09 December 2006

Paper Obsession: Read All About It

Being both writer and artist I've been hit with a double whammy when it comes to paper. I obsess over it. I collect it, make it, crumple it, origami it, hoard it and get paper cuts from it. For the writer, it's the look of a poem on the page, or a stack of pages making up a manuscript.

For the artist, the feeling is more visceral. Weight, texture, color, ability to handle media. I have hot press and cold press watercolor and illustration papers. I have more kinds of printmaking paper than I need, but find myself using the same mid-weight, cream colored sheets over and over again. I bought some Thai paper, but it's so pretty I'm having a hard time printing on it. The same with some Japanese papers, they are subtly beautiful, and could be framed without an ink stroke on them.

I've gone as far as making my own paper from scraps of other papers, mostly from printmaking. I shredded, soaked, stirred, and played with the resulting pulp, feeling all the while like an ancient chemist. A bit extreme for connecting with my ancestors, but it was very sobering to consider the long process in ancient times, and the value paper had. No running to Wal-Mart to buy more if you made a mistake.
Which is why I think I have a fascination with illustrated manuscript pages. It combines the best of both worlds, writing and painting/printmaking. Too bad I don't have the patience to actually sit and produce something similar. I did a few scrolls and whatnot for reenactment, but my first love is still graphic design, and printmaking. Like writing a sonnet or villanelle, sometimes sitting and forcing myself to produce something in the 'old style' resets my brain. I have more patience for creation, when I start remembering all the work that used to go into it. Like the creation of a poem or story, art for me is more about process, and less about a commercial end result. Probably why I'm not rich and famous, but I can live with that.


Gabriele C. said...

I love illustrated manuscripts. I've seen a lot of them in the exhibitions I visited this summer, but unfortunately, photogrpahing wasn't allowed. I suppose all those flashes might damage the colours.

But don't care about my paper as long as the pen runs smoothly on it. :)

Constance said...

Gabriele, I'm jealous. I've only seen a few manuscripts in museums, and have books with pictures of the rest. Pictures just aren't the same. It's something I argue with friends about - seeing a Van Gogh in person just can't compare to seeing a print.

Just like your cloister and other pictures - I really appreciate seeing them, since I'll likely never get there, but I also loved living in Italy and standing on the spot my ancestors stood, walking through the buildings,d touching the aquaducts, hearing monks chant in the cathedrals.

Here all I have to look at are places like "Dead Horse Creek" and Oregon Trail wagon ruts. So not the same...