There are moments when I find myself questioning the path my art has taken and the diverse range of interests I have in creating with various mediums. Among all my creative endeavors, my journey with Paper Flowers has been the most fulfilling. Working with paper, my preferred medium, has taught me invaluable lessons about its properties, manipulation techniques, and the results it can yield. However, a significant event influenced my artistic direction and left me uncertain about how to define my work.
At a certain point, I was confident enough in my skills to showcase them to others. I approached an art gallery, presenting a few samples of my botanical paper replicas, only to be told by another artist that they did not consider my creations to be art. Little did I know that this rejection would have a profound impact on my work moving forward. Unbeknownst to me, I gradually veered away from creating paper botanical art, struggling to define the true nature of my work. The concepts of art, craft, and hobby began to blur, and I found myself lost. This experience pushed me away from my beloved paper and flower making, even though I easily filled the void with other creative pursuits.
It took me over three years to rediscover my passion for paper flowers. The turning point came when someone approached me about teaching the art of making a paper rose at a local college. I contacted the college, and they extended an invitation to apply for their Juried Art Exhibit. Due to my past experience, I hesitated, unsure if I wanted to subject myself to potential disappointment and rejection from “true” artists who possessed formal art degrees.
Nevertheless, I had a particular piece in mind—one that I took great pride in creating. It was a cascading bouquet composed of meticulously crafted tiny flowers and leaves. I knew I had to showcase this artwork, but I also felt compelled to create something new. Excitement surged within me as I turned back to my first love, crepe paper. My perennial source of inspiration remained my real flower garden, where I had replicated countless varieties using paper. However, there was one flower I had never encountered in person—Hellebore. I had only replicated it based on pictures.
Coincidentally, while attending an Art Sale at a fellow artist’s home, I stumbled upon Hellebore plants. They appeared nothing like what I had envisioned. Hellebores come in a multitude of variations, but I was particularly fascinated by the Double Hellebores, which possessed an unusual petal structure that seemed to defy convention. The center of the flower was like a separate entity. Instantly, I knew I had to create a representation of this flower for the Art Exhibit.
The idea came to me in a dream, as many of my ideas do. I envisioned a large wall hanging piece, so I procured a massive latex balloon and inflated it to a size that would adhere to the Exhibit’s size limitations. Over the course of four days, I meticulously covered the balloon with layers of paper mâché, using newspapers and glue. Then, my son carefully punctured the balloon, allowing me to cut it in half and reattach the pieces, creating a sturdy base for the future Hellebore.
To achieve the desired effect, I covered the exterior with black crepe paper and applied black and color-shift acrylic paints. The petals were intricately cut, wired, and painted using the same techniques as the exterior. Hellebore flowers possess exquisite veining, so I painstakingly hand-painted each leaf with a metallic grey acrylic marker. The level of detail involved was immense, but the process itself was immensely enjoyable. I rediscovered my creative spirit and fell in love with crepe paper and flower making all over again.
The next step was crafting the center, the fluffy yellow pollen and anthers arranged in a Fibonacci sequence. This required copious amounts of paper, glue, precise cutting, and extensive drying time. Finally, it was time for assembly. Each petal found its rightful place on the sturdy base, and everything felt harmonious and destined. To facilitate hanging, I securely attached a thick wire from the inside to the back. Then, I added the captivating center and adorned it with delicate green nectarines, elegantly concealing the core. The process was laborious, but every minute spent was worthwhile, culminating in a satisfying outcome.
With both my cascading bouquet and my Hellebore in tow, I submitted them to the Art Exhibit. However, another email informed me that my bouquet did not meet the entry requirements, and I had to retrieve it. In that moment, I felt a fleeting sense of defeat, once again questioning the worth of my work. If not for the notification that my Double Hellebore had been accepted, my trajectory might have taken a different course.
Indeed, my Hellebore had made the cut, affirming my status as an artist. It was a single act of acceptance and validation that made all the difference. Moraine Valley Community College will exhibit my artwork until August 3, 2023, and I will attend the opening and awards ceremony on June 17th. Through this experience, I realized that if you never try, you will never know the possibilities that await you.