Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Camel - Mixed Media Tapestry made from Upcycled Junk Mail -- "The Last Straw"

 The Last Straw.

It came to me in a dream. A lucid dream, where I was holding a baby camel. I laughed out loud, but stayed asleep. So vivid was this dream, that I immediately looked up the meaning of the dream.
The Last Straw  

 Of course, a dream about a camel can be about endurance, long journeys, reaching goals, but it also can symbolize burdens. That resonated immediately... carrying too many problems on my shoulders, too many responsibilities, clinging to emotions instead of expressing them and releasing them.
So profound... at this juncture of my life, I am thinking about these burdens, about letting go of emotional baggage, about the "things" that I've held on to for so long. 
A few things happened in my most innermost thoughts... more to do with people who I feel responsible for holding up, helping out, opinions I keep to myself, words not expressed...
And it was that dream that made me confront those thoughts, those plans, those unexpressed desires and pent up rage... and as I drove home from an acupuncture treatment, the words spilled out of my mouth. 
"That's the LAST STRAW!"
In my mind's eye was an image of a camel, standing in the desert, the heat of the sun radiating behind him, the blue sky around him. 
As with any composition, I start with a simple pencil drawing... and let my imagination go... let the impulse be the action... 
I keep junk mail, calendars, postcards, business cards, greeting cards, and other paper ephemera around. I use paper to create my compositions. 
After the pencil drawing, I began to paint. Just a bit... and began collecting, from boxes of paper, an assortment of photographs. Could be Drew Barrymore's pic on a Vanity Fair fly card, or a pic of someone's baby from a Christmas card... perhaps a photo of me, a greeting card's puppy dog or cartoon...a campaign postcard's featured candidate... and eureka, an enormous pile of photos cut into little squares. I used the squares to create the body of the camel. I created a coating mixed with some acrylic paint to soften the photos; some lighter, some darker, all a little hazy... and outlined the camel with black. 

What is the meaning of the people as camel? Well, they symbolize the past, the ghosts and traumas the myriad of experiences. They are not literal.
The background was also improvised, and became a sort-of tapestry / oriental rug / geometric design. 
I created it with squares, triangles, circles and flower designs.
 Junk mail, patterns, textures... from a huge variety of papers I've been hoarding.
As you see in the photos, my camel is hairy... furry? Made from variegated yarn in beige and brown tones, cut with tiny scissors and flung on a sticky surface.

 I added some rough ribbon tot he composition for a bridle, and created some tassels from yarn, ribbon and beads, added chains, bells and other decorative touches. 

Along the bottom are desert roses, also made from paper, which are a bit dimensional. These flowers are native to countries where camels are used as beasts of burden.

You may wonder why I do not attach large files or hi-res photos to these blogs. 
I have a reason. 
I have seen my work reproduced as prints at art fairs, and for sale as designs for other commercial products.
The process of creating is the necessity for me. Once I create a piece,
I no longer need to own it. I work out my issues and have all the self-talk while I am in the studio.
  After many weeks, I am done. This is truly a mixed-media work, a paper mosaic, a tapestry, a dream realized. A slight departure from 15+ years of paper mosaic portraits!
The camel is for sale, it is 36" high x 48" wide, on canvas. Please contact me if you are interested in owning this unusual work of art.