I have had a heavy, gnarly cold all week. Today I know that I've turned a corner as I found myself creating a new collage. Here it is, the latest in my Stepping Stone collage series. (Click on the image to enlarge)
A reclined buddha dreams of a desert journey. "Like a question mark in the dust, the world's oldest desert asks more than it reveals. Abandon pride, and perhaps shoes, and you may get a few answers. The first lesson Namibia's arid enigma teaches - by way of roiling, broiling, immense oceans of sand - is that you're small. Really small. To soar by plane over the cracked clay pan of Sossuvlei is to embrace both the enormity of southern Africa's sand sea and the certainty that this 55-million-year-old ecosystem will guard its secrets for ages to come. On foot, the scale and silence of this sandscape seem like a sun-stoked fever dream." ~ National Geographic's Traveler Magazine.
As we move across the collage, we come to flamingos taking flight. (source: National Geographic)
A Laurel Burch sun is capped by a couple of architectural illustrations creating an unlikely landscape.
Of all the images that I assembled for this collage, the one that caught my attention is the Angolian giraffe. A search about the symbolic meaning of giraffes led me HERE where I learned to "call upon the giraffe when you are in need of a higher position with which to analyze the foggy terrain of your life. Also call upon the gentle nature of the giraffe to help you with gracefulness in action, patience, and sturdy footing in life's potentially rocky terrain."
My process for collage making is purely intuitive. As I sat down, the word "space" was rolling about. What I desired was to create space for the sake of creating. As I flipped through a pile of magazine clippings I decided to honor my instincts and grab what grabbed my attention.
The finished piece shows clearly how drawn I was to the brown, sandy, desert palette. I started with the central image and from there everything flowed from it. After researching the meanings of the desert and giraffe I can draw some meaning for myself:
What I'm sensing is that the winds have changed, shifting the sands and the ground that I've stood upon for so many years. With this shift my perspective has changed - what I thought I wanted in a career, my blogging and online presence, how I spend my time each day - it is all shifting. With the ground shifting from underneath me, I have felt really small just as the Namibia desert suggests. It is interesting to interpret my collage, to allow the images from my intuitive play to help me find the words to what I've been discerning. It may be time for me to be like the giraffe and to stretch out my neck. My husband has a new schedule this spring. Our hours off together will be few and far between which will create some new space for me to discern. I plan on filling this new found time with meditation, journal keeping, and collage making.
Shortly after finishing my collage I noticed a calendar that my friend had made. Much to my delight (and surprise) a cute giraffe was staring back at me. What do you think she is asking?
All of this talk of giraffes reminds me of my own close encounter with this beautiful species in 2007 when I took my son to San Diego.
That fresh little one was born only a couple of hours prior to taking this shot.
Amazing, isn't it? I can't imagine standing and walking only an hour or two from entering into this world.
I'll close with a look at my Stepping Stone collage series to date. This is a fun journey for me as I have no idea where it will take me. (Click image to enlarge)
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find some time for creative play.
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva
A pile of gnarly branches have been tucked into the corner of our living room for months. I knew my husband's intention - they are an interesting material for Ikebana arrangements. Last weekend I cleaned and decluttered the living room except for this pile of branches. Earlier this morning a gorgeous pink lily opened up and without hesitation, I randomly pulled out a branch and made an arrangement. (Be sure to click the horizontal photos in this blog post to see them enlarged.)
This is the sort of arrangement that arranges itself. There is no need to plan, think, hem and ha. Just follow the lines.
The interesting lines in the branches reach out and the blossom with its stout petals provide an anchor.
Looking down on the arrangement you can see the sweeping line ---- lovely isn't it?
Moving in we get into the thick of the bramble. I could look at this arrangement for hours tracing the various lines and getting lost in the twists and turns.
Stepping back you can see how it looks on my kitchen table.
I pulled out my "Dabbler's Journal" and watercolor paints.
Flowers, arranging flowers, photography, and journaling all bring me creative joy. Oh and I mustn't forget - sharing it here on my blog and on Facebook - yes, creating and connecting - this is what brings me creative joy.
I can't resist moving in on those interesting lines...
and then changing the focus.
It feels so good to be creating again and more regularly. I think I was stuck in a bramble of sorts, but now my creative cycle has shifted and I am experiencing a blossoming period.
The best part of this creative surge is that I've given myself permission to create for the sake of creating. There is no other motivation or intention. I love this sense of creative freedom.
How is your creative cycle these days? Are you stuck in the brambles or are you blossoming?
Here's to honoring what brings us creative joy.
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva and Creative Dabbler
The Ikebana arrangement that I made yesterday puts a HUGE smile on my heart. Although I snapped some photos of it, I thought I would capture the arrangement in my new Dabbler's Journal.
Although part of the arrangement falls off the page, I think I captured enough of it in this quick illustration. My crude little drawing was fun to make. I start with a loose pencil drawing then fill it in with some color.
My favorite part is to go back in with the black pen to draw in the contour lines and add little details.
I'm hoping that if I keep drawing and painting that in time my skills will improve. In the meantime, I'm going to relax and enjoy the process.
What is bringing you creative joy these days?
Kathryn, Collage Diva and Dabbler
This has been the hardest winter! I can hardly believe that a snow storm is on the horizon for later this week. I know everyone in my region is so ready for the Spring weather. Today I decided to bring Spring indoors by creating an Ikebana flower arrangement. (Ikebana is a Japanese style of flower arranging.) It has been nearly a year since I practiced this art form.
Note: For a closer look at these photos, click on them to enlarge.
My husband and I headed over to Trader Joe's in search of flowers. For a grocery store, they have the best selection and incredible prices in our area.
I love all of the colors of the lilies and the texture of the purple flowers. Do you know the name of this plant?
I am amazed by how drastically different the arrangement looks set against a white background versus the black one. I really like them both. The black one looks sophisticated and dramatic. The white one looks bright and cheery.
I felt so awkward as I was arranging the flowers. I'm eager to keep fresh flowers around the house to practice my flower arranging skills.
In the end, I was very pleased with the results. Here is how the arrangement looks on our kitchen table. I love how it pulls out the flowers in the chair covers and in the photos on the wall.
The best way to get a taste of Spring is to gather up some fresh flowers and bring them into the house. You don't need to be an expert in flower arranging to enjoy them!
I started a new journal that I've titled, "A Dabbler's Journal."
The title page was designed layering music paper and a napkin with the pears printed on it. On a spare piece of music paper, I used watercolor paints for the title.
For many months now I've been wanting to get back to art journaling. Reading Susan Branch's book, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside was just the inspiration I needed. Her book is all hand drawn. I love her little watercolor illustrations. Each day at work during my lunch break, I sit in a chair next to my grandmother's little table. I eat and pour over each page in this book. I'm taking my time as I find I love these moments. They help me to get a real break from working on the computer. I've been finishing my break with a cup of tea and some little cookies or bisquits.
I pulled out my Japanese watercolor set that I bought several years ago and had NEVER used. It has been patiently waiting for this moment when I would get inspired. Tucked inside the cute box are a number of colors, a watercolor brush (perfect for traveling) and the best black pen ever! Oh it practically draws itself. (You can find this set HERE from JetPens.)
When I look at other artists who focus on building a body of work, I see myself more as a creative dabbler and I'm more interested in following my whims. Today I may pick up my camera, tomorrow I'll cut and glue magazine images.
A fine way to start a journal is with an invitation to enjoy something to eat and drink, and maybe even make the treat yourself. This Scottish Oat Scone recipe was one my Mom would make on Christmas morning. I tend to have the ingredients on hand and will whip up a batch when I need a homemade treat. (If you want to read the page, click on the photo to enlarge.)
The illustration is of a cute couple who moved in a few weeks ago.
Here is their story.
I have a lot to learn working with watercolors, but I'm finding it so much fun and relaxing.
Thanks for stopping by! I'll be sure to share more pages from my Dabbler's Journal when I have something to share. I hope it inspires you to pull out a journal and get dabbling.
Until next time,
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva
Last Sunday the bluebird skies were calling me out to play. My husband and I decided to hit the road for a little ride. Just before we left I googled, "Best coffee shops in Maine." The search pointed us to Biddeford, Maine and a wonderful cafe called, "Elements."
From their impressive beer selection, I chose the "Mean Old Tom," a stout from the Maine Beer Company. If you like full flavored beer, try it, you'll like this one! As I was setting up this shot I noticed that Jenghix Khan was looking up at me from the collage of old book pages that made up the countertop. I'd say his expression matches the name of the beer, wouldn't you agree?
One of my favorite foods is a plate of meats, cheeses, crackers, etc. The mustard was made locally by a company called Vervacious. It was a delicious garlic, rosemary combo that combined well with the hard salami.
I was showing Fernando the book that I'm reading (more on this in my next blog post) and he opened to this quote from Mark Twain.
Coincidentally Mark Twain was looking up at us when we read his quote. I take it as a sign we were right where we needed to be in that moment. I'm glad I decided to leave the laundry and dust bunnies to head out on this mini adventure.
I finished my visit with a delicious cup of coffee and a biscotti. Did I mention that there was live jazz music? A talented young woman named Hattie Simon delighted us with her take on some jazz standards.
We walked down Main Street with our cameras. I was surprised by the shots that I took with my cell phone. Look at the blue sky!
Although the photos don't stack up to what I can take with my digital SLR, I'd say I captured the day just fine.
As we passed a barber shop we caught our reflection. Can you see us?
Here, let me take you in a bit closer.
While I think we see way too many "artsy" shots of feet on the internet, I couldn't resist this one on the honeycomb patterned street.
The sunny day offered us lots of good shadow shots.
We really have so much fun together.
Sadly, I somehow lost all of Fernando's shots. He had the best photos of the last our outing at Biddeford Pool, Maine where we walked the quiet beach. Pictured above is the only shot that I had taken - one of a couple of shells.
I guess this means we just have to return to the ocean to take some new photos. As my husband likes to say in situations like this, "I'll have to make the sacrifice."
We are always looking for great places that serve delicious coffee and/or beer. What are your favorite haunts in New England?
Kathryn and Fernando Costa
The word "movement" echoed in my head for all the month of February. It was clear this was to be the subject for my second collage in my new stepping stone collage series.
I have the tendency toward not exercising especially when the days are short and the weather is cold, dark, and miserable.
I love New England, but I don't fancy all of the snow. Perhaps if I played in it, I would enjoy it more. But alas, you'll find me hibernating and plumping up.
This newest collage reflects the season and moving toward spring. At the center is a bright spot and what looks like a wave lies a figure with several symbols dancing across the horizon. This collage represents more than a change of seasons and my body's desire for movement - this figure with her arms stretched out is embracing the unknown. Her dance, her enthusiasm, her spirit lights the way.
THE LIMINAL SPACE
It's as if we were caught in a darkened vestibule
between an old way of being and a new...The doors
of the past close behind us. The doors to the future are still unopened.
Too often we forget that only by
enduring our time in the liminal space between those
doors, waiting for an opening, can we eventually move
freely across a threshold into the future.
-Jane R. Pretat
I look to my collage for a clue as to how to endure this liminal space, the darkened vestibule that I find myself in these days.
Staring back at me is a clue that has been whispering in my head all month.
Experience has shown me that the slightest movement can shift circumstances. The slightest movement can shift my perspective.
This last month, I've taken some steps toward changing things in my worklife. I decluttered 9 years of files. I've explored and entertained different employment opportunities. With these simple steps, I'm finding more clarity and gaining more confidence.
I'm still in the liminal space, but it is less foggy and the vestibule is a little less darkened.
As I sit with this collage I realize that, for all our dreams to come true, we can get unstuck by throwing our arms up into the air and dance.
Here's to dancing in the dark!
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva
Last weekend we stopped by the annual NH Orchid Show.
The show draws a number of exhibitors and vendors from all over.
If you have never been to an orchid show, the first thing you'll notice is the HUGE variety. (Be sure to click to enlarge this photo. You'll see so many more varieties!)
You'll see so many different shapes and sizes.
If I saw this plant anywhere else, I would not know it was an orchid.
This beauty is familiar to my region of the US. Lady Slippers can be found in our woods here in New Hampshire.
Some remind me of the corsages my grandmother would wear on Easter Sunday and Mother's Day.
Some sport interesting patterns and colors that may show up in my art journal and collage work.
I'll close this post with a photo of the smallest orchids of them all.
It was a challenge capturing it's details. - the lighting at the show is not ideal for photography. I think you get the idea.
Check out the orchid shows in your area. It is a wonderful treat, especially in the winter months, to escape the bitterness of the cold and warm up with the beauty of the tropics.
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva
My husband is soooo romantic. He dropped off a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a mix of small yellow roses, irises, pink snap dragon, and green hydrangea and a homemade card with the painting you see above.
His note reads, "The 'masterpiece' here was created specially to celebrate this date, inspired on your love for flowers, specially the daisies, which have been present in so many special moments we've been experiencing together." Love, Fernando
My heart is fluttering. I'm all gushy. Wow. I found a romantic guy! I plan on framing this beauty and will likely take it to the office so I can enjoy it every day.
Homemade valentines gifts are the very best for they come from the heart.