Day 17 Collage Talk: “Only Words”

“Only Words” is what I called this introductory collage of words, letters, and a lamp, which could represent light—though I can’t say I intended that particularly.

Mini Collage #23       cSylvia Robertson, 2017

I didn’t make the collage for any Big Idea reason.

I’m just nuts about words. So when I saw the study lamp in my junk mail travels, I suppose it made me think of study, reading, and so, words in print. That sent me off to the kitchen, to the old defunct dumbwaiter now become storage for catalogs, throw-out magazines, newspapers, and books. (Treasure trove for a collager, huh?) There, in the piles, I’d permanently stashed some old dictionaries. Out of one I ripped a couple pages, and proceeded from there. Words clipped from magazines and typewriter-letter stickers finished off the composition.

And that was that. Until…

…I learned that right now is the key week in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). …I mentioned it in this post, then got a comment quoting from a Jackson Katz speech on “violence against women.”

Wanting to know who this man was, I searched, and found him giving this TED talk—and indeed, it included the same quote, but went further—and it really made me think about how poorly we use words, and sentence structure, when speaking about “violence against women.”

Himself quoting linguist Julia Penelope, he started with the basic, simple sentence,

John beat Mary.” Subject-verb-object. Very simple, direct, active. (I emphasized the subject, like we used to do in school…)

Then he showed what happens to that basic fact in our culture.

That sentence quickly becomes…

Mary was beaten by John.” (Active verb changed to passive; Mary becomes the subject of the sentence, on whom the attention falls. John, meanwhile nearly falls off the side of the paper.)

This morphs quickly into…

Mary was beaten.”

which soon tends to become

Mary was battered.”

which in turn changes to

Mary is a battered woman.” Now this has become her identity!

And what happened to John? He’s been out of sight for some time now!

Jackson Katz’s campaign is to get through to men that violence against women is not a women’s but a men’s issue that they need to take responsibility for, especially male leaders in our culture—particularly to change the prevalent passive mindset.

Applause for him!

But I’m a woman, and I’ve been focusing on what I, and other women, can do about it.

One thing I’ve already explored is the need for us to 1) get better acquainted with abuse tactics and how they’re used [which needs lots of further discussion], and 2) train our ears, and hearts, to stop and listen if someone starts to confide about abuse she’s had happen to her… Er, rather… about the abuse some other certain individual perpetrates against her.

See how I/we’ve been conditioned to word this situation? It’s true: that’s the kind of thing we say. But realizing this helps us see what else we can do that could really help turn the tide: Quit phrasing these things this way. Rephrase into active simple sentences; no passives; no Mary as the subject with an invisible “problem,” like a hidden, inexplicable disease: Someone hit my friend! Her husband abused her!

Just words. But how we use them can either obscure or acknowledge the truth about perpetrators being perpetrators! It may be just a beginning. But it is a beginning.

***

[Another good thing that is happening is the push for bystander intervention to prevent violence before it happens. There’s really more that we can do as bystanders, without jeopardizing our own safety, than we realized. And sometimes that can be just “a word fitly spoken,” too.]

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

 

 

 

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

Why Collage?

           Or… sing?

Or climb mountains?

Or ride horses?

Or write poems?

Or… whatever you do that seems to arise from some invitation inside that says, “Come on! Let’s do this!”

It’s about how we’re made. Wired. Designed. Created.

Mini Collage #11 Round on the Ground      cSylvia Robertson 2017
    Mini Collage #12 Books and Bottles       cSylvia Robertson, 2017

A recent blog comment in this series asked me what my intended life metaphor was in the collage that post displayed.

I caught my breath. I hadn’t realized I’d attached “life metaphors” to so many other collages until I read that question. But, then, coming up with such metaphors seems to be part of how I’m wired, too.

Does how I’m wired make others tired? I hope not! But it could. Maybe I need to keep my metaphors to myself more…

Anyhow, there wasn’t one for the collage in question. In fact, I couldn’t even think up one!

Likewise the two collages above. Their great message: There is none! It’s just fun! (Or… Maybe that’s the message.)

I rip or cut out bits of color, texture, shape, line movement, and images or words that just appeal to me—for unidentified and unreasoned reasons. I start “playing” with the pieces of paper, sorting out similar and contrasting ones, pushing them around on a little 4 x 6 card, trying different arrangements.

Why? I don’t know, really! Except that’s a bent I believe God built into my pre-conceived makeup.

Some people run, and end up in marathons; some climb mountains, higher and higher; some sing; some build… (My husband, for example, loves to build buildings! He’s got them all over this property of ours!)… some draw intricate pencil renderings or slap paint onto canvasses. And some collage. What’s inside comes out—if unhindered—like butterfly from cocoon.

True, in areas of creativity, whatever the medium, the expression sometimes reveals thoughts, desires, and emotions in the heart’s hidden parts. Often these revelations surprise the artist/creator as much as anyone. But sometimes there’s no big message, no Great High Truth.

How did “Round on the Ground” come to be?

I saw circles. All through my scraps. Different textures, a few subdued colors. Clippings that invited me to underlay the circle arrangement with gravel and brick. The collage is simply a composition of “repetition with variation”—round stuff! I just liked doing it, and I just like looking at it. And I guess that’s really the bottom line in any kind of visual art. It’s something to look at. Period.

“Books and bottles” came together because a catalog happened to have a bunch of both in their displays, and the subtle colors went together nicely. I arranged the objects in a pattern, but it looked too stiff and static and lifeless. That prompted me to add the (quilted?) curves, lively round flowers, and curved black fabric with white circular designs.

The composition still looked fragmented with the different shelves too cut off from each other. On the catalog spread was a polka-dotted ottoman or two. I cut the dots into rows, echoing both the shelf rectangles and the circular shapes of black cloth and flower patterns. I used these rows to connect shelf to shelf and move the observer’s eye through the whole collage. Why’s the mortar board there? Just because of its color, and because it goes with books.

Just design. Just experimenting. Just fun…

Like God must have had when creating His flamboyant universe! [But there I go, bringing in extra meaning! Oh, my! Oh, me!]

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: “The Beauty of Serenity”

 

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Just this today:

A collage depiction of serenity. 

Mini Collage #18 “The Beauty of Serenity”        cSylvia Robertson, 2017

…Because that’s what today is meant for.

Quiet. Rest. Serenity.

May you be blessed with it today.

***

(Collage components:

Large color areas are catalog photos of fabrics.

The pastel, flowy abstract area was torn from a picture of a rug.

The lovely flower comes from the cover of a bulb catalog.

Serenely simple.)

*****

Previous posts in this series:

 

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

 

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Every now and then in these “31 Days” I plan to post some collaging techniques I’ve learned along the way. The first, today, is called extending a cut shape. I first used this method with my kids, while homeschooling.

It’s really as simple as it sounds.

Mini Collage “Fleur de Free” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

Cut out a shape from a piece of paper. It can be a solid color, or patterned, as used here; fine decorative paper or junk from the mail pile or an old wallpaper sample or remnant of gift wrap. Something that will lie flat (nothing too rumply) will be easier to cut for this method.

The shape can be just about anything, too, but keeping it basic and simple is a good idea, certainly at least to start. In today’s collage it’s an egg shape, with top and bottom straight (either from being cut from a rectangle in the first place or leveled off later to fit the 4×6 card. I think the former is the case, because the flower pattern I cut egg-shaped was a rug in a furnishings catalog—Lots of beautiful, even spectacular rugs out there these days!…)

Next, lay your shape on a cutting mat or board, and cut a few lines, straight or curved, all the way from side to side or top to bottom. An exacto type knife is the ideal tool, but if you don’t have one, you could pencil your lines, then cut with scissors. Here you can see one vertical cut at the left side (better visual dynamics than a static down-the-middle), and several repeated, parallel cuts (not all equidistant) running hoizontal.

Lay the pieces in order on a background (in this case, the plain white card—a good choice actually, especially with a patterned paper shape).

Then spread them apart, thus extending the shape. (So when you cut out your shape in the first place, you need consider the area available on your background piece and how much spread you’re going to give the pieces.)

The extending above is fairly regular, with little difference in distances between pieces. The open white area down the middle does swell toward its middle, making its own contours somewhat ovate. But all else is fairly regular here. This is not necessary. You can experiment with different distances and see what you like.

Don’t aim for a masterpiece, but a learning exploration.

Once satisfied with your arrangement, paste down the pieces.

You might want to add other cut pieces to add interest and enhance the overall design, as I did, above. I pointed the leaves and the flower stem in toward the main design to draw the viewer’s eye that way. You could keep this in mind, too—or not. There’s no science to this except that it’s experimentation.

Try it, and have fun! If you have kids or grandkids around, what a great way to get them away from the iPad for a while and get their creative juices flowing—and do the same for yourself, too!

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

As I write this post, I’m propped up in bed in the master bedroom, computer on lap, mini collages spread across the blanket surface beside me. Not my usual writing location and mode! But I’ve displaced myself with toxic fumes.

The middle room upstairs where I usually do my writing now, has become uninhabitable. Three walls and the ceiling (my latest “crazy idea”) are covered in the same light blue. Today a darker shade rolls onto the remaining wall. Then the woodwork will turn white—not by magic, but by hard work that takes time—and leaves fumes.

So I’m displaced. But the paint project that has pushed me out of my writing habitat also provided free material I used in today’s collage.

Before I chose the paint, I’d brought home several cards of sample “chips” to stick on walls, to view in various lights at various times, to discern the best colors for my purpose of making this more a “Serenity Room.”

With fairly strong confidence I picked three shades, and separated those chips to take back to the hardware store and get the paints mixed. That left me several “throwaway” cards. What to do with them?

You can see: collage with them! I’d observed paint chips incorporated in mini collage before, on You Tube, in a video I can’t now locate to credit. That had prompted me to stash mine with my collage materials.

That stash also contained the silvery hearts you see—clipped from a Victorian Trading catalog, parts of a light string (like Christmas lights) called “love lights.” Now coming across them, I thought they cried out to go cascading softly down the collage like water drops, softening the angular arrangement of blues with their curves and curving trail.

The composition still needed something. A vase of flowers seemed to belong. So on it went, and there we have it, a collage I’ve called “Lovelights and Blues.”

“Blues” doesn’t exactly represent the “mood” in the composition, though, does it? For these blue hues look “happy,” and the hearts speak sparkle and the whole mix serene joy.

But I kept this blog post’s title because this month, October, is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this Sunday kicks off its emphasis week. I think poignantly of people I know—and wonder how many I’m unaware of—who once had beautiful hopes of their lovelight glowing “happily ever after” and their circles of love staying intact and shining forever—but found their sweet dream turning nightmare, once they’d committed their lives to it.

Sometimes you’d never know, because everything visible to the outside world looks as happy as that collage. In the past decade I’ve learned a lot about “hidden abuse,” because of people close to my life going through it, and how especially hurtful it can be when the false picture projected to the world seems to invalidate anything the abused might try to reveal about it to get help and support.

Maybe before these 31 days are over I’ll share some of what I’ve learned. But for now I’ll just give you this link to the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women definition, which may include many things that don’t show up as abuse to the public. For more detailed information, this extensive Wikipedia outline  gives links you can click to learn more about different forms of hidden as well as other abuse.

Becoming aware is the first and crucial step to becoming helpful.

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”