ImageLast Saturday, I started an art project in cut paper. I’m inspired by the work of one of my sisters—both are professional artists—and by a Matisse documentary which was one of numerous Netflix movies I watched while cold bugs raved inside my head. God, what a party they had.

I’ve been itching to make art for a while. I used to make two-dimensional paper puppets:  caricatures of close friends for their birthdays and famous women in history. The subjects of that series are modeled after real people.

Joan of Arc is a young woman who was a work friend in Atlanta. She’s from France, multi-lingual, and lives now in Delft with her husband and son. She connects women and children, especially expatriates, to each other and to community resources.

Marie Antoinette is another woman I worked with, but not a friend—a boss. Once, in a staff retreat, while she delivered a talk intended to be motivational, she stood before us licking her fingers and eating cake supplied by a vendor who knew her sweet tooth. Of the down-sized and out-sourced, I imagined her saying, “Let them eat cake,” and soon enough that would be several of us, including me.

Elizabeth I, the largest puppet I’ve made, is an El Greco-style Meryl Streep with orange construction paper curls. Her dress is made from scraps of Christmas wrapping paper. For several years, she hung by magnets on the cover of the electrical breaker box in my condo. Low lighting, you know, preserves the color.

The remains of my paper puppet collection, created over a period of maybe 10 years, are shielded from light until someone empties the contents of the old camel-back trunk where I stored them. They’ll wonder why I kept the puppets and everything else that’s in that trunk. So do I. By the way, the only male figure, Rumpelstiltskin, bears uncanny resemblance to one of the founders of a major corporation whose signature color is orange.

When I decided, in a fever, to get into paper cutting, I remembered a couple of large, flat pieces of corrugated cardboard I kept from the packing for a floater frame I ordered online from Blick Art supplies. Saving the cardboard says something about how living in Alaska has changed me, because in Atlanta, I would have whisked it to the recycling bin in my condo community before the sun set.

With an X-ACTO knife, I cut one piece of the cardboard to 24 x 20 inches, which is the size of the largest frame Blick ships. I assembled scissors, glue, scraps of wrapping paper and dozens of paint chips left from last summer when my house was under construction.

I thought about the subject of my work—probably a seascape, maybe something with a boat in it. Maybe a fish.

I cut paper, moved it around on the cardboard. I cut more paper, stopped to make dinner and eat it, blew my nose, cleaned up the kitchen, then dragged myself to bed with a cup of herb tea and a box of tissues.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I cut more paper and moved it around when I wasn’t blowing my nose and coughing into my elbow.

By Wednesday evening, as I stood over my work, I felt not artistic. I felt like a convalescent reluctantly participating in craft time at the old folks’ home.

I don’t like the paper. The largest pieces are seasonal; the good paper (paint chips) are too small.

I need big sheets of black and white construction paper. I need more tissue paper; all I have now is red, green, and white (Christmas). I need to be, as my sister Joy counseled, a hoarder if my art form is going to be cut paper and collage.

With just enough space cleared for one car, her garage is a  storehouse and studio chock full of canvases (blank and works in progress), tubes of paint, brushes, and mountainous stacks of painted paper. She could be Matisse’s assistant; better, he would be hers.

On Thursday, I cleared the kitchen counter of all my materials. And while I waited for inspiration, I started playing “The Hidden World of Art.” It’s a computer game where you look for hidden objects stuck into master works of classical art. I think the developers like James Tissot because at least a dozen of his paintings are featured in this game.

Pulling this game together is the background story of a young woman named Lana Vassari who is hired by dealers and collectors to restore works of art. Let me just tell you, it’s a fun diversion, and it’s made even more fun by the captions that made me realize, early on, that English is not the first language of the game developers.

Here are samples, exactly as they appear on the screen; I mean, exactly, the spelling, punctuation, spacing.

I wished to have this painting as once as I saw it.

No argue, it’s painted really well. John Millais was really famous artist in his time. But I don’t really liked this painting . And I think that there is no difference as for me – as it is the stuffed bird is even better – you can watch it well from all sides. And alive bird will fly away!

You know that young people, they are ready to throw away all the past and look only in the future, they forgot their roots and don’t want to know anything! Today we were brought a canvas of Dominque Ingress work, he’s a master of neoclassicism.Do you know what they were talking about when saw it? They say, that according to the rumors, the master was terribly drinking, that’s why the ladies turned out to be more beautiful on the drawing than they really were.

How can you laugh! This thief turned out to be an artist, he decided to attract attention to himself in such non-standard way – like, make it out yourself, which is my work and which is Lesrel’s one

Oh, no… Right, I remembered – my friends, knowing about how much I love art, presented me very expensive painting. But I spatted it with a nail polish accidentally

Almost each his painting is an allegory.

You certainly understand that not everyone can own a private collection without allow. I can. And I can allow to myself a specialist of your high standing.

Almost all his life this artist had to fight with a poverty, . . .

Well, the case is really delicate, big money is obviously takes place here . . .

Does this painting convey you something?

Than you should know that it’s Fragonard who rose this graceful style of art to the unheard-of  loftiness.

Look at this painting. Agree, it’s breathing with peace and home cosiness.

Thank you for such a cognitive talk!

By Friday, I felt close to 100 percent well. I played “Hidden World of Art” one more time, and read the credits: Oleg Kuznetsov, Vladimir Borulko, Vlad Dyjnchak, Dimitry Batura, Aldeander Tochinsky and others. I’m guessing they’re Russian, probably in their early 20s, and if they don’t use perfect English, they have a sophisticated knowledge of classical art, and they’re really good at hiding jack hammers, tennis rackets, and Gramophones in a Tissot painting.

Yesterday I felt inspired again to make art. I shopped Amazon for paper cutting scissors, a set of X-ACTO knives, and a self-healing cutting mat. The order has already shipped, and my artist tools will be here by mid-week.

In the meantime, I see possibility in every piece of paper, Kleenex excluded.

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