Saturday, January 31, 2009

. . . gave away collages

EVERYBODY GETS A COLLAGE. Anyone who commented in the last few days and requested a collage gets one. Yep, I'm celebrating one year of blogging, and if you cared enough to comment, you get a sample of my work. Please email me at mary c buek at aol dot com (you know the drill, and if you don't, comment here) and tell me your mailing address, and give me your first three choices, by date of the blog on which it is posted. I will try to make sure eveyone gets what they want.

I did get into the studio yesterday, and I prepped a large canvas and painted some of it last night. While waiting for it to dry between layers, I made this small collage. It's based on a photo of a plastered wall. I think I'm getting back into the routine of painting. But now instead of heading upstairs to do something else, I hope to make these small collages while I wait for paint to dry.

Now I have to go call my mother. I became so involved with computer stuff last Saturday that I completely forgot, the first time in years that I haven't called her at 8:30 on Saturday morning for our weekly chat. She finally called me at 9:30. . . I think she was worried about me. Interesting, isn't it, that no matter how old you might be, your mom still worries about you.

Friday, January 30, 2009

. . . made digital collages

because yet another day has gone by without anything getting done in the studio. But Picasa has updated its collage feature and I did spend some time messing around with it yesterday. I took one of my favorite photographs and collaged it with another photograph of some weathered wood siding. The above picture is the result. Of course I fiddled with it a bit for color and intensity, etc.

As I drifted to sleep last night, after spending a lot of time looking at my stash of photos on the computer, I had the idea that maybe I could paint some of these photos, or use them as a starting point, at least, and then also see if I could recreate the same photo in a smaller collage. I am interested in testing what results I can achieve using paint as opposed to what effects are more suited to collage.

Okay, all you lurkers out there. Today is the last day to send in your request for one of my collages that I'm giving away to celebrate 365 days of continuous blogging. Tomorrow I will announce the winner.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

. . . resorted to photographs

Don't forget to comment on this blog and request a collage to celebrate my 365th post. The deadline is 1-31-09.

because, unbelievably, I made no art yesterday, the second day in a row. I was busy. . . I had errands to run; I hid out for a while; went to Dean & Deluca and bought a kick-ass dessert (an apple crumb cheese cake slice) just for me, just for a treat; chatted on the phone; visited with a friend; watched TV. . . okay, I'm avoiding the studio. I wish I could share with all of you what's really going on around here, but this is not the forum for that sort of thing. But looking through these old pictures, I am again inspired. and I realize how long it's been since I went exploring with the camera. So I am geared up to head down to the studio today and get something done.

My blog friend Leslie and I have a swap going. She sent me the most amazing collage in her signature quiet shades. I absolutely love it, and she is a truly talented artist. I hope that she will like what I send to her, but as I told her, my offering pales in comparison. Thanks, Leslie. . . I treasure your collage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

. . . collaged on canvas

(Don't forget to comment on any post between now and February 1 submit your request to win a collage in my one-year blog anniversary giveaway. See yesterday's post for details.)

I have yet to apply one speck of paint to a canvas. . . it's like I have some sort of mental paralysis. I know I need to get to work, but I have no inspiration. I can't even make a decent collage. However, I did take a couple of pieces of scrap canvas, probably about 9" x 12", and collage papers to it using the Liquitex gloss medium and varnish. The collages themselves aren't very good, but I may be reduced to showing them to you anyway, unless I get busy today. But the good news is that should I decide to incorporate collage elements into my paintings, I think they will stick. After the canvases had dried, I tugged and pulled on them in every direction, rolled them up, and just generally abused them and the papers held tight.

Then I had the brilliant idea of trying to recreate one of the small collages in a larger size on canvas. I taped around the edge of another scrap canvas, glued down all the elements, and when I was finished, I used an exacto knife to cut away any stray papers that were glued on top of the tape. How brilliant was that? I not only cut away the stray papers, I also cut through the tape, through the canvas, and into the pink styrofoam surface of my paint table. Then to try to save the thing, I trimmed off all the remaining bits of canvas and turned it upside down on my table. I used my brayer on the backside to make sure everything was flat and attached. Unfortunately the collage was still damp from the gloss medium, and when I picked up the collage, a lot of it stayed stuck to the paint table. So that collage is a total disaster. What was I thinking? Apparently, I wasn't thinking at all.

I saw a tape of John Updike on TV, reading one of his essays, about golf. Updike apparently had the true fanatic's love of the game. We live on a golf course, and our house gets hit with the stray hook or slice occasionally. Updike made those golfing mishaps sound intellectual. I can't believe that I have never read even one of his books. I intend to change that soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

. . . cleaned the studio

just so I could walk through it without tripping over something. In a very literal sense I turned over a new leaf. . . I flipped over the pink 4' x 8' piece of pink insulation that I use to tack down my canvases so now I have a beautiful clean paint space. I organized my papers into neat stacks, and cleaned up the collage area over on the ping pong table. I am in the process of cleaning a bunch of brushes and other tools that I have used to create the painted and stained tissue papers. So supposedly I am ready to begin painting on canvas again. Why do I hesitate? Especially since my art rep called last night and said I would be a featured artist at a show in KCMO at the end of February. I have some work to do. . .

Some regular readers of this blog may know that when I started this blog, my goal was to post every day for a year. So far, I have accomplished that, The year ends February 1. To celebrate, I want to give away one of my collages. Just post a comment between now and January 31, tell me which collage you would like to receive, and I will pick a random winner on February 1. Any collage that has appeared on this blog, even if I have listed it on Etsy, is eligible.

The above collage is an experiment in black-and-white, which I think is just so elegant (the color combo, not necessarily the collage.) I would mat these in black with an inner edge of white, and a simple black 11 x 14 frame. I would hang a series of them (odd number) perhaps low, along the top of a chair rail, or maybe staggered, going up a staircase, or maybe turn a long hallway into a gallery, hanging them at eye level.

Monday, January 26, 2009

. . . found inspiration from

one of my photographs for this collage. . . at least that's how it started. The photograph was of an old wall in an industrial area. Thank goodness no one was forcing me to make an exact replica of that photograph, because of course I didn't. Just inspiration.

Today I must clean up the studio and gear back up for painting large. Betsy and Joe "helped" me down there last night, briefly. Both were attracted to the reddest paint, although Joe pretty much tried to help himself to anything he could reach. He found my old toaster oven (that I used to use for polymer clay beads) hidden away and he dragged it out and played with it. I think he will grow up to be a chef. . . he takes great delight in microwaves or ovens of all kinds. In the pantry I have an old microwave that is not hooked up. He can reach it and open it, and I am always finding little men or plastic animals or cookies on the racks. Betsy could be a lot of fun to hang out with in the studio, but not with Joey around, so I will have her come spend the day with me and we'll do art. She told me she was already the best artist in her class. Of course she is.

I'm curious to find out if my experimentation with painting paper and collage will have an effect on my painting. I hope so. I'm tempted to try to recreate some of my favorite small collages on a larger scale, and on canvas. I paint flat, on canvas that is not on stretcher bars, but it is stretched somewhat on my painting surface. I'm worried that the collage papers I attach to the flat canvas will somehow not stay attached. I have used tissue paper as texture on some of my previous paintings, with no ill effects. Maybe I'm over-thinking this problem. Does anyone have any advice?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

. . . had mixed feelings

about a number of things. First of all, I read in a link to one of Katherine Tyrrell's blog posts that the title of your own blog post is very important in order to attract attention through search engines. . . anyway, that's what I thought I read. Actually, a lot of what I read could well have been written in Chinese. I'm just not that up to speed on the technology. Anyway, under the self-imposed constraint of a three-word title, it's really hard to come up with a title that will alert Google, et al. that your blog content is wonderful, not to be missed. I spent a lot (way too much) time on the computer yesterday (that's another trick, use italics, quotes). I was desperately searching for a way to attract those art patrons out in cyberspace . . . I made no art.

I did, however, purchase "Watercolor Artist" mainly for the article "Hunting and Gathering", featuring six collage artists, including Donna Watson and Laura Lein-Svencner (see sidebar). As an extra treat, the magazine also included "The Seven Contrasts of Color", an article by Nita Leland taken from her book Confident Color. So I guess these hours that I considered pretty much wasted on the computer, in the bookstore, and on my couch, really do probably count toward the 10,000 hours required for mastery of my art. (And don't you just love this paragraph? It has all the elements that search engines love: links, titles, italics, quotes . . .)

Yesterday, I posted a link to a wonderful collage set on flickr. Dailypoetics, who is really Kariann Burleson, has a blog, and she wrote this in response to my email to her:

I just answered that "16 things" after being tagged - that might tell you more about me ... its on the front page of my flickr stream still ...otherwise if you want to know more, just ask blog, that i also mention in the 16 things, is i don't write, i just quote the source and share images with links to the source ...i don't exactly sell my work anywhere right now ... i did have a gallery show - my first and only last summer ... i am doing custom collages through - though i have only done a few so far - i can show you which ones if you want to know ... i am thinking more about selling my work or experimenting with prints because they are so very personal and kind of hard to part with ...

I really like her blog and her art and check out the somersaultslifearchives site, too.

Rambling right along here, just one more thing: really, I don't know if you all realized it, but I was about to give up this art thing and, oh, I don't know, clean houses for a living. Seriously, it was this close. . . and then, last night, 7:00 p.m., when anyone who actually has a life is probably out and about living it, I got a call from my art rep. He must have ESP or some extra-sensory instinct that transmits to him that I'm desperate, because he always calls just when I'm about at the end of my rope. He has sold, sold, sold. . . has actual money for me. . . needs more paintings. . . and will take all the collages that I want to give him, but really wants big paintings mostly. Oh, I live to make art another day. And since I don't even clean my own house very much, I'm pretty sure that making art is my highest and best use.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

. . .glued myself together

When I started making these little collages, I grabbed the biggest jug of sticky stuff I had in my art stash. It just happened to be Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish, and that turned out to be a really good choice. Liquitex is maybe a little less expensive than Golden; the gloss medium tries transparent, and I like the fact that it can act as a varnish, too. I put the medium on the collage itself, on the bits and pieces I stick to the collage, and then cover each layer with the stuff. I started out using a brayer, but soon discovered that my own fingers are much more efficient.

However, I end up with glue everywhere, even though I keep a damp cloth next to me to wipe my fingers. It doesn't matter. The glue dries on my fingers and then peels off in fascinating strips, or just stays on my hands in little pieces, even after I wash them. I have a scrub brush that I use, too. . . but I'm always finding places that I have touched with my gluey fingers. I have had to pull out small chunks of hair because I had pushed it out of my face with glue-covered digits. The edges of my glass are glue-encrusted where I pushed them back up my nose. My chin and neck were glued for a while. I have had glue turn up in rather odd locations because I had an itch that demanded scratching. Maybe that's in the TMI category.

This collage was a relief to make. I didn't have a fixed color scheme. I just added whatever I wanted to use. I also want to share with you a wonderful Flickr set: Daily Poetics added me to her contact list recently and last night I spent a lot of time looking through her collages. I think you'll agree that it was time well spent.

Friday, January 23, 2009

. . . tried the lavendar

Here are my attempts at collages derived from Eddie Ross's color schemes. Here's what Eddie had to say about this one:

Here we found inspiration for a dining room, full of rich, saturated color. The walls I'd lacquer magenta (Aruba Pink IB52), trimmed in gray (Natural Gray VM78). I'd do a modern glass dining table with traditional balloon back chairs covered in a marigold yellow mohair (Cypress VM27). The ceiling I'd paint cream, then hang an antique French chandelier, dripping with crystals.

I used a couple of my own photographs in these collages. The lavendar was not as hard to work with as I thought it might be. It's possible I'll use it again. I guess I forgot about the yellow. . . I'm going to take a break from these "forced" color schemes for a while and try to invogorate my own work. So far my challenge to myself has taught me to trust my own sense of color. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 22, 2009

. . . tried the pink

Here is my effort to recreate the color scheme for a room dreamed up by Eddie Ross. Here's what he said about these colors:

Finally, this unusual color palette I imagine in a guest bedroom. I'd paint the walls a dusty pink (Mauve Morning VM66) and the trim gray (Manor Grey NA47) with two twin beds in a hunter green with coordinating bed linens (Cottage Green VM115). The curtains would be simple ring and rod with a green ticking stripe, the floors covered in wall-to-wall basket woven sisal, and the chandelier a traditional antler style. By mixing in the mauve with the hunter green, I think it's an unexpected twist on Adirondack.

I tried hard to love this combo. . . I really did. I added some black on one and some brown on another. . .what color are antlers, anyway? I imprinted the green with white-painted corrugated cardboard to emulate the green ticking stripe. I found a small piece of text on my table that had the word "deadbeat" on it and just on a whim stuck that on one of the collages. . . no particular reason, just seemed like a message.

I don't feel that these are some of my better efforts. . . maybe my antipathy toward the color scheme effected my ability to make good collages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

. . . spent the day

watching the inauguration proceedings and being proud: to be an American, to have voted for this man. Along with every other citizen, and perhaps the entire world, I wish for him the wisdom and strength to succeed despite the obstacles. I hope that he continues to inspire all of us to be the best we can be, to want to be more than what we are right now.

The Etta James version of At Last has been a favorite of mine for a long time. . . it's on my Ipod. Wasn't that first dance at the Neighborhood Ball just the best? Both Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are elegant. And don't you just love that the TV announcers always said "Vice President and Dr. Biden" when they were introduced?

Okay, on to art. . . I just didn't want anyone to think that I had paid no attention. To be honest, however, I think I was more inspired and moved the night the new president was elected. Maybe I expended all my emotional reserve at that point. . .

Here are the paint chips from Eddie Ross's first room. Yeah, I went to Home Depot and got as many of them as I could find. They were out of some, so I'll have to wing it. You can see where I tested my paint colors on the chips. I got pretty close. . . but not perfect.

This color scheme was really not such a stretch for me. These are colors I use regularly.

In reading the description on Eddie's blog, I learned that he would paint the floor in a checkerboard pattern, using cream and marigold, and that he would use dark brown wood and brass lamps. So that is why I used the cream color, the splashes of brown, and on the collage above, a bit of metallic brass paint. And since it was a library, I added a few words of text.

Fun to experiment with the paint colors and mixing different paint together to come up with something close. The next set of colors will be a challenge. . . there's pink involved. . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

. . . decorated my blog

with pictures from a shelter magazine. . . no, I am in no way qualified to be the author of a design blog, but I am definitely a magazine junkie. In the past few years, however, I have narrowed down my favorites and only purchase them when I have funds to spare. I am still using the gift certificate from Christsmas to Barnes and Noble, and I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces of art from Better Homes & Garden "Beautiful Homes" magazine.

The above picture shows my favorite piece of art in this series. It's the entryway in a house in Toronto. It's a new home built by architect Wayne Swadron. The caption for the photograph states: "The clean, neutral gallery just inside the front door allows artwork to shine. 'Large, bold pieces look best against a simple background,' architect Wayne Swadron says." The photo was taken by Andreas Trauttmansdorff, and the article was written by Khristi S. Zimmeth.

This is the living room of a Nantucket home. The article is about scaled down living. But the house has 15,809 square feet, three levels and sits on 14 acres. I could find nothing in th article that credited the artist of either the oars or the piece above the fireplace, which was in the fold of the magazine. The photographer was Michael Partenio and the writer was Mindy Pantiel.

This is the dining area in a very contemporary home in Phoenix. These pieces caught my eye, because a long time ago I painted three similar boxes that I constructed myself. I still have a couple of them. They were being displayed but one fell and was destroyed when it was moved. Again, I could find no credit for the artist.

This shows a bedroom in the same Phoenix home. The painting above the bed looks very familiar, but no artist gets credit. It would be nice to at least mention the artist in the contents of the articles, don't you think? The writer was Erin Crawford and the photographer was Philip Harvey.

This photo was also the cover the magazine. The caption reads: "ART APPRECIATION: The shared firieplace, which separates the living/dining room from the sunroom, was designed to present Joan Miro's L'Ogre Enjoue as a colorful focal point." Well, I guess that makes a point, doesn't it? You must be an extremely famous artist to get a mention in House Beautiful. Not fair. the home is in Adrian, Michigan; the writer was Lance E. Vath and the photographer was again Andreas Trauttmansdorff.

Monday, January 19, 2009

. . . issued a challenge

On second thought, let me change that. . . issuing a challenge sounds way too aggressive. Rather, I will invite you to play with me. Doesn't that sound much more friendly? Let me explain:

One of my favorite blog sites is Eddie Ross (I'm so glad I finally figured out how to link. . .) His post of January 15, Quilt of Many Colors, is the impetus for this art exercise. In this post, Eddie uses a friend's old quilt as inspiration for five color schemes for rooms in your house. He very kindly even shows the paint chips from Home Depot's Ralph Lauren collection so you can visualize what he does.

I am going to make collages using his five color schemes. . . and some of those colors and combinations are way, way out of my comfort range. At the very least, I will gain experience in mixing paint colors to come up with hues that mirror's Eddie's Ralph Lauren choices. And maybe I'll even find out that I really like lavender or dusty rose . . . My challenge will be to create collages using these colors without sacrificing my own style.

And if you have the time or the inclination, I invite you to check out Eddie's website, and experiment along with me. There are no rules or deadlines or anything like that, but I would definitely enjoy seeing how different artists used these pallettes, and I will be posting my results, be they good, bad, indifferent, blah.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

. . . were reprimanded at

the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Yeah, it's true. I confess that the young lady guarding the room with the works on paper exhibit yelled at me. And not only in the way my kids used to say that I yelled at them whenever I said anything other than something totally positive. Here's the story:

On a whim, we visited the museum. It's shameful, but I had never been there before. It was amazing. . . all of the big-name contemporary artists were represented, as well as a bunch I had not encountered before. . . I admit, I was studying them all intensely. Up pretty close and personal. But as an artist, I KNEW that I was not supposed to touch them. But I would have to say my nose was pretty close to a bunch of the pieces on display. I was examining one, and I saw a crazing in the paint. That's something that has happened to me many times, and I thought it was a bad thing to have happen. . . this was NOT an intentional crackle-finish, it was a crack. We were in a rather large room, and as I pointed to the crack, this young lady yelled across the room "DO NOT TOUCH THE ART." I assured her that I had not touched it. She started to yell at me again across the room, but thought better of it, and came striding across the floor, saying something to me along the way which I did not catch. So I said, "Excuse me?" and as she approached, she told me that I should not even give the appearance of trying to touch a piece of the art, that I should maintain a respectful distance from the works on display. Then she showed me how far away from the art I should stay by spreading her arms apart, a distance of perhaps three feet.

I'm good with all that, but really, I didn't touch it. . . and as she eagle-eyed me through the rest of the visit, I was completely unnerved and truly can't remember much else in my haste to get away from her but still see all that I could see. I realize these were all hugely high-dollar art pieces (and, by the way, all donated by one family, as far as I could tell, the Kempers), but I would like to say that should my art ever be displayed anywhere, anytime, whether in a museum (uh-huh, sure) or on a chainlink fence in a parking lot, please, people, touch it, feel it, that's all part of the experience. I'm glad my art will never be inaccessable. . .

Here's another collage using my favorite papers of late. I'm getting into the purple for some reason. Enjoy, but please, stay at least three feet from your screen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

. . . created art papers

that were unique enough to almost stand on their own as pieces of art. I mean, look at that textured yellow gesso paper. The black spray-paint paper. The bit of purple that is becoming a favorite. But most of all, I'm loving the red. This is truly one of a kind paper. I painted tissue paper, which I had placed upon trashbags, with acra red orange. After it had dried, I pulled it from the surface of the trash bags and it had picked up bits and pieces of previous paints I had applied to other surfaces. Sometimes I guess it pays to be a bit sloppy or messy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

. . . discovered something new

to me, at least. I gessoed some tissue paper and when it was dry, I painted it with transparent paints. That green section on the left in the above collage is a part of that paper. I absolutely love the texture on these pieces and you will be seeing more of them as the days go by. It's always gratifying to me to discover these little tricks quite by accident, even though I realize that many many people have already discovered the same thing. Every time I see this collage, I think of Google Earth, which is really such an amazing thing. This could be a picture of Johnson County, where I live, with all its interstates and flyover ramps and new construction next to fields and parks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

. . . radically departed from

my usual style and method of creating art to make this small collage. And while I like the piece, I don't feel like I actually created anything, but rather used others' creativity to further mine.

See that tiny little piece of orange at the very bottom of the right side? That is the only piece in the entire collage that I made myself. The background is some brown fibrous paper that my sister wrapped Christmas presents in one year. The egg and the yellow bits are from an ad in the National Geographic.

I love eggs, egg shapes, speckled and colored eggs . . . they are examples of nature's perfection. I have never seen an egg that is not perfectly shaped. I couldn't resist doing something with this egg when I saw it. Perhaps I should go in search of real eggs and take my own pictures of them. I would definitely feel better about making collages of those pictures. A long time ago, I purchased a huge set of egg prints on Ebay. I have never used them for anything. Perhaps I could scan them and edit them on the computer and then use them. Maybe I am concerned about nothing. . . after all, I see tons of collages using magazine pictures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

. . . made tiny collages

I have been working on smaller collages lately. This one is 5" x 5" and fits perfectly in this frame and mat I bought at Michael's (50% off to start, then 40% coupon, total about $5.) It's one of the few square mats and frames I found. I really like the mats, too. There is a small spacer between the two of them so that the outer mat stands out from the inner mat. And this shot also gives you a glimpse of my paint table. . . the pink insulation sheet on sawhorses covered by plastic trash bags with paint splatters everywhere. I kind of like the effect. . .

Here is a close-up of the collage. The piece in the upper left corner is the result of a Citra-Solv application to a National Geographic page. I am drawn to this color combination, the blue, beige and white. You will be seeing more of it in the future.

My etsy shop has had some lookers, but no sales so far. I really don't know what to expect, so I'm trying not to anticipate anything. However, if any of you readers have any tips on how to get this shop going, please let me know. Do you think my prices are too high? Should I spend the extra money to get it in a showcase or whatever those things are called? I don't know why I would expect anyone to spend money on my art, when I don't spend any money on anything but the bottom-line essentials any more. The way I look at it is at least I will have kick-ass art on my walls when potential house purchasers come through after I have had to put the house on the market.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

. . . read collage books

I spent a couple of hours yesterday after I made the above collage reading some of the books I have on collage. Here is the list. . .

1. The Art and Craft of Collage, by Simon Larbalestier, published by Octopus Publishing Group Ltd in 1990. Besides having pictures of wonderful collages created by famous and not-so-famous (at least to me) artists, it has a section dealing with Mechanical Reproduction; the author shows how to use a photocopier or photographic equipment to create unique images and collages. In 1990, not everyone had a computer available. So many of these mechanical reproduction techniques are probably now obsolete with arrival of digital photography and photo-editing software widely available.

2. Collage Sourcebook, Exploring the Art and Techniques of Collage, published by Quarry Books in 2005. I especially enjoyed the sections on collagraphy and the work by Jennifer Berringer and Deborah Putnoi.

3. Creative Paper Art, Techniques for Transforming the Surface, by Nancy Welch, published by Sterling Publishing Company in 1998. Some basic information about techniques for creating papers, and useful to jump-start my own ideas.

4. Techniques and Exercise, Mixed Media, by Jose M. Parramon, apparently published in Spain in 1999. Interesting photos of Kurt Schwitters' collages "Objects in Space" and "Merzbild No. 31", using what the author calls "objets trouves", also known as scraps and leftovers. There is only one column devoted to frottage and grattage, both of which intrigue me.

5. Collages with Color; Create Unique Expressive Collages in Vibrant Color, by Jane Davies, published by Watson-Guptill Publications in 2005. This book leans more to craft applications, but still gives examples of methods of creating collage paper.

The collage above used as a background the beautiful old endpapers from a book I have that fell apart. I bought it that way, just to use the endpapers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

. . . think about collage

at the oddest moments. I was cubing bacon and chopping green onions on the cutting board yesterday afternoon and caught myself thinking how I could use these things in a collage. . . it was a subconscious reaction that kind of makes me doubt my sanity.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

. . . wondered "what's next?"

The past month has been difficult for me on many levels. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and so far, I haven't had to wait very long and the floor is littered, and not with Manolos or Choos, but those single old worn-out sneakers or boots, the kind that you find along the highway and always wonder how they got there. I won't bore you with the details (although you probably wouldn't be bored. . . sort of like watching a train wreck, or a snake. . . you are horrified but can't look away) but I will tell you that going into the studio and making these collages is the one thing that has kept me going. So whether I ever sell even one of them, they will have served their purpose, probably far beyond their monetary value.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

. . . lost my focus

on this collage, and just kept adding stuff to try to revive it. It started out as something completely different, actually based upon one of my photographs. It certainly didn't end up that way. I like the blue, though. From a distance, it looks a bit like a cityscape, or an aerial view of a couple of blocks of buildings.

Yesterday I took care of Betsy and Joe in the morning. It was such a warm day for January here. Joe and I played outside; we walked around the ruin of the garden, looked for bugs but didn't find any, played on the Barbie Jeep, and visited with the neighbors and their dogs. A big dog, Nala, a Rhodesian ridgeback (I always want to call it an Arkansas Razorback) and a bishon friese, Daisy. Joey didn't really care for either of them much. Of course, he's also a bit frightened by my electric moving Santa that dances to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. " Yeah, we're a class act here. Meanwhile, Betsy was taking this opportunity to stay glued to the TV watching cartoons, which are banned at her house. Joe and I finally lured her outside to play a while. We went to "Nana's Wendy's" to get lunch. . . it's the one they pass to come to our house. Then Stef came to take them home for naps, which was not a popular decision. Joe and I did manage to paint some tissue paper, but we quit when Joe began to eat the paint. We laughed a lot and had tons of fun. . .

I hope to get down to the studio today. Thanks to all of you who visited my etsy site. . . and who visit this blog.

Friday, January 9, 2009

. . . where was I?

Oh, yeah, I opened my etsy store and announced it yesterday; then I joined twitter, so you will all have to go check out my occasional answer to "what are you doing?" Then I rearranged my blog site, scanned some art, made some art, and emailed announcements to everyone I know, and some people I don't know. My sister Ann in Detroit faved my etsy shop, so I checked to see if she had sold anything, but she had just bought. She is a gifted and compulsive knitter and should try to sell her wares on etsy. My mother-in-law called after receiving my email announcement. . . she loved my flickr pictures of the farm. My sister Hildegard called and told me she had emailed my announcement to her decorator friends in Destin, FL. Suffice it to say, I spent too much time on the computer.

Last night, after settling down to finish reading my book, with the TV on for company, I hear a commercial for a "Starving Artist Sale" this weekend. "Sofa-sized" original oil paintings as low as $19; many smaller works as low as $7; and nothing over $59. WTF??? How is that possible? I may go just to see what a $59 4' x 6' original oil painting looks like. Anyone know? No wonder they're starving.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

. . . opened etsy store

Yes, I did. After fooling around for a long time, like eight month or so, I finally took some time yesterday to stock the store. It was nerve-wracking for me to do this. . . all the doubts, all the "I'm not good enough" thoughts. I had a complete block on what to write, how to describe the 12 collages I put on the site. I will relax about this soon, I hope, and I can fine-tune the store as I go along. In the meantime, my store is called The Painted Surface and you can find it here: I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but tell all your friends, relatives, blog followers, and perfect strangers to go to this little store and support my effort to keep making art and avoid looking for a job. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please do tell . . .

My father was the consummate salesman. All the cliches you ever heard, like selling icecubes to Eskimos, were invented to describe him. He was a happy, in fact ebullient, man, totally nonthreatening and engaging. But could he ever wheel and deal. I don't think the man ever went into a store without trying to make a deal with someone. He was always bringing home things he had bargained for. He tried to pass these traits on to me, as I working at his store during my childhood. I was supposed to learn to sell stuff. . . he would always make customers leave with more than they came for. . . but I never really mastered the skill. Of course, his livelihood and that of my mom and all six of us kids depended upon my Dad's ability to sell his goods. And maybe that's what it takes. . . when you have no other choice. So now it's crunch time for me.

The above collage uses some of the same materials as yesterday's collage, including bits of purple paper. The two together really look great. In fact, a number of my collages (maybe nine or twelve), matted and framed identically, would look absolutely stunning in your entry hall or perhaps in your guest bathroom, or maybe your den, library, bedroom. Actually anywhere. How am I doing?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

. . . painted purple paper

I don't know what made me do it. . . I had an urge to use purple. Maybe because I was wearing a plum-colored sweatshirt that I rediscovered in the closet. So I painted a sheet of tissue paper with broad strokes of purple paint. It's hard to believe I even had any on hand, but I dug through all my supplies and found some.

There are a couple of other interesting elements here, too. The dark gray patch on the bottom right side is more of that discounted discontinued stuff I bought at JoAnn's a while ago. It has iron shavings in it and it shines when it's held up to the light. It's very thick and I applied it to the tissue paper with a pallette knife. It has a great texture.

The black on the left was also paint left over from my furniture painting adventure. I slathered some gloss black enamel paint onto tissue paper with a pallette knife, also. It was very streaky but, in the experimental mode, I just wanted to see how it would turn out. The bit on the top is the front part of the tissue page. The rectangle on the bottom is the same paper, reversed. The backside of the paper picked up the various odd bits and blobs left over from previous tissue paper painting, and it is not as glossy as the front of the paper. I also used bits of my own photography in black and white, although it shows up kind of green in this photo.

This collage is on the mantel right now, so I can look it over from various places, or just glance at it as I pass. It is very graphic. . . the purple doesn't show up much. From a distance, it's dynamite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

. . . interrupted the collages

to showcase some art that I've seen recently. The picture above is a detail of the centerpiece of the family room in the HGTV's house give-away. The television was on New Year's Day and I was doing something else but kind of listening to it. The host kept referring to modern art juxtaposed with traditional furnishings. That piqued my interest, so I searched the HGTV site and found these for your review. The house is in the Sonoma area of California. Nice.

Here is the room in its entirety. The painting is "On Being Mortal, Part One" by Anthony May. "Tucked away in a far corner of the home and overlooking the back porch and courtyard, the family room demands attention, not only for the choice of retro furnishings and a formal gas fireplace but for the room’s focal point; it’s an eye-popping piece of modern art Dream Home house planner Jack Thomasson and interior designer Linda Woodrum discovered in San Francisco. “We always knew coming in the front door that the space above the fireplace was the big WOW of the home, so we really had to find the perfect piece of art to bring it all together and make it work,” Linda explains. "

My favorite design magazine is "House Beautiful." This month, one of the homes featured, also in California, showed this bull's-eye by artist Michael Ives; the white sculptures are Jean-Paul van Lith; and the horsehair shaman's hats are from Mali. Not everyone has access to those shaman hats, so you'll just have to improvise if you're going to copy. One feature I love in the magazine is home designers sharing their favorite colors. This month it was pink, not a color I would use anywhere but in Betsy's room. Another feature is "Instant Room" . . . they show you a bunch of furniture and fabrics and walk you through choosing a combination of these by telling you to "start here", then "add one from this category" (accents), then "add two from this category" (upholstery), and boom, you're done. Theoretically.

Monday, January 5, 2009

. . . used my photograph

to create this collage. I was still trying to simplify and use square or rectangular shapes, with limited colors. I think I managed to do that more in this collage than those I made previously. The three photos are actually just one. . . it is a black-and-white picture of a kind of trash heap in my mother-in-law's barn, including old tools and straw and buckets, etc. I cut them with really no regard to content, but more to size.
The red at the top of the collage was created from some discontinued crackle paste I got on sale at JoAnn's a long time ago. It didn't crackle. . . I must have missed something in the directions, or maybe that's why it was discontinued. . . but I did discover that I can apply thick textures to tissue paper with a pallette knife. I like doing it that way. . . easier and more control than a brush.
You will just have to trust me on this: This collage looks really great in person. It's sitting on my family room mantle. I may have to keep this one, even frame it. Or make more . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009

. . . experienced synchronistic quirk

while I was browsing through many links on many art blogs. I found that a lot of artists were choosing a single word to be a sort of mantra for the coming year, instead of making resolutions. I'm sorry, I didn't think to track my internet wanderings so I can't link anything for you. On one site, I found a list of words that might apply. You were only to choose one so as to avoid confusion. I couldn't pick just one, but the word I was most attracted to was "mastery." I could imagine working hard to master some aspect of art.

Then today I read a book review of Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. The premise of the book, according to the review, is that it takes 10,000 hours for "a talented person to master a cognitively complex skill," and that "it's the number of hours that separates the merely good the really great." Of course, that raises another question: Gladwell notes "there is a raging debate among psychologists whether there is such a thing as innate talent. I'm on the side that says there really isn't. If it does exist, it plays a small role. I'm much more convinced of the contribution of practice and effort to make excellence." FYI, 10,000 hours is about ten years. And you don't actually have to be doing the thing you want to master all of those 10,000 hours; you can be just thinking about doing them while doing something else. . . the example cited was actors who work as waiters for years to support themselves before attaining success.

Gladwell, however, does concede that "You have to have a threshold level of aptitude." Whatever that it, because he says he doesn't know. For instance, I could probably practice singing for 10,000 hours and still not be very good, because I don't have that "threshold level of
aptitude." I may have to find a copy of this book somewhere; it sounds interesting.

Just a word about the collage above: I wanted to do some exercises in simplicity, and you can see that didn't work out too well. My goal was to apply simple square or rectangular shapes of one color in different tones and shades to a collage in an interesting way. But then I found some interesting looking white tissue paper with bits of grayish green and then everything just went south from there. and I have no idea how the bottom became so crooked, either. I will tell you that after I scanned this collage, I did play around with the color and intensity and it looked much more interesting. But I decided to post this picture of how the collage actually looks without enhancement.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

. . . used more brown

to make a companion piece for the collage I posted yesterday. I feel like I should make collages in a series, but my attention span only lasts for about two at a time, which is not much of a series. Then I want to move on to something else, another color combination, just about anything that has inspired me as I wander around my basement.

I attach the collage elements to the watercolor paper with gloss medium, just because I happened to have a large bottle of it around. It is pretty much transparent when it dries, and leaves a varnish-like finish on each piece. But the pieces are still tactile, bumpy, textured. Is that the way they are supposed to be? Or should I put another finish on them to make them smooth, if that's even possible?

Friday, January 2, 2009

. . . collaged in brown

and brownish tones. I used some dark brown latex paint left over from my furniture painting enterprise of this past summer to paint a sheet of tissue paper a solid brown. I then laid other pieces of tissue paper over that solid sheet to pick up excess paint and obtained various "monoprints." Then I used the brush and flicked the last of the brown paint onto yet another sheet of tissue paper, stamped it with the plastic cross-stitch grid, and followed that with some flicks of white. I have all the brown paper I will need for quite a while.

After I glued down the brown and the texture-painted white tissue paper on this collage, I added bits and pieces of tans from old books, brown kraft paper that I had wet and then let dry, etc. Then I put a piece of the speckled tissue paper over the top of the whole thing, letting the brown speckles show up on the white and the vice versa. The three squares come from a sheet of tissue paper that I stamped and stencilled last week. I really like how the unpainted parts of the tissue paper seem to disappear into the background when glued into place. I feel like I have made some kind of great discovery, but of course, that can't be true. . . everything's already been figured out, I'm sure, by someone else, but figuring it out for yourself makes you feel creative and brilliant, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

. . . didn't make resolutions

at least not for the new year. Too much pressure. I make mental promises to myself all year long. Then I usually forget them. I know my limitations. When I'm ready to do something different, I'll know and I'll do it.

I am coming out of a period of intense experimentation and creativity. I think the above collage kind of proves that point. . . it is one that I don't particularly care for. I feel like I just pasted stuff on the paper to get it done. I don't really know what sets off these spasms of making art, nor do I know what seems to deplete them. I just know that as long as they last, I must take advantage of them. During these periods I even dream of making art. I can't wait to go to the studio and try out an idea that came to me at the oddest moment. The rest of the time, I guess I just plug away, waiting for the next surge. I wonder if scientists have studied this? Could these periods of creativity have a relationship to the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the brain? Seems like scientists are discovering that more and more mental conditions are related to endorophins or seratonin or electrical impulses or what have you. Is creativity? Maybe someday we will be able to pop a pill and be fully immersed in our art all the time. I don't know if that would be good or bad.