment with an intense aroma . . . our fabulous Chef Izzy Leas, was busy at work in the kitchen simmering a rich curry meal for dinner. My senses were fascinated . . . so this is the scene I took into the studio to depict in collage - from my birthday cards.

Creating items to combine for the collage was first. I began cutting up the cards, words or florals or shapes for shadows etc. I'd collected this delicate grass, with seeds still attached and (from a hike my hubby & puppy had taken for my actual birthday day) brought along the limey-colored moss. I worked up the rocks first with texture, and cut out shadows. Words cut in long, stem-like shapes became the stems for dancing flowers and from fabric I cut out the brilliant sun! It was a delicious frenzy of stuff . . . I'd also picked up this cool piece of bark that looked SO much like a fish - and that sparked the memory of some teeny lil' critters one of the fun participants, Cookie, had offered up to share - and one critter was a tiny fish. Looking thru the critters, I grabbed the fish and spied a moose. Ok, I'll add mountains and the moose too!!! Grief, now how could I add the curry floating thru the air - - ahhhhhhhhhh - - with golden yellow thread threaded thru the air. And - - WELLAH - I think I'm done with my "Cut-up Memory Walk"!

The remainder of my favored birthday card images traveled to the right, creating a segway over into the second page where I'd sketched my vision from an art showing I'd done the evening of my actual birthday day. It's an active, but memory filled page . . . and actually visually pretty satisfying.

Love to hear how you celebrate your birthday in your journal or painting . . .

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