Lost and Found, then Lost and Found
Last week I told you the story about how I became fully involved in making art and painting. If you look at my portfolio of paintings though, you can see that my work is all over the map.
For years, I’ve been painting landscapes, house portraits, pet portraits, acrylic, pen and ink, abstracts, realism, and on and on. I could not settle on a genre, a medium or even a cohesive color palette. Though I had found my studio, found my passion, I was still lost.
Again, something unexpected happened. This time it was a news story that my cousin Jane sent to me from Scotland. An artist there was creating book sculptures and anonymously leaving them in the libraries around the country. It was creating incredible excitement and an outpouring of public support for libraries at a time that the government was planning to cut funding.
I’d never considered sculpture made from books, but there were boxes full of them in the attic from my days of teaching. So I played around with some ideas for a book about the moon, then a hot air balloon, and then a cookbook.
I can’t even describe the cautious, puzzled questions from the other artists at the cooperative, “Now what is that you’re doing?” As a relatively new member, I was feeling a little foolish. But the challenge of making these book sculptures was intriguing, and it was luring me in.
As I continued experimenting with methods, including carving and folding books, the response from the other artists became more encouraging. Their caution was turning to wonder. And the response from the public was phenomenal.
In homage to my anonymous inspirer, I also secretly planted book art into the 10 public libraries of Virginia Beach. That created quite a buzz, which even garnered some press attention. I also began winning awards for book art. And the artwork began to sell.
A telltale sign that this is the right medium is that inspiration for the next piece is never far away. I used to work so hard to come up with ideas for paintings, but the book ideas—they find me, all hours of the day, seven days a week. I no longer procrastinate on projects; I usually can’t wait to dig in.
I was lost with painting, but with books, I’m found.
How about you? Are you lost right now? Looking for that juju that will put the fire in your belly? Or are you found? Either one is ok, because this life is just one great journey. Where are you on your path?