30 day collage challenge

Day 25 morning post

Prompt #25

(otherwise known as the just-because prompt)

Select a few pieces that keep catching your eye. 

bonus points if you choose some things you've been mentally pairing off and on throughout the challenge but they've had no direct or even tangential relationship to the prompt of the day.

do that thing.  make THAT collage.

just

because

.


Day 24 - results

Personal tryptich

When I woke up this morning I knew the biggest challenge I could set myself was to do this prompt with human examples rather than personifying myself as flowers and birds.  Thought:  I probably don't even have enough pictures of relevant humans to find the images I need.

Subsequently came up to the studio and located everything necessary within fifteen minutes - including the time it took me to eat some yogurt and stare around at the paper-oriented chaos.   It's a good and thorough mess but the space hasn't recently felt as consistently alive and bouncing off its own walls as it has in these last few weeks.  I have all of you to thank for that.   The way each participant has moved deeper into themselves and their unique 'collage brain' has encouraged me to do the same.   That's not something I imagined happening and it's been an amazing gift to receive from your singular and combined creative energies.

I picked my Within card first because I'd set the image aside for something else I was going to do this morning.

has been clear to me for decades that my Yang side/animus is a surfer dude.  I carry him around in my solar plexus and he in turn carries me around in the outer world.  Like it's no big thing.  Just chillax, Acey ... we've got this.

(and, at a deeper level of belief system(s) - My life/spiritual philosophy strongly suggests that our most important inner Be-ing is the balancing nature of polarity. )

Above - as my highest self and also open vessel for Divine energy to fill as needed - I am a mindful and diligent sower of seeds.

Below - I am simply myself without adornment or shame.  Equal parts awake and dreaming. 

From the earth I rose and to it I will return: equally awake and dreaming.

[J. took the Below picture two years ago.  Is kind of an underworld image here in the present tense so that's an unintentional layer of meaning for both the choice and expanded interpretation of 'below'.  I weighed forty pounds more and was fairly ill in an iatrogenic sense from very toxic immune-suppressant drugs I took for nearly four years.  The last thing I wanted was a picture of myself but I was taking the year long art journaling class and our technique for the month was stenciling.  We were supposed to take moody deliberately self-flattering selfies in high contrast lighting/clothing/hair situations and then make selfie-stencils for the theme of Re-birth.  This was the best I could muster.  And it's probably an accurate portrait of how I look/feel about our current world and whatever we do or do not "really" know about such things. ]

Oneeyestencil

half dreaming and half awake.  I really don't know how to handle our planet's human-driven current events any other way.


Day 23 - results

Fairmaiden

Today I zoomed back into the pages of my bumblebee allegory version of real life on our property.  Although this looks like a bush it's actually an Eastern Fringe Tree.   I got her for a paltry sum a few years back just past the point when she'd flowered and shed the dried blooms.  I call her Fair Lass because she's very fair indeed.  She came here in the middle of a drought so I waited for sustained rain before planting.  The following year her trunk was dead but several suckers emerged from the base.  Last year they all budded and leafed.  When I checked last weekend their buds were clearly wick despite the bitter cold.  Sometimes the prolonged cold stretch still to come claims the vigor of a few shoots. I cut them back and prune to shape the general architecture that's emerging.

This tree isn't native to our region but it's quite able to thrive in our hardiness zone.  For years I've eyed their showy many-trunked beauty in other peoples' yards or gardens. Have observed they often self-coppice as a way of adjusting their inner strength to new england's  specific cold season demands for survival.  If you follow the above link and scroll through the photos at the top of the page you'll see what the Fair Lass is likely to become.

Anything I plant takes into account what it might look like when my son's my current age, Providence willing.  It also takes into account how little interest he's shown in actively gardening throughout his life.   I want things that thrive quite well on their own and are mostly healing in the medicinal sense but I've also taken care to plant a few trees/bushes that can thrive on their own steam and also flower in show-stopping frequently sweet-scented blooms that prompt him to say "mom" out loud.  Just a few times a year should he choose to keep living here.

2ndtreeprompt

Although the Poplar that looks nothing like a poplar in its allegorical version and the Fair Lass are not in this close proximity they will one day be the Tree Keepers of this space I call the Evolving Sanctuary.  For today's prompt I stuck as close to the Fringe Tree's appearance last year as I could.  Wound up using very unusual paper choices but this challenge has loosened me up a lot in that way. 

Frogpondfrogs

In the process of rummaging for Florentine papers to fulfill yesterday's prompt I found an overlooked fragment of the frog paper I wanted to use for the magical frog pond spread above.   Four bear witness to the goat's amazing feat while the fifth basks in  holographic star-light...

(eta:  I never knew until 4 or 5 years ago that hummingbirds sometimes fly at night ...)


Day 23 morning post

Today's prompt was supposed to be the third replacement I created during the first week of the challenge.

It was:   Maybe it's time to address our political hellscape head-on

which seems unpleasantly redundant.

The adjusted prompt should be enjoyable group-wide.

Prompt #23:

Revisit the tree prompt

Create a companion because no tree should stand alone


Day 22 results

Florencevalentine

[Woke up with a strong intention to collage a valentine to a tiny lake inside the Adirondack Park blue line.  Beloved to my husband and I since the summer we were both 23 and discovered it together.  Then something in my deeper creative mind jacknifed the plan.  I guess you never forget your first love/sense of idyllic human completion.]

Innamorata -

Although you've had millions of devoted admirers over the centuries I can only hope that all their sweetest memories of your charms remain as vivid and alluring as my own.  I shall never forget the first evening I spent in your embrace made fragrant by night blooming flowers.  I first caught sight of your beauty from a rooftop dining space alight with the day's Golden Hour as I'd never experienced it.  Seeing a sea of similarly incandescent terra cotta rooftops awash in the same glow my soul felt itself reach for your hand.  You seduced me simply and completely.

Unable to sleep from the sheer excitement of being newly 18 and thousands of miles removed from anything  that would stop me from making decisions purely my own - I went with my two mid-70's EuroTour roomates to discover you as a threesome of young americans determined not to be ugly in our tourism and unafraid to venture forth in search of a city's true soul.  We wished to know you, Florence, as our jammed-packed tour itinerary would never reveal. 

We literally stapled our passports to the inside of our underwear and then moved empty-handed into the night of a place we'd never been and were unafraid to explore.  We simply followed the sound of voices and lights.  We'd been in Italy for about a week after traveling on an Italian ship for eight days to reach Naples.  The experience had taught us where we'd see, learn and laugh the most - voices & lights were our password to Truth for that magical 6 week window's worth of time.  It never once steered us to a bad or frightening place.  Not even when we followed an increasingly massive roaring sound to the piazza surrounding your jewel of architectural renown.

We'd unwittingly followed the sound of rage and resounding large-scale mobilization straight into some type of political rally that packed humans tight.  The air shimmered with the sound of their collective voice raised as one united by uncompromising dissent. We turned as a single whirl of legs and arms.  Your night air caressing us.  Knowing not to run outright and draw attention to ourselves.  We walked brisking without a clue of what we were doing.  Only one of us, after some panic-stricken hissing, was able to recall the name of our hotel.  But she didn't know where it was located. 

Directly in front of us were three stylishly dressed dark and handsome men three or four years older then we.  They at first were speaking ugently, all at once, in obvious group encouragement to arrive at the rally we were fleeing.  Then one of them saw us doing that and grabbed the arm of an another.  Without even a twitch of eye-contact consultation they pivoted towards us. 

We must not be frightened.  It was only a communist rally.  They themselves were communists but clearly reasonable and nothing to fear.  Said in three languages before I picked up enough friench, and another girl leaned into some rusty german translating abilities to get from one end of the thought to the other.  They were the handsomest, suavest, most self-assured young men I'd ever met let alone spent time with.  Only these many years later do I realize how rare it is to want to spend time with men that fit such description.

Florence - you gave me the most romantic safely madcap night of my life then and one of its sweetest fleeting memories now.  All held within your embrace.  Under a sky I'd paint with a base of cobalt blue and then find union with a host of specially mixed indanthrone blue and purple-grey tones.  I don't know if there were stars and a moon.   I do know there was a long luxurious stroll across an ancient bridge that held the imprint of your centuries' human foot traffic.

For a while we six stood in a silent line and gazed at the far more famous bridge that crosses your Arno river.  It was a lovely moment in a timeless place.  At some point the spell broke and I remember us talking in two somewhat urgent groups of belated consultation. Where were we going?  It appeared neither group knew. 

The gentlemen (for that's what they were...) weren't from this city but another they kept assuring us was of no importance.  Not in a forget you saw us way but simply reassuring us they lived nowhere we were obliged to visit as diligent tourists.  We laughed with a tentative willingness to proceed as a group intent on sharing the evening.   

(because of this long ago gift you bestowed, my most magical Florence, I never ever question unlikely paradise instead of disaster within movies showing us make-believe lives practically nobody actually lives.)

We ate watermelon.  And they taught us a regional dialect word from their grandparent's generation for this sweet delicious fruit that I still remember.  We climbed a seeming eternity of stairs and years into the future I'd return here and literally facepalm to see how close we'd been to the Uffizi Gardens. Climbing and climbing it seemed like time out of space until something very real and big crashed directly in front of us.  It was a stag; close enough to rear back at the rank odor of his scent.  Coming from where to reach what destination?  It was impossible to know.  All of us were amazed in a way that left us gasping with laughter.  Kissing occurred.  And then the night sky erupted with dazzling white light.  Music familiar to our shared generation - no matter where we lived - followed only seconds later.

We climbed the final distance to the edge of Piazzale Michelangelo.   It was ablaze with a glare of strung lights.  Internationally popular music pulsed from the back of open cars ringing the outer curve of the wide Piazzale.  We ladies jumped and clapped and spun to grab whoever we'd been kissing.  The young men laughed as a single voice of triumphant youth about to have a good time.  The evening - although retrospectively chaste - had spun us all in a web of delighted willingness to say Yes to you and ourselves and each other  We danced for several hours.  Stopping to drink water and eat more watermelon.  Strolling the very edge of the curve - shouting out greetings to people in our age-tribe dressed all manner of ways with all manner of accents and languages.   To kiss while wordlessly conveying in an entirely mutual way that was all that would happen. 

The walk back down the innumerable stairs didn't occur until daybreak.  Shoes in hands sticky with watermelon juice we marveled at all the terraced natural beauty we'd walked through with no awareness of how lovely and magical the night had actually been as it pulsed all around us.  Excitement erupted when the Stag's crashing after-trail was discovered.  We all stood still to stare at the proof of what we'd witnessed.  Just us and the stag.  Each of us turned slowly to search the landscape.  It was still impossible to guess where the stag had come from and where it was going.

And Florence.  I've never before told anyone ever about this night.  It was just too perfect to contain with mere words.

It still is.  That's why I added tiny hints of what it felt like using beautiful papers inspired by your own forever-beauty. ..


Day 21 - results

Treasurebox

As a first layer I did create at least the sense of an actual box with a lid that opened in the center to left and right.  Loved the way it looked!  Pictured exactly how I wanted it to look and then instead I crammed the page spread full in a way rather characteristic of my real-life treasure boxes.

The only fragment that remains of my constructed box is the strip of Japanese silk tape.  It's also the last remaining fragment of this wondrous tape but since this was not a material challenge its purpose had been to suggest the sumptuous often stuffed and tufted silk linings to trinket cases I remember some of the Old Nanas keeping when I was a child.  Something mysterious and elaborate from their own girlhoods in most cases.  The inside of the box was described with a piece of icy blue distressed damask patterned paper . I'll start with the tape and go up and around until we're back at the amaryllis bud.

tape representing my love of Japanese design both traditional & modern.  Hollyhocks and hummingbirds.  Summer's early morning sun.  Later spring's first peony.  And the way any rain-battered rescues scent the dining room - opening as beautifully as a pampered show bloom.  below the peony - 60's style pop art!!  My power/waxing crescent moon and favorite number 11 (in nearly all of its permutations) 

Small paper scrap representing silent glistening snow falling from a sky that seems to reflect the snow's sparkle once it's settled on the ground.  Both the stated Advice from A Tree - torn from a seed packet attached to a T-shirt bearing the same design.  A gift to my son for house/cat sitting while Jim and I took in an Orioles-Red Sox Game at Camden yards and spent the next fiendishly hot day exploring my favorite childhood destination:  Longwood Gardens. So I'm actively treasuring the memories of all of that.  As well as the meal we all cooked together once the family was briefly reassembled before T. took off back to the farmhouse with my special Beech in its side yard.

The full moon closest to my birthday and all the memories of the many times I've been fortunate enough to wander in its particular light among nature - unafraid and feeling deeply blessed.  The way the tree energy rises by slow inexorable degrees during early spring here in new england

(forgot that up at the top there's a strip of brown velvetish leaves on a golden background.  To representing dying-back plant matter in later fall. And also a golden/deep space purple reminder of the mayan prophecy that humanity shall be saved by a flower.)

  Our planet's oldest flower - the magnolia.  Her flower essence aids in all aspects of re-birth as well as labor and delivery/fresh new birth-growth of a creative endeavor or gaia-loving mission.

Happy thriving honeybees living in cooperation with our species.  My favorite comfort go-to meditative color range of dioxine purple, vivid coral, red-violet and clear bright lilac.  Ease:  physical, mental, emotional, and organically shared at community level. 

Just about the easiest and most dare-you-to-look-away lovely indoor flower to grow - the amaryllis.  The image also gives a strong shot of clear vibrant first chakra/red energy to stabilize and root all valuable memory and meaning.  This flower essence has always seemed very androgynous in its vibrational signature.  The remedy's effectiveness spans all levels of physical comfort and confidence actively felt as a vibrant mind-body connection.

Sprinkled throughout the treasured items - my favorite 'happiness' color of bold yellow streaked with orange.  Sometimes as snippets of no meaning to signify my fondness for using EVERY scrap of paper and also some free-cut stars to represent my love of spontaneous joy-filled unassuming craft time.

This was a very enjoyable and profoundly stabilizing prompt for me personally.  For a little while in the beginning I got shaky the way some of you did with the care package.  But then I focused on my intention for everybody else - to decelerate and come into a more rooted sense of creative mojo/essential Self despite the chaos and accompanying noise.   Dried my eyes, took a deep breathe and gently prodded my soul enough to finds seeds of joy ready to sprout and make flowers.

(big deep long exhale)

isn't it GREAT that we're all doing this together???


Day 21 - morning post

We're now two-thirds through the challenge.   The energy's been incredibly kinetic and abundant creative flow has been moving whoosh - all around our virtual table.   Let's slow the revs enough to take active stock of how you've grown deeper aware of the expressive possibilities collage offers.   Consider also how working in the challenge framework may have encouraged a sense of personal collage style that could be different from how you've approached this expressive medium in the past.   The questions I've encouraged you to ask and then visually answer have undoubtedly sparked questions of your own that you'll be moved to further explore.  Maybe you'll do that through the remaining prompts and maybe you're ready to downshift. 

Either way -

Prompt #21

Create an open treasure box of experiences

and creative devotion/whimsy

rather than material objects


Day 20 - results

Silencesreality(

Not sure I would have had the guts to make either the collage or the post that follows if I hadn't been so moved and inspired by Joanne's collage right here.

Originally I didn't plan to engage with this prompt because I figured I'd evoked all the Empress of Everything energy I could reasonably expect myself to express during the Care Package prompt.  But then I realized I was also avoiding something really important that I didn't want to deal with in an active way until after this challenge was complete.   Felt it wasn't "necessary" or "proper" for me to include what I wound up creating as part of my personal responses to the prompts.  Nonetheless here we are. 

My collage for today is in large part a delayed reaction follow-up to the real-life results of a collage I made the summer before last as part of year-long art journaling project.  Within that context the image spoke to my ongoing experience(s) being silenced by white culture in general and within my specific family of origin.  I allowed myself to visually specify what this felt like for the first time:  to be enmeshed within a solely white upbringing in a 90% white town (all Others neatly collected in slim enclaves with protestations that the Others wanted it that way ....) while being bi-racial and utterly estranged from my other half. 

The latter fact was routinely dismissed as  a mere detail which shouldn't be encouraged "to fester" because my inherently insufficient* environment was supposed to render me too grateful by my good fortune to be able to "pass" if I just applied myself to the goal with true will to succeed at it.

*I'm defining insufficiency in terms of knowing who I really was at a basic genetic level since it was glaringly apparent to me I was indeed half Other.  And consistently feeling myself as lacking any viable guidance towards developing life skills that were relational to my ongoing experience both at home and in the larger world.

*~*~*~*~*

  As a direct result of making that collage I subsequently ripped the metaphorical tape away from my very literal mouth and began expressing what felt the safest within an inherently troublesome aspect of my life :  the white-centric way in which my small but mighty family has lived since we moved away from a diverse urban hub of great meaning and empowerment to me.  And what that experience has led me to conclude without a shade of doubt:

Hypocrisy is a crippling by-product of all human nature, no doubt.  But the specifically white version of it insures nobody anywhere ever really gets very far with race relations.

entirely true for me without doubt.  But I went about expressing it in the dogmatic emotionally charged manner of somebody who's been honing their rage as well as their ability to sit quietly with a thing I cannot fix by myself or by summoning my own white mojo intent to have it be otherwise.   And I regret that very much.  THAT isn't just something I can fix - it's something I must fix because nobody else can do it for me. 

Empress of everything

To illustrate my re-considered intentions moving forward - I began with a healthy dose of self-accountability that focused on an ability I actively hold here in the everyday world that I can apply within experiences involving my linear human landscape - starting with a photocopy of the lede collage.  I pasted in a dedicated journal I'll probably wind up sharing a bit on this blog once this challenge is in the past tense long enough to have reclaimed one or two planned winter learning projects first.

 I also photocopied two other elements of the same art journal where I made the original collage - tracings of my left and right hand decorated with off-world tatoos what have been re-configured so they might attend to my silenced past-tense self.  In this collage they embody the wise and seasoned touch of my highest self  and all her cumulative experiences and observations.  Thus the hands work slowly and with gentle patience to loosen the powerful adhesive that's kept me 95% quiet about this pivotal aspects of my ongoing life experience for more than half a century. 

- notice they are using flower medicine to loosen the adhesive and heal the wounds it caused -

My right hand takes command of the evolved objective - to liberate by way of accrued finesse and empathy My other - receptive and empathetic - hand cradles my forehead to steady me for the shock and abrupt shift that will come when the tape's finally removed and I now hold sole responsibility for whatever I elect to say or not.  In acknowledgement of this - through the process of making the collage - I've given myself a sovereign power - the power of gentleness - I already had without knowing how to claim or implement it.

This collage that I almost didn't think it was 'necessary' to let myself make at this time and in this specific venue is probably the most personally meaningful and healing response I've had in the process.  It's a visual pact with myself as a writer and activist.  

AND

far more importantly -  from now on making the commitment to deliver myself from the idea there's only one way to get a thing done.   Or that there's a BEST way and for some reason I'm the one who knows it.   And that if I'm not heard or remotely 'accepted' in that one-way's cadence and tone then I have failed The Cause and myself.

failed to grow, maybe.

but I'm pretty much done with that too.

(tomorrow begins the final third of the challenge.  We'll be downshifting the intensity of the prompts' self-exploration curve in order to discover what might want to grow in all the fresh inner space we've made through better understanding who we are creatively and what we're making of and for ourSelves through making art of whatever form.)