Today we have Margaret Peot, author of The Inkblot Book, here at The Elliott Review. Margaret is a book artist, printmaker, and painter. Since 1989, she has been painting and dyeing costumes for Broadway (The Lion King, Wicked, Shrek the Musical and many others), dance productions, ice shows, circuses, television, and film. She has also created murals and textile designs.
What was your first experience creating an inkblot like?
When I told my mother that I was going to do an inkblot book, she gave me an inkblot book I had made in Kindergarten—ten blots, tempera, actually—on manila paper, and bound with a ribbon laced through two punched holes. When she handed it to me, I remembered how entranced I had been with the way the colors merged in the folding in a feathery way that I would never have been able to duplicate with a brush.
What is your favorite thing about inkblots?
Despite the random nature of the technique—drip, splat, fold—the inkblots that people create are somehow particular to them. In classes I have taught, the hairdresser’s inkblots all looked like figures with fantastic hair. The oncology nurse’s looked like MRIs, the quiet writer’s looked like forests reflected in still ponds.
Can you describe a time when an inkblot provided some necessary inspiration for you?
Several years ago I had rented a studio space on Warren Street in Manhattan. I moved all my stuff in, table and flat files, and arranged my supplies. My first day to work—it was perfect, gorgeous—and the light was pouring in through the two huge windows. I suddenly got overwhelmed by the space—having committed to paying every month for a space to do my artwork. I froze! Then I remembered inkblots. I sat on the floor with paper, ink and water, and happily made inkblots all afternoon. That was the day I figured out that it is possible to make perfectly round inkblots—like planets.
What has been a memorable inkblot experience (good, bad, ugly)?
A writer attended an all-day inkblot class I taught. She had been suffering from writer’s block for almost a year, and was attending classes of all sorts trying to find a way back in to her art.
After lunch the class started drawing into their inkblots—drawing around what they saw, and coloring them with colored pencils. One of her inkblots looked like an eccentric old woman in a bustle dress—facing another crazy old woman in a bustle dress. She started coloring the women, dutifully, as that is what everyone else was doing. Then—she started telling us about them—the one old woman was mean, didn’t suffer fools gladly—the other one, her sister, was milder, but stronger than her sister. She started writing their conversation down—and she was off. She wrote and wrote while we drew.
What do you think inkblots show us psychologically?
As I don’t have training in psychoanalysis, I can’t speak to what inkblots show us psychologically. But, I think it is interesting how inkblots seem to enable us to sidestep our logical brain—and perhaps our anxieties, too—to take us to new places.
I started making specimen cases for inkblot creatures, and that has captured my imagination. They are now quite large, and teeming with inkblot butterflies, or beetles, crabs and jellyfish—with plexiglas fronts. (see jpeg, Variegated Fritillary—filled with inkblot butterflies)
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