Wrapped in a wool blanket, I take a sip of warming tea. I look out the window and take a deep, satisfied breath as I study a tangle of black branches etched against a frosty golden sky. The falling snow is so fine I can barely make out the individual flakes sifting down, hazing the sunrise into a sort of peach-tinged arctic fog. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Is this an effect of the lake nearby lake on the light? I wonder.
I check the temperature: 3°. Twenty-two degrees colder than my home 1000+ miles southwest of here. I pull my blanket in a bit closer around me, take another sip of tea, and turn to my writing desk. Dozens of colorful papers are scattered across the surface, inviting my consideration. I gaze over them, my eyes pausing here and there as I make a mental survey.
Then my fingers begin to move. I find a piece of paper painted first with yellow, then soft orange over it; it glows warm peach. One edge is torn exposing a white band of the paper’s pure white base. I turn the roughly square-shape paper so that the torn edge is on the bottom, and suddenly that torn white edge conjures a horizon line of snow-white mountains.
My eyes search the other colors scattered across my desk and narrow in on another — this one painted cool blue, with a wash of white across the surface, then a smattering of random grey speckles. It looks like winter rain or snow. My fingers pluck the color from the array and place it underneath the glowing peach color. A landscape emerges: Sunrise glow over an iced-over lake, with snow-covered hills in the distance. Taking a glue stick in hand, I turn over each paper bit, apply glue, then arrange and paste them in my journal.
In a moment I find another piece of warm peach-colored paper. This, too, has a torn edge.
My eye searches, then delights on a slate-blue color tinged with brushstrokes of gold. I arrange them into another composition, another landscape with a gold sunrise sky, distant snow-covered mountains, and a foreground of icy shadow-blue water dotted with gold reeds.
With these hand-painted pieces of paper and glue, I’ve just created in my journal tiny winter landscapes. They’re not masterpieces, nor are they intended to be. They’re simple and a little coarse with their torn edges. Yet to my eye there’s an elegance in their understatement. They make me smile; I feel the warmth of satisfaction in making art.
What I’ve done is I’ve “painted” just now without using a brush or paints. Instead I’ve used paper and glue: I’ve made collages.
Whenever I travel my Muse requires that I pack some means to make art, ideally something with color. But for this trip, limited to carry-on bags, I was uncertain what to bring. I didn’t want TSA to confiscate my pricey watercolors. While that seemed unlikely, the risk was too great. Besides, my current watercolor set-up is a bit bulky for my limited baggage options; same with colored pencils.
Then it occurred to me: Collage.
In the midst of packing I ran into my studio, opened storage boxes and filled an envelop with dozens of pieces of colored papers. I added a large glue-stick and Voila. I had my traveling art kit.
Now, a couple days into my weekend getaway to the upper Midwest, I’ve spent several hours in the warm blissful flow of creation, as I’ve filled pages of my journal with colorful conjurings of winter.
This is the second installment of a four-part series on my creation of my Enchanted Color Art Experience for Bishop’s Lodge Resort in Santa Fe.
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Stay safe. Be kind.
~ Dawn Chandler
Santa Fe , New Mexico
Free from social media since 2020