Deconstruction & Reconstruction: A Metaphor for the Times

I wrote recently about disorientation and the disorientation. We’ve all been experiencing because of COVID and the disorientation that we are commonly sharing. However, disorientation happens in regular life, too. When we are not in COVID and we are not in, you know, global pandemic. So as I’ve had some time to think about some things and do some decluttering. I have been wondering what to do with the inventory that I have of artwork that I’ve created.

I mentioned this in my recent artist newsletter that the artwork that I’ve created it’s already served its purpose. For me it’s about the process not the product. I’m happy to pass along to others, or sell to others, if it brings them joy and if it brings color and texture into their life in their world. But I don’t necessarily do art to sell it which is probably weird for an artist. I love when people resonate with something that I produce and support me by investing in it, and that sort of thing so don’t get me wrong I’m totally happy to sell my art, but it’s not why I create art.

Anyway, as I always do – I turned to Google or Pinterest to collect ideas about what people do with their inventory. And the answer is ranged from burn them to just keep painting over them to donate them to a hospital to all kinds of things. But one comment that I really resonated with was the idea of reusing pieces. So not the idea of painting over. But the idea that you would deconstruct a canvas to then use those pieces of materials to reconstruct something else, like a collage. So I’m intrigued by this idea and I took two canvases two very small canvases yesterday and deconstructed them. And what that meant was I took some scissors to it. And then as soon as I made a cut – I ripped, and it had frayed edges, and it had pieces of a focal point missing, that sort of thing.

Then I played around with collage pieces – like gelli print papers on deli paper, like other practice pieces of paper, stickers, book pages, and music sheets. I don’t think I did washi tape in this iteration at all. And then I looked at the canvas pieces and I wondered what I wanted to do with them.

One of them had a rose like flower on it and I cut it out. I cut it away from the background it was originally in, and it had been created with modeling paste. And so it had a 3d texture to it. And then I used the rest of the background and cut leaves or leaf shaped things out of it. And then started playing around with composition. Composition of what it could look like for this small canvas that was probably a 6×6 to then be translated and reconstructed with new elements into an 9×12 paper piece of artwork.

It was a really interesting process, it was a lot of fun.

I’m not an expert in collage, and I tend to take things just a step too far. So I did two pieces yesterday and one of them I like a lot, and the other one I took too far. And so I’m going to have to play around with that. But I think there are some significant metaphors of deconstruction and reconstruction. I think we often see disorientation or disruption. Deconstructing what we’ve always believed or deconstructing the way things have always been or deconstructing those kinds of things. But I don’t often hear a lot of discussion about the next step.

So we came from a place of orientation, a place of something that had originally been constructed. And now we’re in this disoriented place where deconstruction is happening. But if I just left my artwork in pieces on my on my table, and never attempted to integrate them with new elements. That’s just trash.

But if I can take the bits from what was or what was deconstructed, if I can take the bits and put them to new use and and introduce them to different elements and create a new thing, then the deconstruction part is a part of the entire journey and a part of the entire process, and nothing is wasted in that process.

And so I think in our world right now we have a whole lot of deconstruction happening. And that is probably a good thing, but it’s not the end of the story. The end of the story is in reorientation and reconstruction. And then it will all happen again of course right this is a cyclical process it’s not once and done. But we are right now in a very uncomfortable deconstruction and disorienting place, but it is not the end of the story, and just taking time to do that artwork yesterday, gave me a renewed hope.
Reminding me of what I believe that this is not the end of the story. Then I can continue to endure the disorientation and the deconstruction with the hope for what is going to be reconstructed.

I’ll link to other blogs I’ve written about disorientation if that would be helpful to you. And I’m probably going to continue to play with this idea of deconstruction of canvases and playing around with collage, and delving into composition and learning more about composition, from a technical standpoint because it’s not like I said it’s not an area of my expertise.

So I have a couple of reflective questions for you.
◆ What are areas in your life that you would label as deconstructing or in a phase of deconstruction?
◆ When you look back at your life, can you see this cycle of construction deconstruction reconstruction, or orientation disorientation reorientation? What do you now know about yourself from reflecting on those cycles in your life in previous times.
◆ And I guess the final question would be how are you navigating right now. Are you aware of the phase that you’re in, are you how are you navigating that? How do you want to navigate that?

I would love to hear about your reflections, feel free to email me at arsmithstudios@gmail.com.

**I dictated this using the otter.ai app so the tone is very conversational (on purpose)**

The Spiraling Redemption Process

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Below is a video of the process that got me to the painting above. It was a canvas I had used for demo purposes at a session reflective art. I used it to show various techniques during a New Year’s painting session to invite the new year and new experiences.

In the process of “redeeming” this canvas, I journey a couple of different places. I started by deconstructing what it had been.  I used a drawing of a woman holding her knees that I had done as practice for a different “Held” piece (Held: Safe).

And I will say it again – hands are hard – so, I attempted one hand that ended up looking cartoony, finished it with details, etc. Not satisfied. Wiped it all back with baby wipes and let it dry while I moved on to another piece.

When revisiting, I did a single had large enough to envelope her and protect her. I love the colorful hand showing creativity, warmth, and joy. I also enjoyed every second of this redemption process….even when I didn’t like the aesthetics, I loved the process of pushing paint around the canvas, mixing colors, and adding textures.

As you view this time-lapse, I’m curious what strikes you about the iterative process of redeeming a canvas? Do you see life applications, learning lessons? What comes to mind for you?

Curly-haired Lovelies….a study of silhouettes

 

I am really enjoying creating on smaller canvases with a bit more real estate than typical canvases. These are 6x6x1.5…museum profile – which means I have 4 sides to use in my creativity.

These were multi-day pieces, with many, many layers involved. I had no idea they would be what they became.

I am a curly-haired girl who never had the “right” hair to fit in or look “professional,” always out of control curly hair with a mind of its own. Spent much of my life believing there was something wrong with the way my hair grew and with the look of curls. So, I decided to put this journey to canvas and explore curly-haired silhouettes, since most of the ones I’ve done have either had no hair or smooth hair….I wanted ones that looked like me!!

And then I had to do a poppy as well and play around with my neon magenta paints  – so fun!!

Of late….

Last week I had the BEST time hosting my first ever Reflective Art Retreat for a lovely group of women on the Oregon Coast. “Unfold the Soul: Reflective Art Retreat” was an amazing success, beyond my wildest dreams.

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I am looking forward to offering many more of these in the (near) future!!

We connected, created, enjoyed decadent foods, rest and the sea!! Keep posted for  updates on future offerings!!