You were always on my mind…

I said goodbye to my Lovely Lucy yesterday.

For seven of the greatest years she was never far from my side – much to her chagrin, I’m sure. I realize now more than ever just how often she was on my mind. Apart from the everyday things pet owners have to think about, it was also just her… like an adjunct spirit.  I felt her presence everywhere I went, and when I had to be far from her, I felt heavy and heartbroken. Even then. I was Roy Neary sculpting his mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  He was haunted by a vision that wouldn’t quit. He drew, he sculpted, and filled his home with trash and made his living room like a huge, stinking art installation.  He just saw it all the time, he couldn’t shake it. When he finally saw Devil’s Tower on the tv and he knew the thing that possessed him was real… his relief melted from him in waves; blood, sweat, and tears. Of course then the movie took on a new dimension, but that’s neither here nor there…

That was Lucy for me. No matter where I went or what I did, she was always on my mind. Big black eyes, ruffled fur, and her nose-licking tongue. I captured her from floating images in my mind: sketchs, dry erase markers, chalk, paint, pastel, paper cutting, in the margins of enough paper to fill a book… I tried to capture her in every way that I could. Of course, nothing is as good as the original.

For seven years I felt that beautiful relief, too, coming home and scooping her up.  She was there, and real, and lovely. She didn’t like to be held, she certainly didn’t like to be snuggled, and I know she probably dreaded the few moments I’d press my nose to her nose and kiss her tiny, stinky mouth; but she’d always let me do it. At 8.2lbs to my 130, I guess she didn’t stand a chance; but she’d usually give me a few moments before wriggling out of my arms like a roided up spider. I like to think she was deliberate in her sensitive pauses.

I’ll see her the same way for the rest of my life.  As lost as I feel right now, I know it won’t always feel “haunting.”  Ever on mind, she’ll just be like a forever muse.  I took about 1000 pictures of her. It’s so hard to know there won’t ever be one more, but I know she’ll keep popping up in the margins.  I won’t be sculpting her likeness from garbage in my living room, though if you know me, you know that’s not an impossible notion…

I sniffed her toes, even when I really shouldn’t have. I breathed into her neck and kissed her until her fur was wet. I whispered sweet nothings in those giant ears even after I knew she couldn’t hear me. I’d put her bed on my desk so I could pause periodically to annoy her with a nuzzle. Every, single, day. I think my real full-time job was just loving Lucy.  I followed her around my apartment, and when I didn’t, she followed me. As independent as she was, I could count on seeing a small black dot at the very bottom of my shower door. She stopped barking over a year ago, but if I had to leave for a longer stretch of time, I’d receive a video text from someone of her barking like a madwoman. It hurt to hear, but it made me feel loved (like only she could).

I held her, I walked her, and when she couldn’t walk I carried her everywhere I could. She’d been ready to go for some time; and my family and friends have been trying to prepare me for months. I didn’t think I’d ever know.  It’s really true. You don’t know, until you know.

Yesterday, I realized that the lovely visions of her that live in my mind, weren’t being mirrored by the real thing.  I stole as many kisses as I could, and as we walked the park together I held my cheek against her little face. I looked in her big gypsy eyes and told her I’d see her one day and I thanked her for wrapping herself around my heart for all these beautiful years. I like to think as I held her little body, my spirit wrapped itself around hers and took her in. We were always braided together. Even though I am puzzled by the absence of her paws clicking against my floors, I feel her with me more than ever.

I’ll never need to go anywhere without my Lovely Lucy again.

And if there is a heaven where all dogs go, I know Tramp and Luther were there to meet her.

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And ya know what?

Just because logging in and getting reacquainted with WordPress is half the battle… Here are a few of the cuttings I have been working on; in various stages of completion.  (Many not pictured because they are laying safely in a “ready to frame” flat file in another location).

 

ABCs

Quarantined at home,
Time to jumpstart the art flow.
Start with A, B, Cs.

Just a Haiku to introduce my first post in a very, very, very long time.

It’s amazing how the full-time in full-time job is… all encompassing.

There was a slight lull during the grey area between going to work and working from home, and during that time I had short bursts to cut some paper. I thought I’d start with something simple: the alphabet. I was originally planning to create a floral cut alphabet to be framed as one piece, but I thought this might be more relaxing. I haven’t worked on a large piece in a long, long time, but I have had more recent experience trying to create larger works piece by piece… Relaxing in the moment, but when I remember I working toward a larger goal, sometimes it changes the tune.

I wouldn’t say I’m consistently a “quantity over quality” type, but the thrill of instant gratification is a huge motivator for me. Having a finished piece in one working session both delights me, and keeps the inspiration to stay artsy burning. I take walks, I take a million pictures of flowers, I have sketch sessions to draw said flowers, but in this multi step process, once I sit down to draw and cut, I’m all about the “done and done!”

I and N were drawn weeks and week ago… and there they sit. They should have been cut immediately. That pause, that hesitation, those “gah! what time is it???” reality checks, is a killer of completion.

I have about 450 things I need to do today, but let’s see if I can honor this goal and set a mini-goal in honor of the sweet, satisfaction of breaking bad habits.

Today, I am going to draw: F, R, U, V, W, X, Y. By end of day tomorrow, the pictures will be up!

By Friday, May 9, I will post the finished cuttings.

Inch by Inch

When I first started cutting I was as impatient when making art as I was in the rest of my life – with everything. I cut almost everything freehand (no drawing beforehand- maybe a sketch), and having little experience with artistic exactness, most of my work remained “works in progress” for years. I wasn’t happy with them, I couldn’t figure out how to finish them, etc.  Eventually I realized I needed to take the time to complete my drawings before I touched the knife.  It’s still not a perfect science for me, I tend to draw like I take notes: that’ll be enough, I’ll get what I meant once I get back.  No.

I’ve started to play around with drawing with pen so my pencil doesn’t smear, drawing with colored pencils so the nuances of the sketch are clear, and more recently, drawing with crayon because the wax helps to protect the paper and make it TINY bit stronger.

All that being said, this post is really for those that ask, “Do you draw your designs first?”

Yes, always, definitely, without a doubt.

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Beaumont at Bryn Mawr

Do you love your children?

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IIIIII thought so!

This Wednesday, October 25, I will be planting myself on the 2nd floor of the Gladwyne Library taking orders for custom silhouettes. Have a kid? Grandkid? Niece? Nephew? Friend? NEIGHBOR? BOSS?  Up your gift game this year but giving the gift of the traditional silhouette (or the traditional silhouette with a twist).  Skip the ihome that you found at Costco (no one is into that stuff anymore). Monogrammed robe from Restoration Hardware? I know they are the softest, but really, is Grandpa Joe going to wear it? You know that friend you’ve maybe, kinda, sorta neglected since they spawned? Show you still care with a custom cutting of their sweet, little angel!

Visit on Wednesday and 20% of your purchase will benefit the Gladwyne Library – that’s an amazing gift, supporting local art, AND a charitable donation to a library. How can you go wrong? Also, all orders placed Wednesday have a guaranteed turn-around time before or by the December 2017 holidays.

I will NOT be cutting the silhouettes live, because performance art is not my bag. I spent five years as a face painter and vowed never create art live again- on someone’s face or of someone’s face. I will be taking a photo, chatting with you about options, so it’s important you bring with you the person you need a photo of. If you can’t bring them, just place the order with me and I will contact you to get the photo at a later date.

Feel free to email me with questions or pricing information at: brownpapercutter@gmail.com

Sweet Mabel

Sweet Mabel is cool shop in a cool town, and I think I am one of the only people on the main line that hadn’t visited until this year. For people that mentioned the shop to me (about 25), I think it must have been like quoting The Princess Bride or Labyrinth and hearing, “Never watched it.”  Madness!  Tracy and Dave are as cool as their little shop, …and creative  …and laid back, and I’m not just saying that because for the first time ever I didn’t have to hang my own pieces (and stress about how they are ordered). Thank you, Dave, thank you… Do you “freelance hang”?

If you’re in Narberth, stop by Sweet Mabel and buy all the things, because you will want to and life is short.  Also, you can’t take it with you, and you only live once, and all the cliches. If you think about it, shopping is the hunting and gathering of our time. If you’ve never heard of Narberth – gasp – go there today. Have some cheese, see a film, watch the crossing guard do her thing, buy a book from a real bookstore, go to Sweet Mabel and buy gifts for everyone (and yourself), go to the little market, smell the hardware store (even better than “library smell”), buy some wine and hop a train home (unless you drove, then don’t).

Also, take a look at the paper cutting on display, because it’s mine and I made it with love, which I think is the theme for one of the coolest towns on the main line.

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Solo Exhibition in the Heart of the Village

When I was in school at Gladwyne Elementary, I entered a drawing of Marvel’s (X-Men) Wolverine in the Gladwyne Library League’s Annual Art & Craft Show and won a blue ribbon.  I don’t want to say it was the highlight of my childhood, but it felt fabulous.  I took a decade and half off, but began entering my pieces in Library show around 2011 and found it was just as delightful to partake in as an adult as it was when I was a kid.

Recently, the little library in Gladwyne was renovated to allow for an elevator to the second floor, and I decided to “cut the library” as a gift upon their grand reopening. Spending more time at the library, enjoying the volunteers, board members, employees, and community friends, I started to understand why the library is referred to as the “heart of the village.” I also reflected on how the annual art show seems to bring so many of these great people together.  Gladwyne is a cute town, but there isn’t a hopping cultural or social scene, for that you typically venture towards the beaten path of Lancaster Avenue.  Shortly thereafter I emailed the folks at the library and asked if they would consider hosting me for a solo exhibition in their 2nd floor space (just a short elevator ride up), and to open up the conversation about having a greater art presence right in the heart of Gladwyne. I proposed, they said yes, and I guess that makes me and the library like Ray Kinsella and his tractor from Field of Dreams: if we call the artists, they will come!

And I got to go first!  So here is a sampling of the 80 pieces that I hung at the Gladwyne Library on September 15. They will remain for your viewing pleasure until October 27.