Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dark is hard

I did these pages a few years ago - when a few of us went around to Noela's for a play day. In this instance she had us splashing black ink onto big pages with brooms and dripping it on and generally just going for it. That's me making them in the last photo on this post...

I rediscovered the pages about 6 months ago and decided to do something with them. I found some words that seemed to match them, coloured in a bit here and there with red, cut them up and then glued them together to make book pages. I even made some covers.

And then the book sat there, for about 5 months, waiting to be stitched.  I picked it up again last week thinking I would just start stitching and found that I couldn't.

Perhaps the words were too raw - they start with "when you lose someone you love". And as I picked up the pages and turned them, the dark energy of them almost overwhelmed me. I hardly wanted to hold them let alone work on them. I kept saying to myself "I have to soften this, I have to soften this".

So I have been trying to, and experimenting with a few things. In  a way I think I am trying to take some of the hurt away that the marks seem to express, and just let the words speak their gentle truth.

I tried wrapping each page in another page of tracing paper. I thought about gluing the tracing paper onto the pages muting them and their message. I laid some Japanese tissue paper over them wondering if that would hide some of the sadness and grief within it. I tried making soft curvy and gentle marks into the tracing paper to counteract the darkness of the pages.

I'm not sure it will be possible to soften it sufficiently, and I'm not sure I will actually make this book.

It has been quite an intriguing process to go through - I had no idea when I picked it up thinking "that's a little UFO* I can get on with" that I would be faced with this raw energy that made me back away. I've never before felt that I can't complete a project because of how it makes me feel. So I'll wait and see what happens next.

Until another day perhaps.

*UFO = un finished object


  1. That's incredible. There must be some deep dark energy needing to be exorcising - maybe just a heavy wash of white or lavender paint over the pages to heal and mend the energy - otherwise a little bonfire :) XX

  2. I love black, white and red together. Such a classic color combo. However, the dark energy can be seen even over here. For me, it's the bit of brown that appears on a few pages that somehow stifles things. I like Noela's suggestions. Or, perhaps, before resorting to a bonfire, you might try cropping the pages again...smaller focus = less dark energy? Just a thought. Or you could send them my way....

  3. I read an entry in Alisa Golden's blog 'Making Handmade Books' the other day: http://makinghandmadebooks.blogspot.com.es/2012/06/responding-to-personal-and-painful.html

    I think it has a lot to do with your conflict, it might interest you. By the way, I love the intensity and somewhat chaotic sobriety of this book of yours.

  4. What a powerful piece this is. More power perhaps than anything you have made?

  5. Powerful post. It's amazing to me how our art can affect us. I like both the above suggestions. Light wash and resizing. The original is beautiful.

  6. Wow, this is just fascinating, that simple marks on paper can carry such emotion and so strongly affect their maker. I'd say the intensity of your reaction means this piece needs to keep going, even if that means setting it aside until some aspect of the process that needs to happen behind the scenes as it were is further along...but I do like the idea of retaining some of the darkness, which is, after all, essential to all things. Perhaps allowing it to fade naturally (or via some creative intervention!), rather than attempting to cover it up? I'm eager to see where this piece takes you next. All the best to you and B!

  7. Perhaps muting those pages will be a cathartic exercise. It will allow you to put the hurt expressed in the work behind you. At the time I expect you really needed to do this, but now it's time to move on. I'm with Noela, bite the bullet and put a whitewash over the pages, they would then lend themselves to a little contrasting stitching perhaps?

  8. Actually I can see why those pages are so difficult for you to work into. Not your style is the easy answer but I actually think it is deeper than that. I like to think there is no such thing as 'our style' as it is good to play and dally outside the square but in this instance there is something halting you. Maybe just tie the pages together with barbed wire and don't revisit it.

  9. Fiona, don't they say for everything there 'is a time'? Lots of sound advice here from people who know you personally but I think this piece has got to wait its turn until you really know what you want to do with it. That may well be destroying it or finishing it but whatever the outcome, it has to be on your terms. Your connection to these pages obviously unsettles you but I do almost envy you that intensity of feeling about them.

  10. Thanks for the suggestions N - I'm not sure about the need for exorcism tho! It seems to be more about my response to imagery and words given the past few weeks...I'll see what I do with them; the bonfire idea appeals!

    Hi J - I'm not surprised you can feel the energy all the way over there! I am still pondering what to do next...will take my time and be led. A few options emerging for sure!

    What a lovely way of putting it EM - chaotic sobriety! It feels a bit darker than that at the moment - altho when I made the pages that description was perfectly apt.

    Hi Leslie - yes, way too much power for me right now. It's well beyond my usual style, but that didn't worry me when I first made it. Now the messages speak at high volumes!

    Thanks Diane - I am grateful for all the suggestions and will hopefully soon discover the best option. It has amazed me how the piece itself can affect me. Go well.

    Thanks G/TT - I too am amazed at its power and my response to it. Perhaps you are right and that it is a sign to keep working my way through 'it'. The darkness didn't worry me before - now it almost physically hurts. Intriguing.

    Thanks Jo - the whitewash idea with hints of things might be an option. I think the past few weeks have just left me extra exposed to life and death and loss; so maybe time will also settle my response.

    Oh Susan this suggestions appeals so much! I know they are not exactly 'me' but I felt fine in the making and was happy with where they had gotten to - just a few stitches needed. Then kapow! They might just need to sit with a "danger do not enter' sign on them for a bit...the barbed wire would be perfect.

    Thanks Lesley I think you are right about things having their time, and this piece might just need a bit of a gap between the past few weeks and wherever it needs to be for me to deal with it better. Or not - it may never be finished and that might be it's journey. I am surprised by the response - it was almost physical - so I guess I need to pay attention to whatever it is... thanks again.

  11. I think what I find most intriguing about these pages is the story behind them and the process that you are - still - undergoing (as painful and disconcerting though it is). This brings me back to your latest 'Thursday Thoughts', and the importance of the 'weaving' stage (which is where you seem to be with these pages at the moment)... While a book's story isn't necessarily seen/known by the reader, it is certainly sensed, and enriches it by adding a unique layer.

    There have been so many interesting suggestions as to where you might go next with these pages, so I thought I'd share what came to my mind as well. I do like the idea of softening the intense energy somehow, in hopes of 'healing' the pain that ignited it, but I might consider creating windows within some kind of semi-transparent overlay. The original emotions would thus not be completely obscured, but merely lessened (as it seems the difficult feelings are such an essential ingredient of these pages).

    It's brave - and generous - of you to share the story of your pages. In time, I'm sure you will find the 'right' ending...

  12. I think it would be hard to pick up something dark like this 5 months later.. your emotions- feelings- whatever-- may have changed so much from 5 months ago and now you do not have the same emotions-- hence the difficulty.

  13. Hi Lisa - thanks for your thoughtful response to this piece and this post. Softening somehow is definitely an option and the transparent windows offer all that you suggest. Hinting, but not forgetting or denying.

    Thanks Donna - yes the distance in time between the beginning and the doing has made a huge difference. It didn't seem so dark when I began it...but now it does. I might have to wait until my own bit of dark passes...

  14. Very understandable, Fiona, and I can see why you want to soften the impact. Maybe just back off and leave them for a while and if you can't find a way to rework the pages, and you don't feel like the bonfire, perhaps give them to someone else to have a go.

  15. Thanks Carol - I think I'll back off for now and reacquaint myself with them at alter date. Must admit the bonfires still intrigues...

  16. wow ... that's pretty powerful F. even with the images i can feel the dark energy coming thru. i feel quite a bit of rage and hysteria in the movement of the paint. and that first line, kinda punched me in the heart a bit.


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