Collage Artist Lynda Burch talked with Mary Ellen Merrigan about her art.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is letting go, getting out of the left brain, going into the right one and just playing with no attachment to the outcome. It’s a freedom to explore.
I’m always trying new techniques, taking new workshops. Essentially I’m an experimental painter. One of my early teachers said, “letting go is using the phrase ‘what if I did this?’ on this painting.
How did your art evolve and how have you evolved as a result? Did you have an art focus as a child?
I was not an artist as a child. It was a later-in-life-thing. Now it’s a passion. As a young adult I was always creative. I did crafts and stuff.
Before I retired in 1995 I probably took 50 classes or workshops. I learned what fit and what didn’t. At the time, I was a sales rep for three lines of commercial art. My husband Jack and I had our own business, so I worked my own hours and had the freedom to adjust my own schedule.
When I first started painting, I had to paint in a small room. I kept saying we needed to move so I could get an art studio. After several years, when he knew I was serious, we built onto the house and I had my art studio. Since then it’s evolved to well beyond hobby.
How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling contribute to your end result?
When I’m in the middle of a painting, the thinking part of it is gone and I’m in a euphoric place. The joy is in the process. I’m free. I’m not tied up. I just start by picking up colors I’m interested in using that day. Most of my colors are happy colors. I let the painting tell me where I want to go. If you’re using acrylic in a water base fashion, you can do that. I’ve even poured it on…let the canvas talk to me.
Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?
My head is full of ideas. I have no shortage of them. I’m concentrating on all of these stamp things because I’ve entered the 20th Anniversary Recycle Show, a national show, at Sweeney Center, Santa Fe. All of the art has to be 75% recycled.
One morning I was sitting at the counter and lay gaze landed on a statuary outside the window. I thought I’m going to make a series of those Shaman-like figures. I like to work in series. In another instance I was leafing through a magazine and saw a guitar that would relate to some of my stamps. I have a huge collection of stamps now. I thought, “ I can make a story out of that.” I have several animals in series: a bison, a cat, a hummingbird. I also incorporate wine labels, although I haven’t done as many of those. I use acrylic paint with all of them and go back and forth between the two collections.
Collage has always been part of my works. I incorporate papers onto my surface and use archival medium. It’s been a way I add texture with watercolor or acrylic.
I showed the prototype of my collage stamp piece at the Palace of the Governors. They were sold at the gift shop there for a couple of years. It was my certification that I produced authentic art. It’s quite historical if I use maps as a part of the background.
As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face? Give me an example of courage in facing them.
Acrylic abstracts aren’t easy to sell. So I paint what I like. The more popular collection is the stamp.
How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?
Everything has changed since I started. You learn all of the principles of art and design, as well as the do’s and don’ts. After you learn them all, you’re free to break them all. The rule I break the most often is the one that says not to put the subject smack dab in the middle. With some of my stamp work, the placement of the focal point is naturally there.
What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?
I most want a lot of traffic to come in and see all three of our works during the Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour on September 15-16.
Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour Details
Lynda Burch is hosting Barbara Lewis and Mary Ellen Merrigan at her studio during the tour, 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16 at Stop #4, 2880 Brushwood Street, NE, Albuquerque. Learn more about Gourd Artist Barbara Lewis or Bead Maven and Storyteller Mary Ellen Merrigan.