I’m a collector, a hunter & a gatherer. At estate sales, garage sales or thrift shops, I acquire bags of keys, vintage maps, old buttons or paper ephemera, etc. all of which I store for future use in my art. Often my pockets are filled with found objects on the ground. These talismans hold inspiration & unleash my imagination to create new art. When friends travel, I ask them to bring me back small stones, shells or coins and if I’m lucky they do. I store my trinkets in hat boxes, small jars & vintage green silk Chinese boxes. As an artist, having the perfect little trinket to add for “just the right touch” is a wondrous thing.
Blue & White – I remember seeing my first set of Japanese Blue Willow pattern dishes at the age of 17. That particular shade of indigo blue made my heart sing with delight & started a life-long obsession & collection of all things blue & white. Therefore, when I was on a jaunt to San Francisco China Town and spotted this blue & white ceramic butterfly dish, it was a “must-have”. There was a gigantic refrigerator-sized box full of these lovely boxes and they were about $3 each. I should have bought more, but my young son who ended up carrying it for me said “Noooo”. I’ve had this china box for about 15 years.
The wonderful thing about this butterfly box is that it contains small china dishes inside, which fit into the butterfly box like a ceramic dish puzzle. The box is enormously heavy. It is not some delicate porcelain thing, but a hefty yet still lovely, hand-painted useful work of art.
This box was probably designed to serve food, but for me it is a container for pressed pennies, sea glass, skeleton keys, Mexican Milagros for healing, tiny plastic eggs, quartz stones, a plastic frog “clicker” & other small items. No more Trinkets & Treasures will fit into this butterfly box. Yes, I should have definitely bought a few more. “Noooooo”, I hear my young son’s voice say from the distance of memory, but I am a hunter, a gatherer, a collector. I am an artist.
One of the Art Journals I have is titled “Trinkets & Treasures”. This art journal is specific for watercolor sketches of some of the talismans I have collected. The Butterfly box is a treasure I have collected filled with smaller treasures I have collected. I sketched it in 2010. Looking at these sketches, I can see that somehow I have added even more to this little box.
Not too long ago a young man told me he was photographing all of his possessions in the hope that if he had a photo of the item, he would then be able to get rid of all the stuff his minimalist girlfriend found as unnecessary. It’s an interesting theory. This seems to work for me in some shops. If I can take a photo of something I would like to have, but can’t afford or don’t have the room for, it seems to alleviate the “want” because I will always have the photo to take home & enjoy.
My Trinkets & Treasures Art Journal was started as a tool to encourage myself to let go of some of my collectables. I thought that if I took a photo & then did a sketch and watercolor of the trinket, that I might be able to get rid of it. Instead, it just made me love the object more (if one can “love” an object), but it did not make me feel like letting go of something that made me smile and brought me a certain type of happiness. I am aware that sometimes I fill my life with “stuff” in lieu of things that are missing in my life, but still if it brings me joy & happiness, than who’s to say that I should get rid of this stuff. I tell myself that I only live in a one-bedroom apartment, so it’s not like I live in an enormous house filled literally to the rafters with 50 years of stuff, like some of my artist friends. & the continual moving I have to do as a renter does help me purge. A lot and on a regular basis.
The truth is that I could probably spend the rest of my life doing small watercolors of the tiny objects d’art, which I have collected. & yet I still keep collecting. There’s no end in sight I’m afraid of this hunting & gathering that cultivates my artistic inspiration. Sometimes I wonder if I collect from some tribal instinct. I do have a rule now that for everything that comes into my home, something has to leave. Controlling my collecting madness & passion is a challenge. A small table, which is next to my favorite chair where I sit all the time, is an ever-changing sort of a shrine with small Trinkets & Treasures that nurture my creativity and my current 2014 Art Journal. Someday I will downsize. Someday, but not today & not now. I am a collector & an artist. I know some of you will understand. As for the rest of you, well if you’re not a collector, than you must be a minimalist, which I simply will never be able to understand. Sometimes I admire Zen environments with all the space & serenity, but honestly I just love being surrounded by Trinkets & Treasures. I hope you do, too.