Why we do what we do -- around the world blog hop

I'm fascinated when other artists describe how and why they do what they do. Today, thanks to an invitation from Quinn, an insightful writer who blogs about creativity, I get to share my own creative process in an around-the-world blog hop

When Quinn asked me to take part, I said yes before I even knew what a blog hop was, exactly. Turns out, it's a little like a chain letter, but more fun and without the dire consequences if you refuse.

I in turn have invited 3 more bloggers to the hop. More details about them at the end of my post.

Everyone in the hop answers the same 4 questions:

What am I working on?

The past few weeks, it's all been about Gelli plate printing. It's hard to believe a floppy rectangle of gelatin could offer so much creative opportunity. But it does! 
Print from Gelli plate
I'm also taking an acrylic painting class at Kirkland Arts Center, just a few miles from home. Our instructor is a patient, encouraging mentor -- not to mention a very talented artist. My challenge is not so much painting what I see, but seeing what's actually there. Last week, I was actually able to see the difference between warm light and cool light hitting a vase. 
Acrylic painting I did in class

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A year ago, I would have answered this question by pointing to the materials I used. My thing was making cool new stuff out of trash and things I found at the thrift store.
tote bag made from raisin packages
Recently, though, I've veered toward more conventional mixed-media work, like the collaged postcards I made for the iHanna Postcard Swap.
Collaged postcard
I've noticed a dark theme running through my images -- people falling, spiders creeping, buildings burning. What can that mean?

Another thing that unites my upcycling and mixed media work is a love of mid-century retro. I'm drawn to images from the 1950s and 60s. Even the 70s.
Retro image
Retro image

Why do I write/create what I do?

My hand like to be busy, is the short answer. I like to use recycled materials because I refuse to believe that anything is useless. I write about what I make because it connects me to other creators and it helps me understand what I'm doing, and why.  

How does your writing/creating process work?

My art-making process is hands-on and spontaneous -- I play around with materials until I get an idea or spot a theme. The best moment is when everything comes together suddenly, out of nowhere, unplanned and unforeseen. That's what happened with this wrapping paper I made for my nephew's birthday present.
Wrapping paper made from Gelli plate prints
I started with a simple idea -- repurposing old book pages that I'd used to mop up extra paint while I was printing. I embellished them with stamps and taped them together. The result was more harmonious and attractive than I expected. I almost kept the paper for myself (but didn't, because I'm a good auntie).

My writing process is more intentional and thought-out. I percolate on an idea for a few days. Taking photos helps me focus on the points I want to make. Sometimes, in the process of getting the words out, I make surprising discoveries about myself and my ideas.

My fellow hoppers

Check the blogs of these three artists next Monday (June 2) to see how they answer the same questions.

Cindie (Eweniquely Ewe Fiber Creations) is a very talented fiber artist who lives in Southern Oregon. She weaves gorgeous scarves and wraps. She also dies and spins yarn. She is committed to her art, surrendering an entire room to two humungous looms. Another fun fact -- we're cousins!

Rachel Mims describes herself as an "Artist and Art Therapist in Training." Formerly a solider, now she's using her creative talents to help others wounded in war, and in life. She lives in Florida.

Sabine is an artist in Germany who blogs at Miriskum, a term she coined herself. Her collages are simple yet very powerful. Surreal and just a bit humorous. Oh, and she's a bilingual blogger! Every post in German and English.