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Where does inspiration come from? Just as we have heard of the anxiety the blank page creates for the writer, the same can be said for the artist.

Cie Bond has two 3-by-6-foot doors covered in white paper in her studio on which she doodles, making marks, small sketches and notes. These lead to the inspiration for her collages.

Evanston artist Cie Bond. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Bond, an Evanston artist, has a history of making things with fabric, color and lines. After deciding to no longer produce to sell, she pivoted to making collages using paper, paint and ink which are meant to be hung on a wall for viewing.

She makes all of her creations in her basement studio, reclaimed from a no longer used kids’ play area. While waiting for inspiration to arrive, she spends a lot of time organizing her art materials there. She is “incredibly organized” with separate areas for her paper, fabric, paints and inks. Each are further organized by color, resulting in a very colorful overall space.

In addition to her materials, she has other things to inspire her in the space. Shelves hold books, both to look at and to cut up for collage paper. Displayed on the walls are pieces she has currently stopped working on but continues to consider whether they are truly done or not. Bond says the studio is completely “my own space.”

The basement studio of Cie Bond is a very colorful space. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Since 2011, Bond has maintained a daily sketchbook practice. It started when she was given a set of 3-by-3-inch sketchbooks and began creating one sketch a day. Her sketch pads look “hairy,” with pieces of paper hanging out that she has pasted into the sketchbook using mat medium.

“System of Geography” by Cie Bond. Media: acrylic, sumi Ink and collage papers. (Photo by the artist)

In the evening, after she has finished her work for the day, she retires to the studio, listens to a book or podcast, and then starts to create. With an inspiration from a mark on the doodle wall, from materials captured from her organizing, or from an image in her daily sketchbook, Bond begins. It is usual for her to work on two to four pieces at a time, each being different. She starts by eliminating the emptiness of the page as fast as possible by making a mark or line or by sticking on other paper.

Bond works very fast and doesn’t struggle to continue. This work is her daily meditation. Once a piece has been started, she says, “I just go.” She doesn’t try to think about what she puts on the paper. She might cut out a shape and add it on the page, then a mark, then some paint or more paper. As she continues to layer and add, she begins to see images that guide her forward.

“Forsythia” by Cie Bond. Media: acrylic, oil pastel and collage paper. (Photo by the artist)

She lays down large fields of color and then adds smaller details. She uses a brush for paint and a pen or thin brush for the ink. Sometimes she will scrape away paint to make a new field of color. For the last marks she might use neon colors or more defining lines. If she is unsure of a line, she will use water-soluble crayons or markers so that she can blur them out if need be. When she is sure of a line, she uses permanent ink.

After the pieces are finished, she hangs them up and lives with them to see how her reaction to them develops over time. Then they may just go into a box for storage which she goes through occasionally to review her previous work.

In the end, if Bond finds she doesn’t like a piece, she will cut it up, place it in the correct organizational location in her studio, and voila! It becomes raw material for another piece, the ultimate in reuse.

“Bubbles and Light” by Cie Bond. Media: acrylic, watercolor pencil and vintage paper. (Photo by the artist)

Bond said she finds the Evanston arts community supportive, and having lived elsewhere she understands how important a supportive community is to an artist. When she needed help on how to price a painting, she said she called Lisa Degliantoni, founder and Executive Director of Evanston Made. Degliantoni asked her what she was working on and immediately scheduled a show in the 1100 Florence Gallery on Florence Avenue.

Bond said she also has found great support from the online art community by watching online courses, identifying an online art coach, learning new techniques and finding new sources of raw materials. She takes a weekly abstract class at Evanston Art Center with Janet Trierweiler that has been her inspiration to work bigger and not representationally.

To learn more about Bond, visit her biography on the Evanston Made site or on her Instagram at #letscie.

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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