chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

layers…

collage by DAK, 1968As an artist, one of my mother’s great strengths was her understanding and use of color. To some degree, it was probably innate, but she also studied other artists, as well as the color theory of Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. She clipped meticulous squares and slices from her pack of Color-aid papers to study hue and tint and the many quirks of color perception. She mixed colors, in every medium, and tested them, laying down translucent washes of color onto sheets and scraps of paper.

Little was discarded. Her painted color tests found their way into one pile or another in the deep flat shelves in her studio closet. And then, with a timing and logic solely her own, they would find their way back out again to be layered into collages.

This collage, which is not served particularly well by its transformation to pixels, started its life as six of her painted paper samples. Whether she began with the intention of a portrait is impossible to know; she did many abstract, non-figurative collages. But with this one, at some point, before or after, she “saw” within the shapes and subtle colors her own profile and my father’s. These she sketched in pencil and developed further in watercolor or acrylic or ink, until she was willing to accept it as complete (a condition that was never absolute, her artwork always subject to editing).

That it is a collage makes it, in some way, more than the sum of its parts. She could easily have sketched the two of them (and did, on uncounted occasions) on a sheet of paper and we would likely still see her curly hair and simple, unfinished, tentative expression, his (as she perceived it) big head, strong chin, bald pate and Bob Hope nose. But as a collage, their profiles hang in space in a different way — his advancing, hers receding; his centered, hers almost an afterthought — that reveals so much about them, and about my mother as an artist and, most tellingly, as a person.

2 responses to “layers…

  1. cupcakemurphy July 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    This is all so beautiful.

  2. LaVera July 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, I love knowing other artist’s thought process.

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