Friday, March 20, 2009

Passion for Possibilities

Today's guest blogger lives in an enchanted neighborhood full of azaleas, camellias, and purring, happy cats. She knows the secrets the moon whispers and carries magic with her wherever she goes. If you listen to her, you'll remember the magic, as well. Please welcome Debi of Emmatree. ~ Relyn

There are rolls of paper stacked here behind me - cream colored paper embossed with white shooting stars, ivory tissue paper that shimmers like pearls underwater. Metallic golden polka dots on pale, pale taupe. Paper with silver squares that rub off on my hand when I touch it, leaving my fingers the color of an Indian goddess. A pale blue paper - silk, almost not there. Paper I am afraid to use because it is no longer made. Gold & silver ginkgoes on ecru. A paper that reminds me of giraffes, another that carries herd of elephants across the page. White silk paper with silver glitter. Will this one be the sky in a new painting? And these tiny embedded flowers - should I use them separately or splurge and cover the entire canvas? The entire page? Will this damask white become a book's cover or should I choose another?

I use them in paintings, in books, in collages. The color actually matters little because I will paint over them. But, I have a weakness for wedding colors, metallic embellishments, embroidery. I am constantly surprised by the reaction of a paper to gesso or paint, constantly made happy by details which emerge, which engage me in a new conversation. Leading the painting in a direction I hadn't planned or foreseen. I build textures with newsprint and other less expensive papers, adding paint as I go. More gel, prettier paper, paint. More pretty paper. More paint. Sometimes the paper is left to show through. Sometimes not. I save every little torn off smidgen, every extra corner. They are perfect for small areas, for last-minute details - a metallic polka dot becomes a star in the sky, the eye of a bird, the center of a flower. Wondrous possibilities.

I can, and do spend hours online searching for enchantment in the form of the perfect paper. Even the names & descriptions are enticing – “wedding garden” Indian non-woven silk, embroidered pearl white on sage green, vellums, translucent white flower chains, ivory batiks, gossamer tissue with gold flecks. I spend my time at discount stores in the paper & stationery sections, buying brown mulberry envelopes, buttery yellow cards embossed with butterflies, exquisite wrapping paper with hand-painted hearts. What I will do with these treasures I know not, but ah, those possibilities.

Perhaps this isn't about the paper – perhaps this is about a passion for possibilities. When I tear a column of copper & silver squares, the rough edge suggests a tree, but I may instead use it as a border. Or perhaps I will tear it into even smaller pieces, and suddenly this handmade confetti will become snowflakes drifting through my painting, eventually to be painted white, or maybe . . .

You understand, don’t you? You stand in front of the paint-chip samples at the hardware store, and feel overwhelmed, not by the colors themselves, but by the future they represent. Will the room be quiet, simple – the color of whispers – or will it sing to you, convince you to dance to Cuban music, the volume turned all the way to 11, the walls the color of mangoes? Ahhh, those tempting possibilities. If you are like me, you stand in front of an empty canvas and feel the same way. It can be anything! What power! What possibilities! What color to start with? What paper to choose?

Today my canvas is covered with silver paper & pearl white paint, the sky a pale aqua glaze. There are embroidered clouds (or are those treetops?), and the ground is full of metallic seedlings, themselves full of possibility. There are birds and flowers and unfurling ferns, and the paper background seems a map for them to follow.

I follow it also. You never know where it will lead. the possibilities are amazing.

Words and images by Debi of Emmatree.


Miko's Girl said...

How wonderful to have the chance to see materials such as paper through the eyes of an artist. Thanks.

ELK said...


spread your wings said...

oh the possibilities indeed but your descriptions make it even more exciting. i love your work and it's fun hearing a little of your process. I bet your studio is a dream to walk into.
thank you for sharing.

SE'LAH... said...

Love the texture in the photos...I wanna run my fingers over them. Great artistic sense.

Happy Conscious Friday!

smith kaich jones said...

Miko's Girl - Thank you. It was pretty wonderful to just write it all down, to actually put into words how it evolves.

ELK - You are too, too kind. But I like it anyway, and I think it is bliss also. :)

SYW - My studio is so small. So small. It reaches its arms into my living room, takes up the kitchen. In the next few weeks, however, I am preparing to look for another space. Wish me luck!

SE'LAH - The texture is the main thing with me. I am slowly moving into non-representational art - where it will be all about the texture, but I haven't worked up the courage yet. LOL!

And RELYN! Thank you for this! It looks beautiful, and though I agonized about it, it truly began to just flow once I started typing.
I am honored & flattered to have been asked.

:) Debi

Derrick said...

Your papers look wonderful and so does the work you produce from them. I'm sure I would find it hard to paint over such beautiful designs!! But I love the hint of tuquoise(?) in the first photo. And the textures are great. Thanks for sharing all those possibilities.

Char said...

gorgeous words and papers

paris parfait said...

Like you, I am passionate about possibilities. One of my lifelong favourite expressions is "endless possibilities." And all this paper is gorgeous by itself - woven into your art, even more so!

TheChicGeek said...

Oh, my goodness, that was so beautiful. I believe it's definitely about having "a passion for possibilities." What a great way to say it. You've made me want to run out and buy tons of georgeous paper now....what I'll do, I don't know, but there's definitely possibilities :)
Great post!

Jeanie said...

Oh, my -- a woman of my own heart and passion. I've met few bits of paper I haven't wanted to save/buy/use in one way or another. And sometimes I don't even know how or what the endgame will be -- it will just be something wonderful. Maybe not beautiful, not perfect, but oh, the process! I love the way it feels, how it folds -- how one bit folds differently from another and how it can become so many things.

A passion for possibilities -- yes. Oh, my -- yes, indeed!

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Hi Relyn ~ I came to visit and found more talent than I can hardly take in during one setting. I really love what you are doing with the guest bloggers and it is so much fun reading all of them ~ Wow! Hope your SB is fabulous! Love you, Katie

robin-bird said...

i allow myself to sink into a mood of mystical possibilities when i prepare to read... no, not read, experience... one of your posts. i just float down into a soft feather pillow, giving myself over completely to your voice, your vision, the possibilities that you will open before me like the pages of a beautiful book. i am so fortunate to have you as my storyteller. i would close my eyes and listen like a blind person to you if i could. does that make any sense at all? i bet you do know what i mean.

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

this looks amazing, the paper looks so lovely!

Patti said...

Oh- such possibilities when creating...that is what art is. I love how Debi writes- thank you for having her guest blog!

Joanne said...

What a thoughtful post, perfectly depicting the beauty of being the artist, herself defining the art, be it on a canvas, or for the artist in us all, the paint color of a wall. Perfect.

smith kaich jones said...

Derrick - That is a hint of turquoise/aqua you see in the first image. The edge of a sky in a painting I am working on. And I admit to having some moments/some papers that just stop me from painting over them. Not often, though. :)

Char - Thank you!

Tara - And thank you. I so often feel quite pessimistic about things/the world/life, etc., but truly I must really be an optimist at heart - I believe in those possibilities out there waiting for us to grab them.

ChicGeek - Oh, buy away - you can always just look at the papers until or if you decide to do something with them. It always makes me happy!

Jeanie - Yes! The process is the best part! I almost don't care at all what the painting is about, as long as I get to paint. :)

Ragamuffin - I'm with you. Relyn's idea to share us all with each other, and stir the soup around, has been wonderful. I can't wait to see what's next!

Robin - My Robin. I know exactly what you mean, and I feel the same way about you, except I will need my eyes to help fly me into your wonderful photos. Muchas gracias mi amiga.

Tina - Thank you. Some of these papers are just wonderful to run your hands over. Makes me sigh. :)

Patti - You are so kind. Always. Thank you for these words.

Joanne - Bless you. I felt this wasn't "deep" enough, but once I began to write, it felt just fine. Thank you so much.

And again, thank you Relyn!

:) Debi

maddie said...


whispers of ideas are floating
around in my head....

even the names of colors are


Suvarna said...

You make me want to go out and buy paper right now.
Your descriptions are breezy and delicious and yes, full of possibilities, beautiful post.

meandering pearl said...

the paper with silver squares rubbing off onto your fingers, it drew me into an image of softest silver stars from a powder blue paper i once saw, rubbing off onto seeking fingertips, making the stars attainable & suddenly at the very tips of my fingers...too yumscious, your whole description!!! & what a beautifully sharing blog this is!

julochka said...

beautiful, wonderful possibilities, all lurking there within the pretty paper. you put it so beautiful.

thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh be still my heart - beautiful papers. Debi, you have such a pretty selection of papers. I want to see what you do with them!

dutchbaby said...

Yes, boundless possibilities! I share your passion for beautiful papers, but as a calligrapher rather than a painter. Are the first two photos your paintings? Simply gorgeous!I love, and lust for, each and every one of the papers you showed us here. The images of embroidered clouds and metallic seedlings inspiring.

Wendy said...

This is all lovely. I'm so thrilled to be able to "meet" Debi through your blog! Thank you!

Jaime said...

Debi, your descriptions of these beautiful things is exquisite. You make me wish I was an artist or a painter who knew what to do with such gorgeous materials. Your life brims with possibility.

This is wonderful.

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