I discovered early on that I had things to say with color and shapes also. As Ms. O'Keeffe simply said, "...things I couldn't say any other way...things I had no words for." That's exactly how I've always felt, so I guess I have been an artist since I hit the planet -- and I come by it honestly. I am a 4th generation artist just like my Mom, Joan; her mother, my grandmother, Gertrude; and her mother, my great-grandmother, Lily. What choice did I have, really? . . . So, I created art.
I am an unconventionally educated artist, that is, self taught by hours of observing Mother Nature. As I let the instinctual intelligence of nature's arrangement speak to me, I explored a world of visual language that resonated with my interest in Native American culture. I listened to the whispers my Father's ancestors who settled along the banks of the Oconoluftee River in Cherokee.
I endeavored to interpret this visual language with an array of crayons, pastels, colored pencils, and finally, PAINT! The quick slather of paint made me happy (but not my Mom, when I used the walls as canvas. ( That is another story).
But that wasn't enough. I was searching for something special that I could see in my mind's eye, but could not articulate with words or paint, or any other expression at that time. Paint on canvas became frustrating. Complete visual expression eluded me.
As trite as it sounds, I suppose all artists are trying to find themselves -- that's why they create art -- to find the GOLD of their SPIRIT...to find the truest and simplest, and most beautiful space that lies at the core of the human heart.
My goal is to bring that space into the physical world and express that essence -- to share with others as art..."securing the GOLD of the SPIRIT" and to remind all people that they have a heart of gold.
So, was I finding myself? Who knows? I did find out that visual language (expression) is valuable because it is a slice of truth congealed/crystallized much the way gold and silver is formed in the Earth.. This 'crystallization' is rare and considered precious because of this rarity. The light of the golden sun and the silver moon crystallized into a beautiful solid tactile form --metal gold and silver. A second of light is captured and nothing can live without treasured light. This was the luminosity I was seeking and I desired to shape it.
I learned how to gild (apply gold and silver to a surface). After lots of trial and error, I became skilled making the gold and silver bend to my will. I mastered the technique and I harnessed the elusive luminous quality -- finally.
After attaching the gold and silver to a canvas, I apply as many as a dozen layers of acrylic glazes over the leaf. This gold and silver leafing is an ancient technique still done in the traditional way: applying size ( a special kind of glue) to the substrate and then affixing thin sheets of hammered metal. These sheets are tissue thin and extremely light. I can guide them by literally breathing on them. They are almost lighter than air which makes them difficult to handle -- an errant breeze (or sneeze) can crumple them into ruin.
After drying, the leaf is burnished to highly reflective sheet of light. Of course I am a typical messy artist, so I get a lot of glue on everything, especially my hands.
Most of it is concentrated on my fingers, then the gold or silver actually sticks to my skin and nails- giving me an unusual manicure. That's why they call me Goldfinger!