Alexandra Sheldon

Rip Up and Cut Down

Fyfe DesignComment

I am learning something from taking pictures of the work with my iPhone. I photograph parts of my pieces and always like the details better than the whole thing.  But it seems like the process requires making a bunch of stuff and then trying to simplify simplify and then simplify some more.  Lately, I have been working on some biggish pieces (big for me), @ 24"x28" but find that I have to rip them up and cut them down.  I constantly show people how they have made several collages in one and that there is too much going on.  Hence, I make a big emphasis on making a really strong background and often people will say: y'a know I think this is finished.  Because they have made a lovely space (all prepared like a garden plot ready for planting). It is visually more pleasing to have an underworked piece than an overworked one.  Many of us feel that the main story is still missing (even with that gorgeous background) and that there just isn't enough.  So how to fill up and whittle down?  How to have breath and space yet a piece strong enough to work?  Add onto this predicament another layer: the work that I personally want to do, that I dream of and chase speaks of something doubtful and sure, strong yet tentative, delicate but solid. I began making art and writing as a way to quietly and discreetly fit into my world.  When I try to work big and boldly it usually crashes and burns.  I might have to find my strength in the small, the delicate and the private places.  I began earnestly expressing myself writing as a teenager and even now my artwork instinctively stays on the same scale as books.  There is always this funny predicament: how to avoid clutter and overkill and how to get simplicity and strength. And how to be brave and expressive and feel safe enough to even do it.