The Collage Artist is In!

Elaine Coombs, "Once in a Song", Acrylic on canvas over panel, 50 x 40 inches, 2011

Elaine Coombs, "Once in a Song", Acrylic on canvas over panel, 50 x 40 inches, 2011

Hello!  It’s been nice to take a break from blogging to concentrate (almost) exclusively on producing works for my upcoming Atrium Gallery show.  Some of my friends thought I was away on vacation, but no such luck!  I was here in my subterranean studio slogging away collaging!

It was exciting, nevertheless, to delve into making journal pages almost every day… to release emotions, past demons, stress and the whispering fragments of stories that have been filling my head for the last six months.  As a bonus, I set and surpassed my goal of creating 25 new pages; a number of which will be in my show. 

Images crossing paths on my table top...

Images crossing paths on my table top...

It was scary starting to journal again every day with no excuses.  I was hoping to be in the most relaxed head space possible to create these pages, however, since April, I’ve been dealing with a record-breaking series of sad news events that have affected me deeply.  In the past, this type of scenario would certainly have paralysed me.  This time, I promised myself and Kevin, no drama!  I wouldn’t let these feelings take over my entire creative head space.  Instead, I would do what I could realistically in the real world to deal with them and also channel these feelings into my work.  So I hurled myself wholeheartedly into production mode.  On days when I was feeling “off”, I worked and worked until I could kick start my sense of creativity… I sifted through magazine fragments on my work tables for hours, and took walks when I felt stuck.  Upon returning from these excursions I almost always saw the fragments anew… come alive… some virtually assembled themselves before my very eyes, while others required a careful tweak or two (or three, or… ) to complete.  To my amazement, following this working rhythm, page after page came together in no time.  As a prelude to the show, every week or so, I’ll be posting brief notes on some of the pages I’ve made.  Today I’ll begin with “The Tree Whisperer” a portrait of my artist/friend Elaine Coombs.

"The Tree Whisperer" collage in progress...

"The Tree Whisperer" collage in progress...

The Tree Whisperer

Last month I was delighted to receive a painting of Elaine’s as a gift.  As well, I had a chance to review her latest series of works from her current solo show: “Blue Skies”; paintings inspired by the trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  The show’s title was plucked straight from an Irving Berlin tune sung by Ella Fitzgerald.  It wasn’t long before “Blue Skies” got under my skin.  Reading Elaine’s artist statement and blog, I found myself fascinated by the way she absorbs her subject matter before painting it.  Having a chance to also admire her work first-hand, I was smitten by the small dots of colour and elegant lines she uses to compose her beautifully textured, light-filled paintings where trees from various forests dance, sway and offer insight.  I love the way Elaine crafts her titles as well – animating her subject matter even further.  Using techniques akin to Post-Impressionist Pointillist painter Georges Seurat and Contemporary Photorealist Chuck Close, through the microcosm of tiny dots of paint, in her own unique way, Elaine makes visible the hidden language of trees.  On display in a variety of public spaces in California, Elaine’s treescapes bring out the sense of beauty and optimism found in nature.  Their grand scale enhances their sense of sacredness giving one a sense of being embraced by the forest or walking through a natural cathedral.  Touched by the thoughtfulness and precision of her paintings, I felt compelled to create a page about my friend, “the tree whisperer”, when a fragment of a tree, an enigmatic woman and window pane crossed paths on my studio table. 

I’ve always been moved by nature, especially trees.  On a trip to Banff, Alberta nearly a decade ago, I found myself soothed and mesmerized by them.  Ever since then I’ve viewed them as spiritual sentinels.  If you feel this same way, I highly recommend you wander through a virtual tour of Elaine’s paintings.

2 comments to The Collage Artist is In!

  • Hi Michelle! Thank you for your kind words about me in this post. I am thrilled that I have inspired one of your collages- I can’t wait to see how “The Tree Whisperer” turns out. It makes me sound quite mysterious…

    • Michelle

      Phew!!! I’m glad you like it so far Elaine. Thanks so much for your comment. Your work is so intriguing, it begs investigation into the artist who created it! :) Michelle

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