The Cut Paper "Paintings" of Nathalie Boutté

Great art takes great vision, and often times, great dedication and great patience. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work of Nathalie Boutté, a French artist who creates gorgeous collages from thousands of tiny pieces of cut paper. I love art that tells you a little something about its creation, where you can look at a piece and imagine how it came into being. Perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to these shaggy paintings. I see myself, as a little girl, tracing an image from a book I used to have of Disney princesses. It was like a coloring book, with everyone outlined in black and white, but each page had a delicate tracing paper overlay where you could trace the image from the coloring book page. Why? I have no idea, but something about painstakingly tracing those images fascinated me. I would sit for a while, carefully tracing the folds of Sleeping Beauty's dress, and then pick up the tracing paper to feel the texture of the pencil lines on the page, a reminder of how far I had come.

I imagine the artist doing the same thing, lost in her work, pausing every now and then to run her hands down the rows of delicate paper. I know I would, if I owned one these pieces — their texture makes them something different from an average painting, not quite a sculpture but much than just an image. The ruffly, ethereal quality of the paper lends itself especially well to a flower or the shaggy fur of a polar bear, and adds a certain je ne sais quoi to a portrait of a little boy, or a map of the world.

Are you inspired? Looking at these images makes me want to spend an entire afternoon absorbed in something lovely and painstaking and worthwhile. There's beauty in creation, as well as in the finished object, and Nathalie's works have both, not to mention that they push the limits of the medium (paper) beyond what you would normally think is possible. A trip to the craft store may be in order.

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(Images: Nathalie Boutté, via her website and Tumblr)

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