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 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.
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