Emboldened by Mary Green's online classes, I thought I'd share with you my before and after of a collage I created: "Paris Beckons!"
One of the things I reaffirmed in taking Mary's class is that yes, there are art 'rules' to go by (balance, proportion, the Golden Mean, etc) but in the end, so much about art is subjective. I love the majority of Mary's collages. One of them is now my computer desktop image. And yet....there were a few times in her class lessons where I said to myself, "No, I don't like that." Or she would show two different versions and explain why she went with the second one. And I'd find myself saying, "No, I like the first one."
As she often pointed out, so much is one's personal taste.
Even when I didn't like something she collaged together, I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated how she showed the thinking process she went through as she created.
It all boils down to the fact that being an artist is .... kinda scary. Cause no one is going to like EVERYTHING you make. And while one creates with the hope that a piece will appeal to the masses and make a million dollars, in the end, the one person who has to love it is the artist herself.
After I revised my "Paris Beckons" collage, I thought I might solicit more feedback before I submitted it to the printer. On second thought, though, I decided to go with the scary feelings and just put it out there! Because no matter how much critique someone gets, no matter how many changes one makes or what feedback one gets -- eventually, one has to 'let it go.'
Another important distinction Mary pointed out in her classes is that she often works with collage pieces simply as art elements for their color or pattern or size and shape. But there are others of us, myself included, who prefer to collage with a story in mind.
The inspiration or "story" behind my "Paris Beckons!" was that conflict of interest one experiences while traveling. The spirit is willing, but the feet are bloody tired! With a decade between my last two trips to Paris, my aging body reminded me of this battle all the more.
My original version was created in August 2011. I loved the "antiquity" in the image, but looking at it two years later, I felt it was too dark. When I began my revision, I switched from the original postcard format to a 5x7 greeting card size. The first layer is a real photo that has no connection to Paris except in my head!
This photo of paint and an arrow was on a huge piece of cement, part of the remains of a power plant in Oregon. But the red, sorta white and blue color scheme always makes me think of France. As you can see in the collage, I rotated the image so the arrow points up to run parallel with the Eiffel Tower and to echo the bird's song, "Time to get up. Rise and shine"
Playing with the options in Photoshop, I was able to make the red more vibrant. The red is the energy of the city which never sleeps and subsequently says, "why should you?" That's the rising sun that says "get up" despite the fact that one has just traveled 10 hours by jet with 2 layovers enroute adding another 8 hours of trave time, followed by hauling a 30-pound suitcase up three flights of subway stairs ..... You get the picture:)
Also, some of the dark Paris gray in the first version was replaced with a brighter "gritty" look, what I like to think of as the nitty gritty, down and dirty side of Paris, big city that she is. That grit is in her soul, too. Surviving wars and seiges through the centuries .... The grit and the rich burnt sienna tones also echo all the antiquity and history found on every street corner. And the flea markets, too! There is such a fine line between grungy and shabby chic vintage, but oh how fun it is to muck through it all at a Paris flea market!
I think one of the main things I like about my collage is that it's not the typical Paris greeting card.
It will be interesting to come back to this image in another two years and see how I feel about it then......