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Photo © Cynthia Staples
Cynthia Staples : Exploring New Worlds with Paper

Words & Images

Beneath the Sun, Moon and Stars

Exploring New Worlds with Paper

By Cynthia Staples

A doe stands upon a hill, her coat a tawny brown speckled with white. Behind her the sky is red, gold and orange as the sun sets. To this day, over three decades later, I remember sitting in kindergarten class drawing that picture. I remember the coarseness of the paper beneath my fingers as I carefully deepened the colors of the light-filled clouds.

Why that image and that moment remain with me so vividly I do not know. Regardless, while I had fun as a child with a box of crayons, I never wanted to be a visual artist. Storytelling through writing called to me. Later, I picked up a camera as well. Writing, photography, and sometimes cooking, became my adult creative outlets. That's it. Then one night this past November, I had an idea I wanted to express. Somehow I felt I could not do it with words or with my camera. I looked around me and found sheets of paper and a pair of scissors. I began to cut. I kept cutting for a week.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Old note cards, calendars, and pretty papers collected on whim at art stores from around the world, they all quickly became scraps arranged on a page. Just as the moon beamed outside my window, soon small moons adorned paper skies in every color of the rainbow. Butterflies drifted across open waters as sailboats skimmed beneath. A squirrel raised small limbs to the sky perhaps in homage to the moon or just to reach that last acorn. And everywhere leaves in all shapes and sizes spun through their worlds propelled by the wind.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

After a week of effort that left the kitchen table covered in glue and bits of paper, I thought it all a passing fancy, so to speak. A short foray into the world of paper crafts. But even as I picked up my camera once more and again hammered away at a keyboard, in my mind, ideas bubbled for future paper projects. Finally, to un-crowd my brain of such thoughts, I began to carry around a small sketch book to collect the ideas.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Now, instead of immersing myself for a solid week in paper and glue, I try to carve out space on Sunday mornings to realize one idea at a time. It is always fascinating to see how the ideas morph once I begin to cut out forms and paste them down. Making mistakes in other avenues of my life that result in "waste paper" has become a secret pleasure.

As 2011 ends, I know that I must be thoughtful about creative endeavors for the new year. I've got charts and lists and all sorts of 2012 dates penciled in for writing and photography assignments, projects, and learning opportunities. I do not know what 2012 has to hold with regard to my work with paper. Right now, I just want to explore this new creative outlet and see what emerges over time. Meanwhile, I love having one more excuse to meander through an art store. •

Next: The Long Walk »

© 2011 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.

Photo by Cynthia StaplesCynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »

Updated 4/17/14