Tag 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


Filed under Archetypes and Symbols, Collage, Mixed Media Art, Topics I Love

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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Saturdays At the Flying Leap Art Studio in Fairfield Iowa

My Collage

There is no must in art because art is free.
Wassily Kandinsky

A healing Saturday ritual

Every Saturday morning, I grab my caramel latte at Fairfield’s Cafe Paradiso (where Oprah had coffee during her tour of our little town), where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and the caramel flavor is organic and locally made, and I walk across the street and enter a building where I climb the stairs to a space of several rooms dedicated to art. In the studio, I meet with my group led by a wonderful  artist, Donna Colby, and  sit at one end of a large folding table – my reserved spot because art is my religion and I never miss church on Saturday. I will stay there from 10:30 to between 3 and 5.

I grab my favorite magazines, gather my paper, glue stick, scissors, and  I unpack my little bag of things I bring from home – lately it’s my art stamps and ink. I say hi to the group, to members of my tribe in my community.

I feel the coffee taking effect and my brain starts to shift – maybe it’s the alpha waves that are supposedly stimulated by the brain when we are being creative. The tension in my mind from the work week shuts up for while. The dictates of time begins to disappear. I start to feel myself again and may even turn of my cell phone.

Permission to take a flying leap

Donna is my mentor who gives me permission to express my vision. My group is most often all women, but when a guy comes, he is usually great and probably in his creative feminine, so he’s one of us. In making art together we are comrades and kindred spirits, wrestling with our blocked creative selves to become free. Some of us are painting, some drawing – we are doing our own thing. We remind ourselves we are our harshest critics, we are sometimes our worst enemies, but sometimes it just takes the gentleness of a supportive and loving group of pilgrims to ease our way toward becoming our best selves and unleashing the muse within.

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Creating Collage Art Journals: Discover Your Personal Mythology

“The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of ‘Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it’s myself.’”

Joseph Cambell

What draws us to the images we choose for our art work?

Symbols help us to interpret our personal reality, explain the mystery of the cosmos, and help us gain insight into ourselves. All religions and cultures abound with symbols that speak to our beliefs and cosmology.

When making a collage, I notice  I keep finding and choosing to use certain symbols over and over again. Even though I’m not always conscious of why I choose these images, I trust they are meaningful on a deeper level. For example, I frequently draw or use circles, spirals, birds, hands, feet, angels, portals, archetypal wise women, vessels, and a variety of animals. And, I’ve come to see how they relate to my personal mythology. They have become part of my artistic vocabulary. Then I start to investigate what these symbols mean universally as well as how they relate to me personally.

Symbols allow the soul to speak to us directly.

The creation of an art collage from the soul is an inner journey that allows your soul to speak to you. Your soul’s voice can be heard through the images, feelings and insights that surface… (Kathleen Carrillo)

The more aware I become of the symbols I find myself consistently drawn to, and the more I incorporate these images into my art journals and other art works, the more I discover interesting things about my psyche, and the more interesting my art becomes. And, that is what I’m going for.


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Am I an Artist Wannabe?

I am a fraud in a field where absolute truth and honesty are required for any modicum of success. And so, I often stay up past ten or eleven and sitting on a chair in front of the easel purchased on e-bay even before my decision to embark on formal but actually informal training, I stare at my board, gesso-ed and painted, with scraps of cut paper, faces of skulls, photos of tubes of lipstick, words, lightly glued (still in process). I stare, worrying that I suck and that I am a wanna-be, and fuck the “process only” preachers who are adamant that product is not where it’s at, while they stick cool looking product on the pages of their books that claim process is the only thing that matters. And sometimes when in process, I feel that flow, that sugary rush of time suspended, and that light headed no-fly zone when I know that picture of the Goth girl is perfect for that spot directly underneath the orange torn paper in the right corner. I just know it and all is well.

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Exausted by Art Continued…

It started out simply, when two years ago while waling past a local art gallery, a friend pulled me in to the art studio and asked me to sit down and start decorating paper mask molds to be auctioned as an art gallery fund-raiser. I had not glued much since kindergarten, when I typically threw my own attempts at making flowers look like flowers across rooms. Yet while mask-making, it seemed the gluing and painting process became instantly addictive, and the right brainwave activity leading to suspension of time and space, had the profound effect of creating a yearning for a repeat experience of the out-of-the-box mode of operating, leading to a discussion with the fully-credentialed- art-gallery-owner-and-art-instructor-par-excellence, who recommended continuing art education at his gallery/studio on a regular basis to enliven that field where the creative so easily go and, in some cases, never return. And now, just a few weeks into the exploration of this new terrain, with a few collages under my belt, and lots of time spent with Dick Blick and a designated art studio on my premises, I am exhausted by the demands of the creative life and the expectations I have put upon myself to be “an artist.” There – I have finally uttered the A-word and now must suffer under the mantle of expectation, realization that I know nothing about art, and do not know anything about making it other than cutting out magazine pictures and pasting them on Masonite.

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