Creating a Series

Last week, I made a birthday card for Chris Dunmire from the Creativity Portal. It showed three spirits, and each one had a different wish. You can read about it here. The idea of the female figures, with their backs facing toward the viewer was interesting to me. i began to think about other meanings, and I had to make a series to cover some of my emotions and ideas.

Here’s the original:

Then I began to think  how three different people would interpret the same vision. So I made this one. Each of the cloaks are in a different language text. We see the same thing, but each of us thinks of it differently.

When I thought of three wise women interpreting the same vision differently, I began to wonder about the archetype of “wise woman.” It’s OK for wise women to be imperfect physically, as long as they speak wisely. We also think of a wise woman as kind and kind-hearted.

From there, I realized that if a woman is a regular woman, not a gifted spirit, she doesn’t become powerful, she becomes invisible in our culture. Around age 45, women become discounted if they don’t keep their figure, look younger, more appealing. So I made three women who are looking at a dazzling sight (the outline of glitter on the poppy doesn’t show in the scan), but fading from view. You can see through them.

From there I saw the visibility/invisibility issue in another perspective. Now the women are alchemists, seeing visions of triple suns and wearing cloaks that appear magical. Now they are far more than wise women, they hold special powers to change their world and themselves.

Finally, I wanted the women to share something other than what they were looking at. This time, there is a hint of light in the sky above the women, but they are obviously very different. But each of them has a special edging on her cloak —music. The power of music to heal and inspire is a magical power of its own. Each woman sings her own song and is united to the other through the power of music.

That’s what I think when I’m in the studio. I love this series for what it inspires in me. I’ll fill journal pages with the thoughts I had about these faceless women who spoke so clearly to me.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer who believes that meaning making is the purpose of creativity.


20 thoughts on “Creating a Series

  1. I loved reading this. I learned, reading this! I don’t think I ever understood “working in a series” before, but I certainly have a good idea now. Perhaps even enough to apply it.

  2. These are lovely. I am enthralled with each one for a different reason. They each hold so much meaning. A very contemporary series about the maturing of females in America and how we can hold onto our strength in ways not seen clearly or understood by most.

  3. This imagery is stunning. It is personal, and yet all-encompassing. You seem always to move toward the positive, toward healing, in your art and your writing. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images, and your thoughts behind the images. I am 60 years old, and today needed very much to believe there is something beyond invisibility.

    • Ahhh Connie, invisibility also had advantages. When I was younger, I was very attractive, and had to watch every word and phrase. Now I can be cheeky and funny and not worry that people will think I”m inappropriate. This is something I’m using to my best advantage! Just between us chickens, I spent years becoming positive. It wasn’t always that way.

  4. Beautiful series of cards. I bet they would look really good displayed together in a series. Perhaps a frame with four openings, or hanging in a row.

  5. What an absolutely stunning series, Quinn! Those women were really chatting it up to you in your studio. Thanks so much for sharing-

  6. Beautiful series. I enjoy reading about your thought process guiding you to each piece. I sometimes struggle with that part. Either actually paying attention to what my thinking is as I am working, or remembering it later when trying to describe it. Do you take notes as you go along? That might be what I need to do. I tend to have a thousand thoughts racing through my head most of the time that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what thought goes where. 🙂

    • When I go into the studio to play–and by play, I mean create without purpose of selling or writing an article or making a gift–I fall into a kind of “state of possibility” where I feel intensely, but wordlessly. It is the pre-flow of the flow of creativity for me. I create from that spot. Sometimes it’s fast, like these were (although you are looking at six hours of work) and sometimes I do one thing over and over until I get it right. I feel the emotions strongly, so I don’t need to take notes. But note taking is excellent–it channels your thoughts and focuses your energy. Those racing thoughts are exhausting, I’d bet. I sometimes meditate before I start. It clears the head.

  7. Wow, these are perfect! Did you make these from a kit? Just kidding (re: your previous post). They are really wonderful, though; I particularly like the last one in the shades of purple. I think they express your thoughts and emotions very well.

  8. I love the fourth picture in the series, Quinn. There is a definite “magical” feel to it.

    I’m interested in your comment about women becoming invisible after 45. ( as I approach 50 next year). I work at my monet eRning work in a male dominated industry, and don’t feel any less visible than I ever had. However, I’ve been becoming more aware of how much of ourselves we hide from the world. Maybe the challenge to ourselves at this threshold to the next part of our life experience is to allow ourselves to be visible AS WE ARE. For men too, although the imperatives to present perfectly have not been as strong for them historically.
    I love the idea of being alchemists. I especially love the three suns and the blue in image four.

    • It may not happen in Ireland, but here, status is built on the ability to consume products more than anything else. We love young people, although they don’t hold the wealth, they look best consuming. At about age 45 a lot of things happen to women–they have generally had their children, are considered sexually done, have faces that prove lies to the cosmetic industry (that spends a lot of time promising eternal youth), and begin a fight with gravity. At this age, most American women begin to get let go (or fired) from their jobs, find getting a new job difficult and are largely served after young people at counters where lines aren’t mandatory. It may not happen to every woman after 45, and certainly not to celebrities, but it happens in big enough numbers for me to notice.

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