It’s good to get away. To take a journey that is both familiar and unfamiliar. To be with long-time friends and complete strangers. To stay at a familiar place in an unfamiliar bed, eating wonderfully tasty food, but missing a fabulous favorite morsel enjoyed on a previous visit.  And then, of course, there was the art workshop.

As you can tell I enjoyed a delicious weekend away. After a horrendously busy month, I was really looking forward to an art retreat in Los Alamos, a quaint wide spot in the road in the rolling hills and vineyards of Central California. Through the creative magic of owner/artist Connie Rohde, the C Gallery was hosting a small collage art retreat led by artist Karen Scott Browdy of Fillmore. Aaaah, a weekend of creativity with paper, scissors, glue, girlfriends and good food …my kind of refreshment and renewal.

Strawberries, melon, grapes and green tomato cobbler greeted the gathering artists in the garden. Transitioning to the tiny studio, each person was presented with a zip-loc baggie containing the same complementary collection of papers in blues and oranges. We eagerly dove in cutting, tearing, positioning, repositioning, gluing, layering, more gluing until our substrates were small works of abstract art. We adjourned to the gallery where each of our pieces was displayed on small easels and wondered with delight how vastly different each of our pieces was given that we’d all started with the same collection of papers.

The next morning was a bit different. A table in the garden arrayed with piles of papers in assorted colors, textures and patterns – nothing spoke to me. An unusual occurance.

As an afterthought, we’d stopped by the studio and picked up my plastic bin of collage materials on the way out of town. I began to sort through my stash – hanging folders stuffed with papers sorted by color and theme. Discouraged from using magazine images, I began to look at some of my altered papers in a different way. Color harmonies, patterns, texture and composition suddenly became more important that a visual image that anchored a story or theme. A new way of looking at my stash began to emerge.

Some of my stash included lovely beige quasi wood-grained papers created at a paste paper workshop. Ignored for a decade, suddenly they were interesting. Paired with lush red iron oxide sandwish wrap and a freezer paper stencil used to create an Asian motif on dupioni silk for a bathroom valance it suggested a labyrinth to the other artists and a gentle invitation to journey into the image. A quiet image of contemplation, a journey to the heart of God.

Other papers had been created by blotting up the soupy leftover paints on a palette and then over-stamping  – a crackly image here, a leaf there. Other pieces were altered papers created years ago experimenting with different non-art products – Citra Solv household cleaner, Nevr Dull polish and Clorox bleach.  I’d had fun at the time playing with these alternative techniques but hadn’t been inspired to do anything artful with them. Until now.

And then there was the Issey Miyake size 8 pattern I’d pick up for free out of a sewing retreat dig box years ago. No intentions of ever making that pattern. But collage stash for some distant day? You bet. Today was the day it was going to get paired with the yellow ochre Tuscan paper placemat tucked away in yet another hanging folder plus papers painted and stamped or altered with Nevr Dull polish. Five pieces of paper. Two elegant results.


What a remarkable opportunity to revisit the results of old enjoyable art experiences anew. To see with fresh eyes the possibility of balance and beauty emerging from papers that previously languished in my stash from lack of imagination. There was no discernable story or theme intended, just the pleasant combining of companionable papers. Yet, because all of us make cognitive associations relevant to ourselves with the art we create, I will probably write or reflect about the meaning of these new collages and their relevance to my own personal narrative. 

What are the stashed away resources in your life you might like to revisit? How would you like to consider using them in a new way? If you were to write a reflection on any of the collage images above what would you say? What do they suggest to you? How would these thoughts be relevant to your personal narrative?

I’ll look forward to what you have to share.

PS – Click on an image for a more detailed view of each collage.

PSS – Becaused we missed it at the first evening wine tasting, we each came home with a cherished bag of my favorite olive shortbread thanks to Natalie and Michael Werk of Rancho Alamo Camp 1, our retreat hosts. I have vowed not to eat it all in one sitting.




4 comments to Stash

  • This is wonderful! I feel the spaciousness and fresh eyes in your descriptions and images. My own stash has been beckoning me as things pour out of baskets and heaps pile up. Your gentle perspective has me at the ready to dive in.
    with gratitude and blessings,

  • Joyce Lombard

    I sure love looking at these, Lynne, especially on the afternoon of this day I taught my All Stamped Up workshop, which got very creative. Sometime I want to know how you used those non-art materials!

    Sounds like you have many art communities to soak in!


  • cynthia thomas

    i recently took a look in my stash of black fabrics. i was a little surprised to rediscover what was in those drawers. i’d forgotten. as i looked at each piece, i tried to remember where i got it; was it a gift from someone? did i buy it ? if so, where? it was like a trip down memory lane. & i think i have everything i need for my new year’s eve vest that i want to make. cynthia

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I had a dream last night about your piece on your blog this week.

    I dreamed that I had moved to a new city to work, and had been invited to share an apartment with a new friend. Every once in awhile, I dream about living in an apartment building in apartment #476. Again I was headed for the same apartment.

    This time, though, when we opened the door to the apartment, we found an extremely lavishly decorated apartment. Upon coming in the door, we were greeted with the very rich colors of emerald green and sapphire blue. The painting technique was not unlike the technique that one of your students at the Lighthouse had utilized in her painting of a matting that would come surround a black and white picture of a baby, with black and red paint, and mineral oil – very rich and vibrant and if you remember my comment, reminded me of the womb feeding the child.

    But I digress, as we went forward into the apartment, the colors changed to reds, oranges, yellows, etc. I had a sense of the two of us being encompassed by the variety of rich colors.

    The rent for the apartment was going to be $5000. a month. Even in my dream, I knew that I could only afford $500. a month. But I kept accompanying my new roommate to be. As we went forward into the apartment, we discovered that apartment consisted of just one room, with a bathroom and a spiral staircase in the middle of the room. When I climbed the staircase to see what was upstairs, I found another one room area decorated with the same colors that you used in the lower to pictures within your blog. This room I knew that I could afford – not so lavish, and yet still feel very fashionable and vibrant, as are the models in your pictures.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>