Saturday, March 27, 2010
Perhaps I can explain...
Friends and readers who are not battling the riptide of mixed-media obsession may not understand how I feel about paper. It started with end-rolls of newsprint and what we used to call "shirt" cardboard, the shape-giving pieces that Royal Laundry included with every clean shirt they delivered.
I didn't just draw on the stuff, I shaped it into Valentines, dimensional Easter cards, faux fireworks, paper bag puppets, holiday place cards and flowers. Following my mother's example, I learned to save scraps and cut images from magazines. I spent my allowance on rolls of giftwrap.
Taking inspiration recently from the Liberty of London products created for Target stores, I started looking for floral scrapbook paper that would simulate their multi-colored, random flower prints, without (yet) finding any. It becomes a fox-and-hounds world when the scent of new paper is in the air and as my tracking failed to expose anything that matched my vision, I thought I would try to design my own. It has been years since I worked on glossy cardstock, having developed a style that suits me with non-glossy surfaces and Prismacolor pencils. Into the boxes and drawers I ventured to see what remained of once-plentiful white glossy stock that could be turned into photocopy-able marker-colored sheets of pattern and image.
Once upon a time, the Kelly Paper store in Pasadena (and elsewhere, I think) allowed the taking of free samples and I retained a supply of those, along with purchased cardstock which had begun to yellow around the edges. Deep and vivid Pantone shades would hide that, I thought. What I did not remember, or factor in, was the fact that permanent drawing pens may be permanent with water-based mediums but run with alcohol-based markers. The result is first samples with a bit of smudge darkening, but I can live with that. My elderly Tria pens have stayed miraculously juicy. They have been standing in their wooden storage boxes for well more than 10 years and, with a couple exceptions, did everything I needed them to do.
I discovered brand new fun with supplies I kept on hand because (a) who in this line of work (I use the term loosely) can throw away paper? and (b) the allure of drawing and coloring in the shapes will never diminish. So far I have not reproduced anything close to the Liberty look that started this and it doesn't matter. I have a cramp at the base of my thumb that, for a few minutes after I've put the pen down, runs part-way up my arm AND I have vivid, edge-to-edge filled sheets that, as color copies, will become backgrounds, envelopes, gifts and reminders that what some might call hoarding - I call it saving - has unimagined payoffs.
My good fortune is no one close by to scowl and ask (surely the answer is evident), "do you really need ALL that paper?" Yes, today I need all that paper and a bit more, which would fill in the gaps of weight, texture, size, color, pattern and purpose. Appearances to the contrary, a containerized life wherein rest font catalogs, deconstructed cereal boxes and origami squares (whether crumpled, dog-eared, faded or fresh) is not the second or third sign of mental apocalypse, it is a benchmark of foresight and thrift. It is what I know and what I do. It is me.