Home » Light Cuttings

Light Cuttings

Light Cutting from The Arabic Book of Shadows by Chandra Brooks.
Light Cutting from The Arabic Book of Shadows by Chandra Brooks.

Light cuttings” began as a form of collaging with open negative space behind the objects and contours. Then they became small cut-outs of simple shapes illustrating scenes of life.  The content was still very personal; I worked with events I wanted to document like a pregnancy or wandering around an abandoned castle with my sons in the rain when they were young boys.  These were expressive, but the techniques employed were still more cryptic than I wanted them to be.  I also disliked that they had to be attached and dependent upon their placement on paper.

When I switched from working with basic x-acto style blades and moved on to scalpels, the work began moving in the direction I had in my mind’s eye.  From one piece to the next, the clarity began to develop into negative space/light transmission paths which are never EXACTLY what I intended, but that’s the nature of art.  Now I’m in love with some Japanese knives and blades that are occasionally frustrating because even these don’t do: exactly what I need, the way I want.  I’m constantly having to alter my technique and this is frustrating, but how I grow.  Cutting small, intricately flowing lines out of paper is a difficult task and paper likes to rip once cut so the interaction between: the original drawing, hand-eye coordination, possible degrees of hand/eye mobility/rotation and losing control of the stroke make the work of creating light cuttings arduous and unpredictable.  This can be frustrating during the process because they are handcrafted, so each takes weeks or months to create.  Sometimes pieces fall off afterwards because of miscalculations and they never ever look like what I expected or thought I wanted.  They’re unpredictable, yet they yield wonderful results which make me bite my tongue at all the moments of frustration before the cutting disappears and only shadow remains.