In January I took one giant leap out of my comfort zone to participate in the ever delightful and most talented Kathy LaRocco’s “Whimsical Portrait” collage class at The Studio Art School in McHenry. The thought of doing a portrait was altogether exciting AND intimidating since it is entirely uncharted territory. But having taken a couple of Kathy’s fabulous classes in the past, I knew I was in most able and trusted hands. She is simply wonderful! I wholeheartedly recommend her classes, no matter what your background in art or what your preferred medium happens to be. I can always count on walking away from the experience stretched and refreshed, as well as awed and inspired by others who take the class.
In this case, it was an exercise in stretching, intended to loosen us up. We weren’t out to necessarily make a frame worthy masterpiece. It was more about learning something new and letting go…Case in point, I went into this class with a very firm idea that my inspiration would be the photo of my great-grandma Marie from 1918 featured in my last blog post. But to my surprise, our beloved instructor had us sketching with our NON-dominant hand on phone book pages, and working as she described in an intuitive fashion. Instead of great-grandma, what emerged from my left-handed-chicken scratch attempts at sketching a face, was the portrait of an asian man my 1st grader could have made.
It wasn’t difficult to let go of my own expectations, and open myself up to where this piece was taking me. As things evolved and the composition of the piece developed, my asian man became an asian woman. Sorry for the poor quality of these photos.
I could have very well stopped here, because I was appreciating the simplicity of her face in the context of the rest of the composition. However, wanting to explore more of the techniques that Kathy was sharing with us, I kept going forward.
For a first ever attempt at a face, the nose gave me the most trouble. I can see how the more I attempt them, the less intimidating they will become. It’s simply fun trekking into my own uncharted territory and making new discoveries along the way.
If you have ever seen the amazing work of artist, author and possibilitarian Kelly Rae Roberts , you can totally understand the appeal and allure of working in collage. Her work, as well as that of my teacher Kathy LaRocco’s, continues to inspire me to stretch and challenge myself to go places I haven’t gone.
My whimsical portrait of an asian girl may not be a whopping “masterpiece”, but I do rejoice in her birth. She represents conquering a fear of the unknown ( a face…Eek!), opening myself up to new possibilities, staying flexible during the creative process and delighting in a more intuitive approach toward creating. I do sincerely plan to make another attempt at great-gram’s portrait in collage. However, there is NO telling who she may end up looking like next time! 🙂