This is a guest post by Michelle Belto; the first in a seven week series. Each week one of the seven EncaustiCamp instructors will share their story, process and progress in our collaborative exhibit for EncaustiCamp 2015.
Michelle does a fantastic job of helping to introduce the overarching goal in this collaborative exhibit process~
I’m an extrovert as anyone who knows me will tell you. I’m not one of those who never has an unspoken word, I spend a lot of time by myself and am very comfortable with silence. I am using the term “extrovert” in its classical definition of “someone who is energized by the external world.” When I want to know something that I don’t yet know—in this case, a personal focus for the Connection series—I went into my extrovert mode. I have this feeling that the answer is “out there” somewhere and I will recognize it when I see it. I go mental shopping, so to speak.
Sometimes my shopping actually takes me somewhere. I go to book stores and read titles to see if an image jogs my consciousness or to retail stores to see how things are displayed if I am looking for bases for sculpture, for example. My critique group is a great source of insights into my work. Often a conversation with an artist friend will be just the trigger I need to have things come into focus for me.
For this series of work, it happened out of the blue! I was spending a little time “art surfing,” when I came across the work of Austin Kleon , a thinker and a blogger living in nearby Austin, Texas. He speaks about “stealing like an artist.” In the art world it is a huge ‘NO, NO” to “copy” the work of other artists. I find that my students often get stuck here. They like the style of a particular artist and then try to work that way. For example, I love the collage and abstract work of my friend and colleague, Lyn Belisle, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t achieve that flawless balance of image and meaning that she does.
Austin Kleon had just given me permission to “steal”, so I wondered about using my stolen art as a springboard, but moving it seven degrees away. How would the new art look? Where could that springboard take me? How could I honor and acknowledge the stolen art AND stay faithful to my own voice? The theme of Seven Degrees of Separation/Connection now had personal meaning to me.
To see how these reflections lead me back to images, stay tuned.