Get Back to Play

It is a happy talent to know how to play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, okay I throw in the paint brush! Car problems, being under the weather, family obligations and other mundane issues, meant limited time spent at “The Office”, and it feels as though nothing noteworthy was accomplished. Still, life offered a lesson worth sharing. This week, the Muse sent me a teacher in the form of a three-year sprite named Jack. Did I happen to mention he is related to me? That Muse has a sense of humor, for sure.

Playing at The Happy PlaceI have a studio at home, “The Happy Place”, where I do much of my 3-dimensional work, have my library, and store my supplies for teaching. It is one of the places that Jack loves best, where the colors pink and blue reign supreme, and there are boxes of bones, stones and feathers to open and explore, and whatever creative world you wish to visit you may.

And so that’s my biggest accomplishment this week; I played.

It’s too early to say that any great insights occurred, or that a creative door was opened. Sometimes it’s play just for the sake of playing and sometimes something made while playing does end up in a finished piece. Take for instance the mixed media piece, Edgar, Of Course, now at the exhibit, Do You Know Poe?, at the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn.

Edgar, of Course
collage, paint sample card, leaf, text, etching ink, 8″ x 8″

Edgar began as a demonstration of using stencils and masks in mono printing. I laid the tag board silhouette on a sheet of Plexiglass, used a brayer and rolled ink over it. I lifted the bird, placed a sheet of paper on the image, and put it through the etching press. Voila, a print! I showed variations of using the silhouette as a mask, and the cut out area of tag board as a stencil. Basically, I was just playing around, not really trying to accomplish anything other than showing a technique or two.

But when I was done, I was struck not by the prints produced but the silhouette itself, now gloriously inked yellow, green and orange. A  lithograph someone abandoned years ago became another surface to print on. Alice, always eager to join the play,  gave me the oak leaves, now skeletal and lacy. Later, I found and assembled other elements needed to complete the image you see here.

But the bottom line is this: I didn’t set out make a crow that was yellow, green and orange; I was just playing, without fixed intentions towards outcome. Those who know me, know that I am serious about my art making. Sometimes I become too goal driven and I don’t step back from it, to just enjoy taking a day or two to explore, to learn again the lesson from a pre-schooler, that play is worthy work.

Now time to get back to work, I mean play.




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