• Steph Holmes

Pink Morel in May

At the beginning of the year, I took a virtual vision board class at The HRart Center. In that class, I learned two things: how to tap into my intuition and follow its' lead as I make an image, and two... that I was doing that in a makeshift way all along.


About a decade ago I was sitting in a college drawing class and our assignment was to make a reductive drawing using charcoal. This process involved covering the entire sheet of paper in a thick layer of black charcoal and then using an eraser to erase an image into the darkened paper. It was a fascinating way to think about drawing. Instead of making a dark tone with each mark, my every move created a light tone which could be controlled by changing the pressure of the tool and by using different kinds of erasers. My favorite part of that process was seeing what images would emerge. I didn't go into the drawing knowing what I would create, but instead I would let my eyes go out of focus and blur as I was looking at the charcoaled paper. Then I'd wait to see what sort of vague shapes I could make out before beginning to erase. It was very similar to that game we all play as kids looking at the clouds up in the sky on a pretty day. If I squint my eyes at the paper, my mind will start to pick out an image, and then I just focus on creating that image with the eraser.


Here is one of those first drawings I created using that process:


"The House in the Trees"

charcoal on paper

14.5" x 22.5"

2010


Dreamy, right? This process of allowing my intuition to guide my art-making is difficult for me. My mind and personality naturally want to control chaos not invite it to sit in the driver's seat. But once I get going and begin making moves, either with an eraser in a reductive drawing or some other form of making, things begin to get exciting. This type of creating always surprises me. The subject matter seems to be pulled straight from my subconscious and gives me insight into what's going on around me, how I feel about it, and sometimes what I need to do about it. My subconscious converses with me using the language of visual metaphors.


Here are a few images of that first intuitive collage I made at the beginning of this year:



I loved making this and looking for personal and spiritual metaphors afterwards so, I've committed to working on an intuitive collage at the beginning of each month as a sort of check-in with myself. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, which means I'm still sitting strapped into that rollercoaster of emotions. I think this is going to be really good for me.


I started the May collage sifting through my various saved collage papers. These papers live in a big bin with all the other scrap paper that I've collected from my own projects. It's pretty fun to look through the scraps because even if I pull out the tiniest sliver of pink paper from the bin, I oftentimes can instantly pick out when and where I obtained that piece of paper and what other projects I used it in. That little sliver of pink is from a sub wrapper I saved from a little lunch place I ate at in South Dakota.



Once I've selected papers and colors that seem to be jumping out to me, I start that squinting-at-the-clouds process. Pieces get arranged and rearranged as I look for a combination that sings or an image that surfaces.



This month it was a mushroom... a morel mushroom to be more specific!



So I began to snip, clip, and cut my way into making this little mushroom with hole punch spores floating through the background.



And then it asked for some friends to feel really complete.


"Pink Morel"

upcycled collage and paint on paper

8" x 8"

2021


I really do love how this emerged. My dear friend Karen Paust did me the honor of inviting me to come mushroom hunting with her for morel season this year. Not only did I learn all about morel mushrooms, how to find and cook them, but also all about other residents of the forest. Walking through the woods with Karen is such a treat because she's so passionate about the wild and is generous with her knowledge. It's no wonder that a morel would beg to be the image created for May.


This morel is working hard and making things (spores), and then throwing them into the wind without the certainty of knowing where those spores will land or if they will even amount to anything at all. I also see the unmistakable interconnectedness between the mushroom and its' neighbors too. Their roots hold one another and weave between each other just under the Earth. Mushrooms have an incredible mycelia network that apparently is way more complex and essential to the forest than scientists had previously dreamed. More on that in another blog post perhaps, or head to this Radiolab podcast episode if you want to be blown away by what's happening under the forest floor: From Tree to Shining Tree | Radiolab | WNYC Studios.


In this collage I see a message to keep working and producing, to just trust that things will land somewhere fruitful. I also see an ask to trust in my network... to remember that we are connected in more ways than I know and not to be afraid to rely on my people. I'm very happy with the results of this collage, and it makes me excited to see where May will take me!



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