Friday, March 13, 2015


A map of some special place in my life? 

 Recently, the editors of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine challenged readers with this prompt.  I thought: what a great idea. My next thought: what better place to map than my studio. While working on this project, I was reminded that creating artwork gives you the chance to do things over. I also could see where my mind wandered as I worked. My map turned into an exploration of the many layers of life that we all experience.

A mosaic of the parts of my studio

I took photos of all parts of my studio, reduced them to contact sheet images, cut them out and arranged them on a page. I attached cording leading from the whole studio shot at the bottom to my various interests that you could find there, including calligraphy, book arts, writing, watercolors, mixed media, and needlework. Okay, that turned into a confusing splatter of photos.

I whitewashed the entire page with gesso, let that dry, took a graphite pencil and drew over the images. Not quite there yet.

I added one of my favorite colors in acrylic -- a mix of Titan Buff, yellow, and Burnt Sienna --over parts of the page. Not quite there yet either.

I attached a photo of me near the bottom, but I wasn't satisfied.

So I started over with another attempt using paint rag strips, small photos and an acrylic paint marker.

 I glued more pieces of paint rags over that and added words on the page. I felt frustration that my ideas were not clear and my image of my studio was getting lost. What happened to the 'map'? Was I adding too many layers, not knowing when to stop? What was I really trying to say?

So I tried again. This time I imagined my studio room and what has been in this place before, all the layers that built up to create what is there today. We have transformed this room several times since we moved to this house. It has been my office, our son's nursery, and back to my studio. But even before that, the land was a cattle ranch, a home to the Miwok and Ohlone, and a resting place for dinosaurs and ocean shells. 

I like the layers that can be found in just one small place. I am still working on this project. Sketches are a great way to think through an idea, whether or not they become finished work. I don't plan to submit these pieces to the readers' challenge, but I know I have pushed myself into new directions.

What lies beneath the surface of a favorite place of yours?

Check out these links to two magazine publishers who offer reader challenges:

Mosaics such as my studio mosaic can be made at


  1. This is fascinating. I love the way your viewpoint broadened beyond your own timeline as you reflected on this. Juxtaposed with this broad sweep of time, it is riveting to to see the photograph of you, with your own explosion of artistic expression, as today's part of this land's long history. The land I live on was once at the swampy edge of a Connecticut farm, and before that, Indian territory, I guess. I don't know too much. I'm sure I could find out.

  2. Thank you for reading this post. It was thought-provoking to think of what had been here before us. Now I want to know more!


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