Have you ever been drawn to something dusty, old and forgotten? Treasures are all around us, often found in the most unexpected places. It takes courage to challenge assumptions and definitions of what things are.. and imagine what they could be.
Fifteen years ago, I had just graduated from college - with no money to spend on art supplies. All I had was a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Even though I didn't have much, I was compelled to create. I went through every junk drawer in the house, looking for materials to use. I worked as a waitress in the evenings, but I would spend every other minute at the dining room table, with the simplest supplies, hoping and praying that the old adage was true: "It's not what you have, it's how you use it."
I tore through the garage, finding piles of old comic books to tear up. I cut up old credit cards and made them into tangrams. I unspooled cassette tapes and glued them down in crazy, curly piles. Most days I would walk to the library to pour over the fine art books, hoping the greats would whisper their secrets to me.
Even though everyone thought I was crazy, I just knew if I kept at it a good idea would come. But I think the most important lesson was this: you're not waiting for one good idea. You have to take chances and try a million different things. You have to chase it.
One day in the back of an old bookstore I found a pile of faded music scores and piano books. As I flipped through the pages I could see the music dance. All these dots and lines and squiggles, with the right eyes and the right hands, made the famous music I remembered. Its a magical thing, music. I imagined an angel rising from the sheet with a trumpet in her hand. I saw the wind billowing her skirt in marvelous, turbulent flows. The wings would be the greatest of all, with the feathers reimagined as tufts of hanging notes.
To make this piece I first drew out the angel. Next I figured out how many "lines" of music I would have to work with. The scale is tricky because the paper is so delicate. If I use too much glue it just disentigrates, so I have to get it right the first time. I carefully cut the paper with scissors and gently wet the lines to allow them to gracefully undulate. I use only characters from the sheet music, cut out with great precision. There is no paint or drawing of any kind, just the simple crumbing sheet music, rearranged and lightly glued on a paper base. In real life there is a slight 3d effect as the lines of music cast small shadows on the page. It really comes to life.
When the angel was completed, I mounted it in a custom gold-leaf frame and presented it as a gift to my favorite professor - the man who taught me what an aria was.
Many years have passed since that time, and I've been honored to work as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers all over the world. I consider myself the luckiest person to create art people enjoy. But anyone can do it if they put their heart, mind, and hands to work.
There is always room to find unexpected beauty. There is always a world in a world waiting to be explored. I hope this post inspires someone who needs to hear it. You have enough, you are enough, you just have to grab your scissors and get to it.