Inspiration and Collages
By Jean Cunningham
Where does inspiration come from? As we have heard of the anxiety the blank page creates for the writer, the same can be said for the artist. For Cie Bond, she has two 3x6 doors covered in white paper in her studio, on which she doodles, making marks, small sketches, and notes. These lead to the inspiration for her collages.
Bond, an Evanston artist, has a history of making things with fabric, color, and lines. After deciding to no longer produce to sell, she pivoted to making collages using paper, paint, and ink which are meant to be hung on a wall for viewing.
She makes all of her creations in her basement studio reclaimed from a no longer used kids play area. While waiting for inspiration to arrive, she spends a lot of time organizing her art materials there. She is “incredibly organized” with separate areas for her paper, fabric, paints, and inks. Each are further organized by color resulting in a very colorful overall space. In addition to her materials, she has other things that inspire her in the space. Shelves hold books both to look at and to cut up for collage paper. Displayed on the walls are pieces she has currently stopped working on but continues to consider whether they are truly done or not. Bond says the studio is completely “my own space.”
Since 2011 Bond has maintained a daily sketchbook practice. It started when she was given a set of 3”x3” sketch books and began creating one sketch a day. Her sketch pads look “hairy” with pieces of paper hanging out that she has pasted into the sketchbook using mat medium.
In the evening after she has finished her work for the day, she retires to the studio, listens to a book or podcast, and then starts to create. With an inspiration from a mark from the doodle wall, from materials captured from her organizing, or from an image in her daily sketchbook, Bond begins. It is usual for her to work on 2-4 pieces at a time with each being different. She starts by eliminating the emptiness of the page as fast as possible by making a mark or line or by sticking other paper on.
Bond works very fast and doesn’t struggle to continue. This work is her daily meditation. Once a piece has been started, she says, “I just go.” She doesn’t try to think about what she puts on the paper. She might cut out a shape and add it on the page, then a mark, then some paint, or more paper. As she continues to layer and add, she begins to see images that guide her forward.
She lays down large fields of color and then adds smaller details. She uses a brush for paint and a pen or thin brush for the ink. Sometimes she will scrape away paint to make a new field of color. For the last marks she might use neon colors or more defining lines. If she is unsure of a line, she will use water soluble crayons or markers so that she can blur them out if need be. When she is sure of a line, she uses permanent ink.
After the pieces are finished, she hangs them up and lives with them to see how her reaction to them develops over time. Then they may just go into a box for storage which she goes through occasionally to review her previous work. In the end if she finds she doesn’t like a piece, she will cut it up and place it in the correct organizational location in her studio, and voila! It becomes raw material for another piece, the ultimate in reuse.
Bond finds the Evanston arts community supportive and having lived elsewhere understands how important a supportive community is to an artist. When she needed help on how to price a painting, she called Lisa Degliantoni, Founder and Executive Director of Evanston Made. Degliantoni asked her what she was working on, and right then scheduled a show in the 1100 Florence Ave Gallery.
Bond also has found great support from the online art community by watching online courses, identifying an online art coach, learning new techniques, and finding new sources of raw materials. She also takes a weekly abstract class at Evanston Art Center with Janet Trierweiler that has been her inspiration to work bigger and not representationally.
To learn more about Cie Bond, you can see her biography on the Evanston Made site at evanstonmade.org/projects/cie-bond/ or on her Instagram at #letscie.
Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University.