5/18-19/14 more work on mangaia, 38x38" / by Philip Tarlow

today's version is on the left. that brown bit on the left of yesterday's version wasn't working for me at all.

i'm feeling pretty good about where it's at right now, but i'll know better in the morning. i listened to music on pandora, set on shuffle, while working today. Jimi Hendrix came on a lot, along with an excellent cut by buddy guy. that influenced my mood, as you might expect. and 2/3 of the way through i had an interruption: we went up to the shumei retreat center to join their 12th anniversary celebration and have a look at one of my pieces hanging in the accompanying exhibition. it's kind of rare for me, after having a break like that where i'm interacting with a bunch of people, to be able to get my groove back. but today i did.

the white and off-white strips of paper running the length of the piece vertically are an implementation of something i discovered while making the small collage on paper titled valley stream, on may 8th (see my blog post). this is an example of how, when working on a smaller scale, it's easier to try out compositional ideas that come to me as i'm working. rarely do i conjure an idea or solution outside of my actual work time. i learn and take action on a kinesthetic level, which is why i had such a tough time in school!

it's true that, during the final phases of a piece, i do plan out where to place a particular collaged element, trying it in various spots until it clicks and then penciling marks to remember where it goes after i've applied the acrylic matte medium i use as a bonding agent. but the part i love most is in the beginning, where i don't think; i just do. this morning that process seemed more like being a chef than ever. you grab an ingredient even if it doesn't make logical sense and you've never used it in this dish before. you get that wtf feeling....

invisible forces hold this collage together: the little bits of blue without which the whole composition would come tumbling down.

maps are an important part of the whole, as a finger of sea adjacent to corpus christi, texas inserts itself into paraguay, argentina and brazil and a panera watch meets the antarctic circle. (see details below). the tiny pacific island of mangaia, from which the piece derives it's title, once visible on a map in the upper quadrant, has long since disappeared beneath layers of collaged paper. it's memory lives on.