Prototype – Black and White City, mixed media on canvas, 8”x8”, 2006
I am always a big advocate of experimenting in my art. When I do come up with a successful idea, I want to work on it through a number of pieces and keep refining the idea. As I am working on one idea, it always takes some self-discipline not to get distracted by the new ideas percolating in my head. And then there are times when I don’t even notice I am working on a major experiment until I see the results of the finished piece. This week I was reminded of one my favorite experiments.
For the first decade of the 21st Century map-based collages dominated my work. There was a great deal of experimentation with pattern, types of maps and color palettes. I usually work small first. Because my work is so labor intensive, I do not want to spend weeks working on an experimental piece I might consider a failure. Back in December 2006, I did this 8”x8 prototype piece seen above. This was a pattern I had been working with for a few years, but that time I decided to do a black and white version. I used only street maps of different cities found in the backs of atlases from the 1940’s and 1950’s. All of the maps were interspersed in the index section of the atlases. There were also black and white photos of various cities on those pages. What I had not realized is that by using those maps, I was sourcing the same ink that was used to print the photographs. The color of the maps was not just black and white but had the distinct tone of black and white photography. It was a delightful surprise and reaffirmed why I keep experimenting. In the following months I did larger pieces with the same material. I was reminded of this prototype piece this week when my gallery let me know they had sold one of the larger pieces.