And so begins the latter half of this series. A part of me wants to linger and reflect more but another part is very eager to move on and give my full attention to my newest collection. Eager to fill my time with more cyanotype and less typing. However, I do enjoy writing, and that I can use it as a vehicle to bring you on the journey right along with me. I love the personal connection this allows and hope my words and thoughts can, in some small way, be encouraging or inspiring.
Again, more thoughts for me to stew on in another place or time. For now, let’s take a look at creating the Current Collection and what I learned from it.
The Current Collection is a body of work exploring a season of grief and guided by the metaphor that grief is like the ocean. Each piece has five layers, echoing the five stages of grief. Each layer has specific limitations and requirements, creating unpredictable compositions but magical results. For example, the second layer is created by dropping the cyanotype chemicals onto the paper from the brush, and the brush is not allowed to touch the paper. If I want to alter the composition after that, I may only do so by tipping the paper side to side. Each layer has its own unique set of limitations and parameters. You can read more about the collection and process here. These restrictions forced me to release control and partner with the liquid in creating the compositions. This too was intentional to mirror the experience of grief.
The creation of this body of work was much slower than my botanical collections. In the darkroom, I could only work on one layer at a time, and each layer needs at least 24 hours to dry. The exposure and wash process is also far more time-consuming, only allowing me to expose two or three pieces each day even with the long summer hours. Keep in mind that not every piece that is completed ends up being chosen fpr the final collection. In total, I think I made almost a hundred of them.
I never knew what a piece would really look like until it was fully dry. And the transformation was always fascinating. I did not mind the slower pace and was delighted to see the final results whether or not it was chosen for the collection.
I originally thought the collection would be small but I was so taken with the process I couldn’t stop myself from making more. The Current Collection ended up being the largest one I’ve released to date. However, two new unpredictable life changes made this large collection a bit difficult when it came to releasing it.
Smaller Collections might be a better fit
I only had a few more pieces left to finish in the collection and two wonderful things happened – we decided to move in early August and we found out we were pregnant. Neither of these things were entirely unexpected. We closed on our new townhome in June but with rentback, renovations, and our apartment’s lease we didn’t have an exact idea of when we would be moving. We also had been trying to start a family for some time and obviously didn’t know that this was when we would finally get pregnant.
Between moving and the incredible fatigue of first-trimester pregnancy, I needed so much more time than I gave myself to release a collection of 28 pieces. I will say that I did improve the process based on what I learned in the winter and spring. I simplified things and made my release tasks much more sustainable. Even so, the weeks leading up to the release were, to put it nicely, very full. Looking back now, I can objectively and confidently see that I should have split this collection into two parts.
But at the time, I just wasn’t ready to stop creating. And I simply wasn’t ready to move on. The very personal nature of this collection made it hard to for me to make strategic and logical decisions. Like how releasing a huge collection, just after moving and in the very unknown season of pregnancy, would be really difficult. It is easy to look back and be objective and logical and see how obvious the solution was. But if I was to go through it all over again, I probably would have done the same thing. But if I could change one thing it would have been to push back the release date by at least a month.
Yet for the future, I think that smaller collections are going to be a better fit for my practice. Fewer pieces make everything much more simple. It also closes the gap between creation time and release prep time giving me that more sustainable pace I’ve been after. This year, I intend to test this theory. With a baby on the way, I imagine I will need all the extra time and simplification I can get.
However, what I learned from this season wasn’t entirely from mistakes.
Defining my practice
Last summer, I felt as if I turned a corner. My practice and trajectory seemed to become very clear to me. I create seasonal artwork exploring the human experience. And helps others to slow down and savor the beautiful. This includes work that highlights the seasons in nature by capturing the beauty of flowers in my garden, as well as work that explores more internal seasons like surrender, withdrawal, grief and contrast. The Current Collection somehow helped to clarify this distinction and focus for me.
Sharing openly about my personal experiences, in real time feels so inline with the kind of work I want to create in the world. And while making the Current Collection, I was overwhelmed and humbled by your responses, and connecting over similar experiences. There is something so beautiful about how art and the process can give the opportunity for such personal connections.
This collection gave me so much clarity for the work that I want to create moving forward. It showed me good and deep work I want to cultivate in my practice. It was one of the most difficult seasons but there was so much goodness to be found there too.
What was a clarifying moment for you last year that showed you the kind of person you want to be? How have you be cultivating this since then?
Name a few people you connected deeply with this year. What did you connect over? What about this relationship are you grateful for?
Collect the artwork
The Current Collection was my largest one yet and a little over half of the pieces have been collected. I’ve linked the available pieces below.
After a few days away it was good to come back and start reflecting again. I am looking forward to the next two days, and diving into Autumn. It was quite a blur that I am still wrapping my mind around. As usual, there will be a few questions to help you dive inward along with me. Below is a quick reference guide to all the posts in this series.