Category Archives: Collage

Staying in the Moment: Loving Collage

Collage and mixed media

Anima: Collage and mixed media by Kartika

A dinged up piece of cardboard that’s been discolored by the elements can ignite a creative spark in me as easily as looking at another artist’s work or hearing a song that sends chills up my spine.
Quote by Baby Smith from Masters of Collage – collage, mixed media artist

It’s Saturday morning – Joy! I will soon be on my way to the “Flying Leap Art Studio.” This is my routine – at the end of my work week, the rejuvenation of my artist begins with a day making collage and allowing myself to relax into the energizing spaciousness of the right side of my brain. I will work with others, usually a group of like minded women who “get it”, who are on the same page and whose sanity and sense of being right with the word depends on being able to be in the present moment – being in the space of creativity.

Creativity is really about being in the moment with the process. It’s about allowing ourselves to become submerged, willing to be present, fine with spontaneity, flexible, open to change, able to take risks, be silly sometimes, and have fun while being serious.

I found a wonderful book on collage, “Masters of Collage” by Lark Crafts. It’s a visual delight and inspiration to artists of all mediums. Perusing this book makes me fall even more in love with collage art. This medium has unlimited possibilities, offering us an immense arena in which to play, explore, and discover what we love. Mixed media artists are engaged in the world of objects, always looking for interesting, sometimes old and rusty things, things to recycle in order to create the new and beautiful. Collage and mixed media is all about arranging and rearranging objects and images, training ourselves to see things differently, urging us to experiment with shape and color, inviting us to explore and play with simple and mundane objects.
Master of Collage by Lark Crafts

Compared to other art forms, collage seems a democratic and unthreatening medium. It requires few tools or supplies and practically anyone with an appreciation for found objects and a love a composition can do it. And yet, the process of creating a collage is not quite as simple as it seems.
– Randel Plowman, Curator

Mixed media collage by Kartika

Mixed media collage by Kartika

Collage like other art forms helps us discover ourselves, our inner landscape, what we love, what we fear, and what we find important. We are inspired to discover our archetypes and symbols. We begin to find our thumbprint, or unique signature. What colors do we consistently choose to be a part of our palette? Do we plan ahead or follow our instincts in the moment? Do we like to work alone or with others? Do we find ourselves blocked by fear of failure? The process of self-discovery is endless.

Collage and mixed media by Kartika

Collage and mixed media by Kartika

Learning to see – to become observant – is the greatest lesson an artist can learn. Working in the collage form has sharpened my perceptions of the world outside my studio.
Quote by Mitzi Trachtenberg from Masters of Collage – collage, mixed media artist

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Happy New Year: A Meditation on Time

Collage - Time
Collage: “Time” by Kartika

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay


Happy New Year

It’s time to get clear on my intentions for this New Year. My big brother has offered me some wise words about time. Here it is: Time can be our friend or our enemy depending on how we use it. If we think it is too late to make positive changes, to learn something new, to take on a challenge, and we do nothing, time is not our friend. If we think we are too old or too busy to learn to take pictures or study French, or to start painting or to learn to dance, we let time slip away from us.

Time flies and it is unrelenting, out of our control, leading us into dark and scary places where we are forced to confront demons and battle with the physical world.

If we think it is too late to change, we make the choice to do nothing, and time bears little fruit. If we see time merely as the grim reaper (and, yes it is that too), only as a river of change leading to our ultimate disintegration and demise, it is easy to resent it, to lament its brutal ways. We cannot control it and certainly cannot stop it. As the wise say, “the only constant is change.” Every day offers proof that time can take away things we love, people we depend upon, what we hold most dear.

And so, my intention for the New Year is to remind myself that each moment in time counts and offers opportunities to discover my amazing potential, to express myself in meaningful ways, and to share my gifts with the world – to make time my friend. I may not have the power to stop time from aging my body, from wreaking its challenging havoc that seems chaotic, but is in fact, orderly. I can use it to become wiser, more creative, and more soulful, and try to dance with it, to embrace it as an ally.

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Collage Mandalas

Collage Mandala by Kartika

Collage Mandala by Kartika

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation.”

Carl Jung

Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by the mandala in its various forms of artistic and symbolic expression.

But, I was afraid to create my own mandalas because I have little patience for measuring and precision in art making, and so many of the mandalas I admired in the traditional Indian and other Eastern styles are a form of sacred geometry where the angles are mathematically precise.

The Tibetan mandala painting below is an example of this deeply symbolic and complex form of sacred art, often used as a tool for meditation. The mandala in Eastern culture is symbolic – the circle is a symbol of the eternity of the cosmos and the square is a symbol of the earth or of the man-made world. In Sanskrit, the mandala literally means circle and center.

Tibetan Thangka Painting

Tibetan Thangka Painting

However, I was drawn to creating my own simple versions of collage mandalas, and decided to refuse to intimidated (okay perhaps a bit) by masters of the form worldwide. As I read more about this art form, and see the endless ways the circle is used symbolically in all cultures over the world, the possibilities and interpretations are endless.

Mandala Collage by Kartika

Mandala Collage by Kartika

The sacred circle

A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.
Maynard James Keenan

Carl Jung became deeply involved with the mandalas as a way to connect with the unconscious and to engage with the universal archetypes that are are the basis of all levels of Self. He had patients create mandalas as a tool for self-understanding and healing.

Currently there is a re-awakening of mandala making – people are realizing that anyone can draw a circle and begin the process of creating a personal mythology that links them to spirit and self understanding. We have been inspired by the traditions of mandala-making and are finding our own ways to create beautiful expressions of the sacred circle.

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Art Journal Therapy: Dealing with Pain

Cut
COLLAGE: CUT

I created these pages in my art journal during the painful breakup of a relationship. During this period, I used collage and writing in my journals as a way to move past grieving. I understood that artists have an opportunity to deal with their demons by turning to the creative process – so, I would show up at my art collage group with a broken heart and leave with a sense of relief, as if some part of the wounded me had started to heal.

Having done some work on dealing with emotional pain, I realized denial would not be an option for me. I was hurting, and pretending otherwise wouldn’t change that. However, expressing myself in a way that was beautiful to me and reflected my honest experience could have a transformational power. It’s as if the energy of grief can be redirected and used as fuel for self-awareness and ultimately used to heal the heart. It doesn’t happen instantly or even by itself, but it can be a powerful part of the process of moving forward. And only by going through the suffering, and that process can be facilitated by the simplest forms of creative expression, can we re-emerge as somehow more complete, more compassionate, and more human.

The connection between pain and art is undeniable – human beings have throughout time expressed their emotional, mental, and spiritual despair through some form of artistic expression, whether it’s by singing the Blues, writing songs about love lost, creating fiction that tells stories of the trails and tribulations of the human condition, or by putting onto canvas the extreme difficulties of inner and outer life. And so while it is true that suffering and pain are inevitable in life, there are endless choices we have on how to deal with them. I choose to go to my art journal, drink lattes and watch streaming Netfix.

One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Even in the midst of extreme physical pain and emotional disappointment, she was able to develop her work and become one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Her paintings bring tears to my eyes.

two fridas
She has said,

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
– Frida Kahlo

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Art Journal Pages…

Sometimes I ask myself why I feel so enlivened and connected when I sit down with one of my my art journals – my inner critic starts to harp and nag, telling me I’m just being a bit silly, dabbling around with glue and paper, paint and scissors. Real artists are busy perfecting their craft, my critic chimes in – they are honing the skills that allow them to create real art. But, deep inside I know that is not my truth because my journals connect me to my journey, to that spark inside that can become a bit dim doing real life. “To thine own self be true,” is an adage I try to live by. And of all of the millions of other people who are telling their stories in their art journals, who sit down to enter bits and pieces of themselves in their personal diaries of images, words, and colors, not one of them will ever create a page exactly like one of my pages. So just as each snowflake is a unique expression, every art journal page is a one-of-a-kind expression, like a thumbprint or the structure of a budding flower.

Kartika

My art journal – Dream

My Art Journal – Ananda Mayi Ma
My art journal – Questions

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