Clarence, an elephant's tale As a child I loved making

Clarence, an elephant's tale




     As a child I loved making art from scraps of Christmas papers and ribbons.  The art that resulted was most often pure fantasy and quite humorous to my parents.  My grandmother would sometimes encourage me to sneak in slightly more thought provoking cuttings from newspapers and magazines.  She would sit with me and we'd make up little stories to go along with the art.  When I presented the results to my parents it was often apparent that my grandmother had been involved.  Dad would sometimes flip the art over and suggest that my grandmother should have signed it too and everyone would laugh.  I remember that they all seemed to enjoy the art and that sometimes my grandmother would help me recite the story "we'd"created.  Most often the works were placed on the living room mantle and commented on for days.  At some point my creations would disappear from the mantle.  I recently discovered where they disappeared I just found a box full of my artwork with numerous collages.My parents had packed away pratically everything I'd ever made! I can't believe how much my parents had kept. The memories make me smile.


     Growing older, I became more aware that this art form that so intrigued me as a child, the collage, had a pretty important influence on early 20th century art.  The word collage derives from the French word "colle" meaning glue or "coller" to glue.  The actual term was first applied to visual arts by George Braque and Pablo Picasso in the early 20th century.  A collage, by definition is a work of formal art, primarily in the viusal arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole form.  There are interesting discussions among art historians pertaining to the emergence of collage and its role in the birth of modernism. ( There is a wonderful essay on Wikipedia pertaining to collage and modernism....)



    A collage inspired my December ad.  I made it last Christmas for a close friend.  As a birthday gift, my friend had given me a marvelous set of colored pencils every month for over a year (I'm still receiving them!)  The pencil sets would arrive wrapped in beautiful handmade papers with coordinating bows of paper flowers and satin ribbons.  The wrappings were so beautiful that they could not be discarded. When Christmas came around, I pulled out all of the papers and ribbons to make a collage.  I was so happy with the outcome that as soon as it appeared to be complete, I texted her an image.  I found it particularly humorous that I made something from the wrappings (not the pencils)  but she seemed most happy with the image and asked "does it have a story that goes with it?"  Well, it did not, at least not a very elaborate one, just an overall concept.  The collage was at this point was a winter landscape done as a playful homage to Greenville S.C. artist Carl Blair.  There was no real story. However, this question sparked the memory from my childhood of my grandmother and I creating stories to go along with my artistic endeavors.  So, I looked into my stack of wrappings for something to add to the landscape that might provide inspiration.  I discovered one paper decorated with little pink and gold elephants that I had not used.  My immediate thought was to somehow incorporate the elephant into the winter landscape.  I thought how perfect, as Carl Blair makes fabulous whimsical animal sculptures( often with metalic paints).  I'll add the elephant...Why not?  So, the little pink and gold elephant entered the collage and a poem resulted.  Two unlikely characters emerged; Clarence the elephant (that longs to iceskate) and his encouraging friend, Wally the woodpecker.  There is no mention of the fact that Clarence is pink, in a wintery valley, or that elephants (presumably) don't ice skate.  The close of the poem reads:  "If you want to ice skate or climb a tree, and become friends with a woodpecker just do it and see!  Clarence was never told that he shouldn't, so he's never discouraged and wouldn't know if he couldn't".  I'd forgotten how fun it was to make a collage and a story to go with it! 

     My Christmas ad is meant to reflect on my childhood adventures in art that were encouraged by loving parents and a doting grandmother.  I have warm memories of going to my grandmother's house, especially at Christmas (and apparently I haven't outgrown my love of creating silly little stories and funny little collages...)