Monday, January 19, 2009

Back Where I Started From

When I was a little girl I enjoyed working at my workspace in our basement trying out different things experimenting with broken egg shells, cancelled stamps my Dad gave me, and any other odds and ends I could get my hands on. As the years passed I drifted away from my arts and crafts childhood and more and more into the world of business. Now,50 years later, I feel like I have come full swing again and am getting back into my first love, collage, taking ordinary and not so ordinary things and creating art. Collage has always been my constant companion whether I’m working with paper, fabric, found items, or fibers. Even when I think about working with people it’s always with the idea of showing them how to take simple things and make them into something beautiful. Isn’t that what our Creator does with us? He takes the broken pieces of our lives, mixes in those of others, adds some color, spices, or laughter and makes beautiful stories, beautiful lives.

My Dad received lots of mail from all over at his job and would bring the stamps home for me. I never realized that my Dad started me on the habit of collecting and reusing items that most would just throw in the garbage. My family would say that my habit has become uncontrollable as I have a hard time tossing out any thing, you just never know when it might be just the finishing touch for a project. Dad even saved all of my grade school report cards and gave them to me before he died. Now my mind is thinking about what treasures those are. Not the computer generated reports we get today but handwritten notes from my teachers. And then of course they all have my Dad’s signature on them too. Treasures indeed!

I truly believe that if we can capture the essence of who we are and what we want to be when we are children and build on that, we will be less likely to drift and stray into other areas. I think I lost a sense of who I am and who I wanted to be along the way. I dabbled a little in the realm of sewing and embroidery but never to the extent that I was consumed by it, as I was when I was a child. I recaptured some of that when I started taking fashion design classes as an adult but by then the business world was such a part of me that I had a hard time seeing my way back to my passion. Occasionally something would come along, like a quilt for someone special, or a chance to make the costumes for our church drama team, or a newsletter for our fashion club, that would pull me back to that early path. But the weeds had grown, and life had left little room for my art. Even when I finally had the opportunity to go back to college and take art and graphic design classes, I never fully found that path again. Funny too, because my instructors all encouraged me to try. One assignment given us was to make a stamp depicting the theme Go Forth and Create. I struggled with it, couldn’t really draw, wasn’t comfortable with the computer, I didn’t have a clue what to do. My instructor saw the struggle and I’m sure wasn’t expecting too much from me. But shortly before the assignment was due I had an “aha!” moment. I considered what I loved to do as a child; I would do a collage. The ideas began to flow and before I knew it I had done something that surprised me and my teacher. I wound up with a 10+ for that assignment and words from the instructor to follow my heart and do collage. Collage was just starting to become popular in the design and advertising world. Now 15 years later I look at all the wonderful collage work being done and wonder “What was I thinking?” And so I pick up the tools again, I work at it daily, slowly regaining what I had, adding to it new dimensions, trying once again to overcome my fear “Is it good enough?” “Will anyone like it?” “Have I waited to long?”