Text, fonts, ink on paper, and marks on a screen are irresistible. As a kid I ruined phone books and napkins with scribbles, seeing if the ink would bleed all the way through the paper. It’s an addiction, I think, needing to mar white space with my own hand.
I love stories too. I used to sit in class, ignore the teacher, and read books. Reading saved me from the reality of my childhood. Isn’t that true of many avid readers?
I don’t know why we have to choose one path in life. Yes, some choices are rather absolute—to have a child, let’s say. But I wanted to be an artist and a writer, and while for a long time I thought I could pursue only one dream, eventually I dared to pursue two.
Words used in art long appealed to me, but using someone else’s words veered too close to plagiarism. I’m obsessive and possessive—every part of what I create must belong to me. So I never used words in my art.
But one afternoon I came across an artist who used newspaper in her art. She drew images over the newsprint, and then it struck me—I could draw images over my own printed pages! I grabbed a printed draft of my novel and began to sketch…but I didn’t like it. The feel of the paper between my fingers gave me my next idea. I could cut up the paper. Make a collage. And so I cut out buildings, pasted them, and stared at them. They needed something…more ink.
The Imagination Question
People love to ask: where do you get your ideas? I don’t know if they ask because they really want to know or because they’re seeking this magical place for themselves. But I don’t know the answer. It’s the weight of paper, it’s the image of other art, and it’s the feeling at the end of a brilliant book. The idea springs from what is before me and lands in my head as something new, something that only I can do. I believe that there are no new ideas under the sun, but every person has his or her own way to see that idea. Trust that gem of an idea in your own mind and you’ll have something.
The Imagination in the World
I’ve been writing and using my writing in my art ever since. I’ve had a bit more success with the art. People respond to art more immediately than to words. My art has appeared in the online journal Onomatopoeia Magazine and featured on the blog of 7 Impossible Things before Breakfast. My art has been displayed at several local places in Austin, Texas and been accepted twice in the festival Art City Austin. For a while my art was available at a lovely, local, high-end décor shop in downtown Austin, IF+D, until the shop fell victim to these economic times.
Few professional moments have been as surprising as the moment a stranger handed me money for my art. I hadn’t even thought something like that was possible for someone like me.
My writing and art has been published at the online fairy tale journal Scheherezade’s Bequest and my anecdote about my love for The Wizard of Oz was chosen for an NPR series called Your Turn.
An especially fun project was for musician John Zainea and the Mania. John found me through the magic of the Internet. I used his lyrics in the art for his CD cover and the CD itself. In fact, on several occasions I’ve cut up other people’s words in my work—at their request. See John Zainea’s CD at John Zainea and the Mania, Summer of One Thousand Seeds.
One of the most compelling things about slicing up text—whether mine or someone else’s—is that choosing a phrase, removing the words from the context, and juxtaposing those words along side other lifted phrases gives a new twist to what one has written.
Coming Soon and Other Dreams
From January 20th to February 19th my art will be back up on the walls of Genuine Joe’s Coffee House in Austin, Texas. This will be my fourth year showing my work there.
Genuine Joe’s is also where I do most of my writing. I’ve written six novels drinking their lattes (and two other novels besides). I’m still trying to find an agent and hope that my work will reach readers. I take great inspiration from other writer/artists types like Audrey Neffinger and Erin Morgenstern. With luck and determination I want to combine my art and my writing into a long creative career. We shall see.
I can be found in cyberspace in these places:
My blog: The Fairy Tale Asylum
26 responses to “Where Imagination Sparks, by Marta Pelrine-Bacon”
I hope so, Shawn. And thank you for coming by my blog too.
How lovely to see you here! Thoroughly enjoyed this post. You may feel you have too many directions, but I love your diversity and envy you your many and varied talents.
Thanks for having Marta on your blog, Karen! Just wonderful 🙂
I do feel I’m going in too many directions–some days more than others. But thank you, fandina. It was nice for Karen to ask me over here. It’s a good experience.
On a side note, I rather like that by coincidence this post went up on mother’s birthday. She was an artist too and passed away more than 20 years ago. Thanks for the chance to participate, Karen.
Your mother’s birthday…I’m extra glad now that I stuck to this schedule.
Wonderful. Makes me want to return to Texas to see your work! Austin is such a wonderful artist community.
Austin is a great city–and it will always welcome you back!
You’re so far ahead of the curve, Marta, riding the multimedia wave with such beautiful form and style! A single-tier artist like myself can only stand in awe. 🙂 You rock!
Vaughn, you’re a sweetheart. I can tell that I don’t feel like I’m ahead of any curve. Or I am on a curve and there is a truck barreling down my lane.
Simple! Genius. I love this world you create.
Thank you, niamh clune.
A great chance to hear more about your very moving work, Marta. And I agree, we shouldn’t have to either choose or single-file queue our vocations…
Thank you, Exploding Mary. Most of the time I’ve no idea what to say about my work, so this was a good exercise in putting certain ideas into words.
Very cool, Marta!
Thank you, Marianne.
Loved Marta’s post……I’m always so impressed when I have the chance to meet an artist (and so jealous of their talent!). Marta’s work is beautiful.
Thank you, Suzanne, for taking the time to read my post. It is always nice to meet someone who likes art–otherwise I feel like I’m working in a void.
Marta says there is not original idea, but if any idea is near-to-original, this is it. She could “cut me up” any time!
I’ve said this before, but it needs repeating–thank you for asking me to write this. My first thought is usually one of resistance, but I’ve been practicing on saying yes to scary things.
Haha, and look at all the attention you are getting! I have had it shared on FB about a half dozen times already!
I just love “hanging out” (in an online kind of way) with creative people like you…it makes me (a pretty dominant left brainer) feel a little more creative, just knowing there are spirits like you in the world. Thank you!
Elizabeth, I really do believe that everyone is creative–only some of us have been lucky enough to be encouraged (or brave enough to do it anyway as the case may be). My parents encouraged me–or maybe just made no effort to stop me. Anyway, my point is, while I tend to sit at my table thinking I’m not nearly creative enough, if anything I do gets someone else to feel more inspired, to feel creative, to doodle a new idea on scrap paper, then I feel I’ve actually done something.
Thank you for taking the time to look at my work.
Elizabeth, you must visit Marta’s blog, The Fairy Tale Asylum (link in the post), for her bunnies and berries and so much more. I did not have enough room for all her imagination.
Karen, it is really valuable how you support other artists, other writers, how you share this space and encourage people to explore. It is generous. Thanks for the support–may my imagination live up to it.
Happy to do it, Marta. 🙂