Another blogger has a Little Bad Muse, who looks exactly like Britney Spears throwing a major temper tantrum. She blames the Little Bad Muse for pestering her into completing a project, or making her start a new project when she has others in the throes of completion. (But, of course, not in the interesting parts—just when you’re two-thirds of the way through the second sleeve, or the second sock, where it’s an agony of concentration and measuring to ensure that they come out reasonably symmetrical.)
I, on the other hand, have a Big Bad Muse who came in and threw me over his shoulder and dragged me off to the garage. Initially when I sat down to write this post, I was going to talk about how she slunk up to the glue table, then perched there with the slit of her evening dress sliding up over her hip and began whispering of glue and cardstock and paint. (And, yes, I know I just switched genders. Bear with me until the next paragraph.)
(Go.) And then I realized that no, my muse is fungible. He’s like one of those women in a Nagle litho, with the high cheekbones and heart-shaped face, lithe and whippy. Could be a small-breasted woman with lean hips. Could be a boyish man, trim and elegant. With hair pulled back in a braid long enough to sit on, you can’t really tell.
This isn’t Terpsichore. Terpsichore is an actual meat puppet here in everybody’s world. I could take you over to her, you could shake her hand, and she’d be warm and solid with bones. The Big Bad Muse is here in my world, Harvey’s drinking partner.
And that’s how her evening dress changes to a suit somewhere between Edwardian morning dress and a 30’s Harlem jazz artist’s tux—-the coat is knee-length and flowing, cutaway and tailored to within an inch of its life. Skin doesn’t fit this well. His braid flows like a snake, driven by its own internal wind. Her boots have high heels, sometimes spiked and sometimes the solid square heel or banana heel of cowboy boots, with chains around his left instep.
So for the past couple of nights, when I’ve sat down at the computer and put my hands on the keys, the Big Bad Muse has crashed through the door and grabbed my arm/stroked my cheek/lifted my hand like a cookie still hot from the oven and we’ve ended up in the garage, playing with ATC’s.
That is, artist’s trading cards. I’ve been fascinated with them for a couple of years. The premise is that they are a uniform size—2.5 by 3.5 inches, and sturdy enough not to bend. After that, it’s anything goes—but try to keep them fairly flat. Like trading cards—if you want to make one of polymer clay, go for it—but don’t add a huge 3-D sculpture on top of it. And they’re traded, not sold. You sign the back, add a contact e-mail, and swap with other aficionados.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of collage, and rubberstamping. Trouble is, when I do collage, I’m more interested in layers of juxtaposed images on a largish scale, and I don’t want to concern myself with the niceties of using pictures of someone else’s art—which really rather defeats the purpose of an ATC, in my mind. It’s too much like slapping a happy face sticker on a bit of cardstock, then signing the back. Ok, you found a little picture of Warhol’s Monroe silkscreen and put it on a card. This is your art how, precisely???
So many folks use vintage photos, and then add ephemera and rubber stamps, and what not to make art. Not dissing this in the least; I find the effect charming. However (and you knew this was coming, right?) when everyone uses the same techniques, and shops at the same time, you get a lot of the same elements all together, and you begin to get a uniformity in what’s being turned out. And shoo, the sheer amount of buckage it’s possible to lay out for the various inks, and embossing powders, and the stamps themselves, and the sheets of figures and animals and parts—arms and legs and wings—and the papers and where do you PUT all this stuff so you can keep it nice and clean and unwrinkled—yet FIND it when you need it?
So I’ve been seriously stuck. Compounding the issue, I’m not naturally talented at visual flat art. About the only thing I reliably draw are erroneous conclusions. I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed to ATC lists without ever posting more than, “Hi, I’m Spike.”
However, since I received a metric boatload of cardstock for Christmas/Adverb, I felt like I ought to use it. And there’s only so many bubble paper matchboxes (for holding pen nibs and cartridges, of course) one can really use. So I poked around again . . .
And holy cow, there’s a bunch of fabric ATC groups. And some small groups that have artists who use definitely different media to do their thing, and aren’t doing work that reminds me of fifties cookbooks, where you open several cans of this and that, and a box of something else, stir and heat and serve. (Tastes like green bean casserole and pumpkin pudding. Not bad, but not undertaken with care, either.)
So I joined up, with hope triumphing over experience (“Hi, I’m Spike.”) and now it looks like the ice has broken, and I’ve found my flat art voice. I see the sets that I’ve put together over the last couple of weeks, and they have a certain homogeneity about them; they were definitely put together by one pair of hands, one mind. I’ll post pics tomorrow showing them in chronological order. The first set looks designed by committee, the others, well. You’ll see.