I’ve been “drawing with scissors”, cutting out shapes of colorful paper ,for over 40 years plus, starting with projects my four children did with me in our kitchen, basement playroom or perhaps later at art classes with other kids in the neighborhood. In the early 1980s, I found myself making small greeting cards using the paper cutout method, similar to the way Henri Matisse worked, when he talked about “cutting directly into color”. Although I also used paint, markers, clay and other media – it was when I held a scissor in my hand and cut into paper that I felt the best, where time felt differently, where an hour would feel like a few seconds.
For many years, as a teaching artist going to schools doing workshops or residencies, I focused on the “drawing with scissors” method to give students of all ages the pure enjoyment of seeing immediate wonderful results in a short amount of time. Themes of Famous Americans, or characters from Folktales came alive with colorful paper cutout murals, with each participant creating their own cutout. The same process worked when themes of “animals of the rain forest” or perhaps “animals of the desert” were expressed.
Being an enthusiastic grandmother, it was natural for me to think of creating paper cutout portraits of these adorable children (strictly impartial). Soon, I realized that there were other parents, grandparents, or people who would also enjoy these kind of portraits for people they knew or loved. One of my daughters who had a dog suggested that I add “pets” to my paper cutout portfolio, which I did – starting with some of our family and friend’s pets , The parrot actually was a pet of someone I happened to meet at a local Bird Expo. Both seemed delighted when I asked permission to take their reference photo with the promise to create the parrot’s portrait.
It is my hope that this way to express a portrait using paper cutouts will bring much joy to those who order the commissions. The collaboration, between me and the client, brings its own rewards – in that I get to know and better understand many loving relationships between those who order the portraits and those who are portrayed.