Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Personal Imagery in Art

Recently, my friend Lelainia Lloyd had a post recently about the use of personal imagery in art. Her post describes the art elements she feels most drawn too and talks about why they mean what they mean to her. I find it quite interesting to hear about what has meaning for others; and in turn, getting to know someone better. Her post got me thinking about my own artwork and I use as personal imagery. I look around and see in my room many of the things I tend to bring into my artwork-I surround myself with my own personal artistic language.

What is 'personal imagery'? It's the elements & colors you use again and again-like a stamp that says "I was here". Sometimes we don't know why we are drawn to something and use it over and over but we do. For example, my friend Deb is purple with black swirlies, Jane has nails, Michael uses white dots and lines, Leilania uses buttons, we all have something that says ME in our artwork. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could look at my own work and create a list of what I see. I would love to see your list, too-so don't be shy! We all have our own experiences and they mean different things to each of us.

Some of my personal style 'stamps' and what their meaning is to me:

The color Red: Its my 'signature' color. I think you could ask anyone that knows me to describe me in a color and they would all say RED. I always wear red lipstick, 75% of the time am wearing something red, if I'm not entirely in red. Red is a strong color, its the color of passion, of energy and of power.

Hands: Hands heal, they create, they hold, they nurture. You can talk with your hands in more than one way. I love hands, I see display hands, doll hands all over my room. I use to have a collection of beautiful tin Hamsa's that I loaned to someone for a photo shoot and never got back-I still miss them 10 yrs later.

Vintage Science/Anatomy: I'm a closet science geek. Well, it didn't use to be so closet-it was my major in college. I love looking at the intricacies of the human body in particular-we are such remarkable machines. I also love Traditional Chinese Medicine and the meridians on the body and the energy fields we emit. Yup, I'm into bodies and parts, I'm fascinated by what makes us up and how we work. There is an acupuncture model setting atop a 1911 anatomy book right in front of me.

50's Pin Ups/Glamour Girls: I love the stylized 'look' of a 5o's glamour girl with the exagerated hourglass shape and pointy bras. Feminity was a weapon to be feared and worshiped. Glamour was sometimes exaggerated and exhaulted. Don't be afraid to gild the lily.

Handwritten Letters: I find I am using this alot to signify "I was here" in my artwork both as a sign of me as well as the person who did the actual writing. It's the physical act of writing, that someone took a pen in their hand and with each stroke conveyed a bit more of their emotion then the words they wrote down that makes it feel so personal to me. Typewritten or computer generated letters are devoid of the same soul and feeling and I only use those as backgrounds.

Rust & Copper: I grew up in Eastern Ohio on the border of West Virginia where the woods are full of copper creeks (pronounced criks)-pure clear water runs over bright orange covered soil and rocks. I do not know if it was a combination of the clay in the soil and runoff from the mines, but it is a site to behold. I've always loved the color and the metal. Rust-decay, a breakdown or really a metamorphisis from one mineral to another. Rust creates instant age, and therefore an instant history to a piece.

Small things: I like to create an intimacy with my work, something you have to pick up and look at closely to see all the details. Secrets hide in small details.

Bottles: Bottles hold things=milk or a message? Medicine or poison? They can be full or empty. They are vessels that can be good or bad.

Keys: they hold the answer. They can open a door or lock something away.

So, those of some of the things I see popping up over and over in my work. What says "you" in your work? What is your personal imagery??


Melissa J. Lee said...

What a thoughtful and interesting post! One way or the other, I think my work is largely inspired by my son these days. Just one example - when I was pregnant, I asked my mother-in-law, who is an artist, to create a painting for her first grandchild to hang in the nursery. My husband loved dinosaurs as a child, so she decided to do dinosaurs with a twist and created a beautiful painting of a family of dragons. Ever since then, even though I was never a big reptile or dragon fan, I've been thinking about dragons a lot and reading dragon stories to my son, and it shows up a lot in my jewelry now.

Ruth said...

Thanks for such beautifu thoughts...
It's true that our own preferences tend to be reflected in our creations, even if we don't do it on purpose.
I've always been told by my friends and clients that they can recognize my designs when they see them in someone else and I think they like it.
I am Mexican and live in Madrid; the beautiful and alive colors and combinations that I remember from my life back in Mexico are normally present in my jewerly, as well as sterling silver -Mexico has always been among the first silver producers in the world. This colours represent for me the intenstity of a wonderful culture and the joy of life that can be stronger than the problems that humble Mexicans have always faced.
Be my guest at www.ruthfajardo.com