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Silhouette-like images can be found among ancient Greek vase paintings.

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Silhouette-like images can be found among Stone Age cave paintings.

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Scissors gene mason toutsi biography

[Biography] [Gallery]

Lived: - present
GAP Member Since: 2002-10-10
Type: Papercuttings

7621 Dowdy Drive
Richmond VA 23231-6444
USA

(804) 795-5331
gtoutsi@comcast.net

Laura's Menorah
Laura's Menorah

Visitors to the Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, Virginia often ask me how I became interested in papercutting. An art teacher in the Henrico County Public School System [VA] until my retirement in 2002, I was in my thirties before I focused on papercutting, being introduced to it two separate times by artists who taught “Polish Paper-Cutting” workshops. I was immediately drawn to it, and some of my past loves from art history seemed to fall into place.

As a small child, my favorite book contained photographs of Matisse cut-outs. I loved the shapes and colors and made up stories about them. Later, as an art student at Virginia Commonwealth University, I loved the compositions of Piet Mondrian and Romare Beardon. While teaching art, I focused on a balanced curriculum of the visual arts and always included papercutting and collage. I still love all areas of the visual arts, but now that I am in my retirement years, my favorite media is papercutting and it has become my passion.

Maymont-Friends in the Park
Maymont-Friends in the Park
Owl and Friends
Owl and Friends

Since I was originally taught by Polish papercutters, my early work represents that imagery. Though I have retained many of those familiar Polish papercutting elements ever the years, such as the black framework and the round format, I have gone off in many other directions. Animals seem to get my attention more than any other subject. The colors and patterns fascinate me, as do different kinds of paper.

I enjoy taking on new challenges and discovering different techniques. I love the cleanness of paper and the multi-dimensional look of the surface of each papercutting. Each composition is unique since I do not copy previous pieces or use stencils. I repeat subjects, but never in the same form. For example, I have created several compositions of cardinals, but no two are alike.

Peaceable Kingdom
Peaceable Kingdom
Sailboat
Sailboat

The papercutting process starts by drawing a whole or folded circle on the white side of the black silhouette paper after deciding if the piece will be symmetrical or asymmetrical. The design is drawn and cut on the white side using scissors, exact knives, and a small hole puncher. After the black framework is complete, I decide whether to use color or not. I try to use permanently dyed papers that will not deteriorate or change. I love color in papercutting, but often black and white is stronger left alone. I sign finished pieces and have them framed for preservation and enhancement.

Over the years I have studied and explored many of the cultural and historic traditions in papercutting. I love them all! I have a growing collection from many people and places. I still count Matisse, Mondrian, and Bearden as three of my favorite artists. Robert Sabuda and Eric Carle are two of my newer favorites. Craftsmanship and skill are tremendously important in papercutting, but I will always believe that creativity, originality, and elements of design must also be present to truly be a part of the visual arts.

As a retired teacher, Gene still participates in promoting art with young people. She has agreed to work part-time in the public school environment assisting with the visual and cultural arts programs. With this part-time status, Gene is now able to further pursue her love of papercutting as she says “by opening new media adventures. . . creating, jumbling, and solving a puzzle with intricate pieces. The more I study it as an artform and do it, the more I learn about it.”

 

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