Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life parallels art

Have you ever noticed how suddenly it's Thursday and you can't remember where the week has gone?

This past week has been a blur of media asking for interviews regarding homelessness and the coming winter and working on a present for my mother's 85th birthday on August 30.

I naturally decided to try out a new painting technique using collage for my mother's gift. Cool technique. Long process. And, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. I'm working on two pieces simultaneously. One my 'test case', the other -- hopefully -- the real one.

Life parallels art and sometimes, the lines become blurred.

The technique I'm using requires finding images I like -- photos, pics from mags, etc. -- photocopying them and then brushing them with an acrylic medium, letting them dry, reapplying gel and then affixing them to the canvas I've prepared. Colour can be added to the images once they've dried and the paper back of the laser photocopy has been removed. (which takes a lot of delicate rubbing to ensure every paper fibre is cleaned off.) There's some magic process that takes over with the photocopying that releases the laser ink image onto the prepared canvas through the acrylic medium the picture's been brushed with.

Sounds simple. Not so easy. I only have fuzzy directions a girlfriend gave me, a few online directions that do not use the same technique, and a 'vision' of what the finished product should look like. The drying process for each element takes about 24 hours and the finished art is not turning out quite the way I imagined.

So, midway through the creation, I realized I'd best have Plan B ready if I'm going to have the gift finished in time for my mother's birthday.

Like life. Start out with Plan A only to realize it's not working out quite like you expected or it's not taking you in the direction you want. The choice becomes to either stick it out and force the process into the anticipated outcome, (with all its ensuing frustration, irritation and disappointment when you still don't get what you wanted) or to step back, reassess and look for Plan B. It might only be a vague idea of what to do if, as and when a detour is required, but Plan B always brings unanticipated gifts. Remember? Expect the unexpected and you'll always be surprised!

My Plan B entailed coming home last night and suggesting to my daughter that we take a trip to the mall (we needed dog food anyway) and look at other ideas on what we could do to create a shadow box that celebrates my mother's life. She happily agreed and off we went to spend a wonderful hour browsing through the aisles of our favourite craft store, picking out borders and wallpaper, flowers and trimmings that will enhance the visual elements of the pictures we'll mount in the box we bought. When we were finished, we stopped off at an eatery and spent a wonderful hour enjoying some unscheduled time together to get caught up, to laugh and to share.

As we were finishing dinner, I noticed a couple looking vainly for a table. We had been given a largish table with two empty spaces on the other side. I called out and told them we were leaving shortly, they were welcome to sit on the other side of our table. The woman quickly accepted -- though Alexis and I laughed as the man hesitated, and eventually sat down without smiling. The woman chatted comfortably. "Oh my," she said. "Mother. Daughter. I've never seen such a resemblance." Alexis and I laughed -- we get it all the time where ever we go. People stare because we look so much alike. We chatted briefly, finished our glass of wine, paid our bill and left. The man had not said a word.

Walking to the car Alexis said, "Bet I know what colour he is! Green. And she's definitely an orange."

I laughed and agreed.

Plan B's also come with lots of colour. Just like people.

There was a time when someone as stern and forbidding as the man at our table would have made me uncomfortable. Now, we could be wrong in his colour determination -- but it sure helps knowing that some people are just naturally that way. Doesn't mean they're angry, sour, or even indisposed. Simply means they're being who they are.

Being who I am is so much easier when I relax into my skin, let out the elastic band holding my mind in place and let my colours flow.

I've had a busy week. Been on task, focused, 'on' with the media every day. I was tired last night. Frustrated by a couple of events during the day. My mind was busy, busy working through a couple of situations. Plan A was to come home and work on my collage. At the back of my Plan A fixated mind, however, was the realization that the outcome was not appearing as beautifully as my imagination intended it to. I needed a new plan.

As my Aunt Marie Therese would say, What to do? What to do?

Let go.

I opted out of keeping myself in tight control where my focus on completing Plan A prevented me from seeing there was an alternative. In the letting go I got to enjoy an evening with my daughter. We came home and worked on our shadow box and fell into the love of doing something creative together.

Plan B may not have been my original destination, but whatever the outcome of the shadow box (which we love! btw), the time spent shopping and eating, chatting and creating together was priceless.

The value of Plan B is far greater than the fixed determination of finishing the collage for the sake of -- I started it. It was what I planned. I have to finish it. The value of Plan B is found in the time shared, the memories laid down on the back of a shadow box, and the memories created as Alexis and I did what we love to do -- together. Spend time enjoying eachother's company surrounded by creation. And in the end, we have a gift that is a reflection of all of us -- Liseanne, her sister, came home midway through our 'shadow boxing' and added her creative elements too.

Sometimes, I need the reminder that outcomes are not the journey. Doing it, sharing it, loving it is.

May your day be filled with with the inspiration of the unexpected popping up and opening doorways into new possibilities, new horizons and lots of time shared with those you love.

No comments: