Steal Like an Artist
Updated: Jan 26
Everything builds on what came before - Eunice Parsons
I watched a YouTube video of Eunice Jensen Parsons, In the Studio: Eunice Parsons, the American modernist artist known for her collages. You will see that at the age of ninety, she climbs to her attic studio every day and goes to work. Eunice is funny, engaging, and inspiring! She is 106 years old and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Collecting collage papers has become my new interest. So far, my collection of collage papers includes vintage papers, wet-strength tissue, burlap, handmade papers, mandala book pages from India, photocopies of my original mandala drawings, and the list continues.
I enjoy the process of collaging in my new works. I was not embarrassed to ask the waitress at a local restaurant to take home a few napkins. The texture was neither fabric nor paper. Its strength felt just right, and I had to have them. My family thought I was weird :)
A glimpse of my collage material samples
First layer of collage on board
Layers of paint and mark-making
Collage of my drawings
When I looked at my collaged drawings, I instantly felt connected. I wanted to feel my childhood home. I paused to pay attention to the footsteps, the chit-chatter, laughter, love, pain, suffering from sickness, and financial struggles. I wanted to re-live those moments until I felt a sense of peace.
oh! those childhood memories!
I learned the process of collaging papers on substrate, painting over them, and sanding them back from watching artist Louise Fletcher's videos.
After I finished sanding the board, I spent a few minutes looking again. I saw myself sitting on our porch with my grandma, watching the commotion of vegetable vendors, people walking, children playing cricket, and cows and buffaloes wandering across the street.
Walking down memory lane
It's funny that lately, I am starting to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings while I am in my studio. I like documenting the process and writing about how my feelings translated into my art.
My Studio Journal
Every day I look forward to setting aside time to absorb the Netflix of creative content from Louise Fletcher’s Art Tribe community, and it's exciting to learn and connect with artists living across the globe.
A part of the composition for my recent painting, Household Harmony, was inspired by the abstract mixed media painter Mari French.
Art by Mari French
Household Harmony, Mixed Media on board, Vidya Shyamsundar, 2023
I was brought up in a joint family household meaning three generations (myself and my siblings, my parents, my grandparents, my aunt, and my uncle) of family members lived together in the same household. Maintaining harmony among family members has proven to be challenging at times. However, the division of labor between the members brought structure, and the practice of letting go and being kind to each other often became the mantra of the home.
The presence of a mandala at the home entrance is a sign that signifies a state of ordinariness that the household is alive and harmonious. It’s a symbolic depiction of unity, togetherness, and celebration.
As said by Austin Kleon, a New York Times bestselling author whose works focus on creativity in today's world. In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin says:
Steal something that’s meaningful to you that you can actually use in your work. Take those little nuggets, combine it with your thoughts and ideas, and transform into something that’s completely new. Put it out into the world so that someone else can steal from you. Nothing is original. Every new idea is a re-mix or a mash up of one or two previous ideas.
From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert, writes about Originality.
Guaranteed it’s already been done. But, it's not yet been done by you.
Thank you for your time!
Peace & Namaste!
Next Blog: Following My Thread