8”x10” stonehenge paper, gelatin print using foam plates, foam plate relief, gold pen ink and coloured pencil aka Mixed Media.
As some of you may already know, I now volunteer at a local nursing home. Through less than happy circumstance, I found myself visiting weekly, and got to know many of the residents, and made a friend whom I now visit weekly. All of this was formalized as ‘volunteer’ about a month ago, so both my husband and I have little magnetic badges to wear, and my dog, just by being a dog, serves up a dish of ‘pet’ therapy.
Volunteers are expected to do work that is in keeping with their interests and skills, and for my husband, that meant an outing to a local hockey game! Together, we rode a bus through the town that took us to see all the best Christmas lights, and now I’m assisting with an Art Therapy Program, and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve ever had. We’re still laughing about how doing something you love could be ‘volunteering’.
I love seeing the art that these people do, and sharing their joys and accomplishments. I love even better, when, one on one, someone shares details of their life with me. It’s especially wonderful to see them chatting and socializing with one another during the session, and I get to share the joy by being a part of the group.
My latest gelatin print is directly inspired by these experiences. The gelatin print was from a batch I created for my ‘year of the snake’ submission, but it had some strong compositional elements, so I held it aside for further work. The ‘beautiful hand’ came up, and I immediately associated it with the residents and the thrill of creation. Mostly, it is one man’s beautiful hand. He is severely disabled and can barely hold a pencil. The other artists ‘assist’ his sketches, but I just help get a grip on the pencil colour of his choice and hold the sketchbook in front of him. Then, for a few brief moments, he draws the pencil across the page, vertically or horizontally with a look of rapture on his face. It is fleeting, but it reminds me of the pure sensuality of pulling colour across the page when I am immersed in my own art, and he deserves to have a few lines on the page to call his own, entirely by his own hand.
There are other wonders, as is the lady who asked for colours to ‘draw angels’, and draw angels she did, in bold solid strokes with strong stout wings and glowing smiles, coloured in yellow and pink and blue. Powerful angels with infectious smiles.
And the man who plays piano. He is such fun, a great conversationalist, and when he draws, he dabs and dashes and ad libs on the page, resulting in a very lively sketch filled with detail. His piano playing is very much like that too.
And then there is Mr. C. During the first session, a brief look at his sketchbook told me that he had been a professional artist throughout his life, so already, I felt honoured to be in his presence. But this week, I found out (from the lady who draws angels) that he had won an OSCAR, you know, that ugly but much sought after gold statue that involves a star studded event filled with the rich and famous. Now I feel like ought to bow before him, as this Oscar was award for talent and innovation. It’s a privilege to stand beside a man like that.
You may wonder why I am being coy about names, but search engines are overly powerful at pulling together bits of information. And, I’ve come to realize there are degrees of ‘public’ information. There is a large difference between telling a stranger on a train about some private moment of your life and having it tattooed on your forehead to be seen by all each and everyday. In the same way, a blog entry can be a bit like telling a stranger on a train, but with search engines, it can morph into ‘tattooed on my forehead’ SO in order to get back to the ‘stranger on a train’ version of public broadcast, I’m using images. So if you want to see who the Oscar winner is, just check out the doodle diary, and google his name. There’s even a video interview. And for those outside of Canada, his film was and still is quite well known, and in the history of fill is still cited as a technical game-changer for its time.
click to enlarge, and on the left you can read about a very accomplished resident I have the privilege of working with (I’m being careful about naming names as searchable text to preserve some privacy, that’s why I’ll never tell you which ‘home’ I volunteer for)