Hand cutting paper saved my life.
When I began my Paper Strata Art journey, I was struggling with PTSD, plus the anxiety and depression that came with it. I could never quiet my spiraling, shaken mind.
But then I began my daily practice with paper art. The simple satisfaction of drawing and cutting tiny bits of paper into evolving patterns inspired me. I found that the process of cutting these layers for hours put me into a trance, a meditative state that balanced me. That gave me peace.
I could breathe again.
As I get lost in the details, my knife follows the lines until they've led me to the destination:
Precious windows into abstracted worlds.
There are up to 81 layers of paper in these intricate images with depth. They begin life with the whisper of pen on paper, gaining volume as the design develops, a clear melody of mood rising to the surface. As each layer of my originals are hand-cut using an x-acto blade, they build up from those 2D drawings into relief sculptures.
My focus on these soothing, tiny details gives me a preference for miniatures. I firmly believe that bigger is not better, and find both the meticulous technical challenges and resulting delicacy of working small too intriguing to ignore.
As such the viewer's attention is most often on my precision cutting or the subject.
But I believe the relatively unsung hero of my work is color.
Creating in colored paper is a delicious challenge. Picking out which hues I want for a piece is only the beginning. I have to figure out tints vs shades, full saturation vs tone, warm vs cool. Once I have a palette, I have to determine the order. Switching around the same color choices from one layer to another completely alters the appearance of a piece.
When I began this meditative journey, most of what I saw was cut out of a single sheet of black or white paper. It was never a question for me that I wanted to work instead with multiple layers, creating a delicate strata with my patterns,
a sense of depth that changes the piece when viewed from one angle to another. But it was also never a question that I would use the full spectrum of color. Whether the palette is vibrant or subdued, it is an integral part of the work.
And while the design is what my art is saying,
color is the tone of voice through which each piece speaks.
After all these years I continue to use hand cutting paper as therapy to let the stress of the world melt away, and to help remind me to be present in the moment. Across every discipline, my goal remains to make art that brings me serenity while creating it, in hopes that it can turn around to gift that serenity to the viewer.
If you'd like to learn more about my process, I share behind-the-scenes posts