‘Nique o’ the Day – Cheap Strips of Silver

I’m seemingly “stuck” on metallic tape, but this one is good – when I was in Home Depot the other day, I saw this heavy silver tape that’s used to wrap metal pipes. Well! It’s bright silver, pliabe and strong, and can be cut into small strips on a paper cutter. Here are some pics of how I used it on my current e-reader cover project – you can see the finished one here. There must be a million uther ways to uses this great tape in collage and painting. Hmmmmmm. . . .

Art & Fear

I’m re-reading Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orlando. It’s one of those books that I’m convinced was written just for me.
“Your desire to make art – beautiful or meaningful or emotive art – is integral to your sense of who you are. Life and Art, once intertwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Stravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting. But if making art gives substance to your sense of self, the corresponding fear is that you’re not up to the task. . .making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be and what you fear you might be.”
“Operating manual for not quitting: Make friends with others who make art, and share your in-progress work with each other and frequently.”
To paraphrase a story from the book, a young pianist began studies with a Master. After a few months’ practice, he lamented to his teacher, “But I can hear the music so much better in my head than I can get it out of my fingers.” To which the Master replied, “What makes you think that ever changes.” The lesson – vision is always ahead of execution – and should be.

Good book, good advice – OK, back to the studio, fearlessly (I wish).

Collage Workshop, Part Two – Pat Semmes’ Work

When my friend Pat Semmes attended the Epiphany collage and journaling workshop with me, she had not been involved in many hands-on art activities, but she had an instinctive feel for images and color, as you can see in her collage on the left. The original measures abour 12×21″ and is mounted to stand like a tryptich screen on the desk in her office. She also wrote a poem, below, that impressed and moved the group as much as her images did. You can read more about the workshop in this previous post.

Every Bird has his Day
by Pat Semmes

The lilies form patterns like Monet
On the lake of happiness.

Penguin beak up to the sky
Asking God’s grace
Through the ice and snow of life.

Life’s pattern is a circle –
Figures go round and round
In perpetual motion
As sun rise and sun set.
Sliding, gliding
Under water comfort.

The tree of life
Giving and taking and stretching out
Over ground nestled in ferns near its felled self.
Upside down images flowing
Like incense from the glass vase.

Circle of shapes –
Protect us on life’s journey

A Water Lily Lives …

Struggling with Painting

I *think* I finished a collage painting today – it has a mind of its own. The sketch I did to start was of a simple landscape with perspective. I wanted to explore pure texture and color and remain fairly non-representational during the process. I used acrylic paint, metal leaf and inks on Arches watercolor paper.

First, it cooperated and wanted to be a landscape – then it totally stopped working. I bravely whacked a third of it off and turned it vertically like a book. That worked for a while, as well. But, again, it just wasn’t coming together. I think I had been working with images for such a intense time that I was having trouble with simple color and design. Finally I turned it horizontally again and it became the landscape it was meant to be from the beginnning, but with a much darker feel. It is so difficult to explain in words the process of creating something like this painting – my brain’s right side is *way* out of practice, but it feels like it’s coming back. Here’s the piece, tentatively called Dark Dawn –

‘Nique o’ the Day – Gilded Masking Tape

This is an accidental discovery – I was masking off an area to apply some gold leaf when I realized that the tape was cooler than the area the leaf stuck to. So I made some gold-leafed masking tape – it’s a great collage embellishment. Here’s how – tape strips of masking tape to waxed paper, spray it all lightly with 3M adhesive, apply the gold leaf, then let dry. You can strip it off cut it and trim it, and just stick it on any place. It ends up being a heck of a lot more expensive than regular masking tape, so don’t wrap packages with it!

Compelling Image, Series of Two

I rarely use the same image twice, but when I found a photograph of Jayavarman VII, King of Cambodia, I created two collaged covers using two versions of the photograph. The absolute serenity in his face radiates and glows. Here’s a bit of information about this remarkable 13th century Asian ruler:
Born into the royal family of Angkor, Jayavarman settled in the Champa kingdom (present-day central Vietnam) in his young adulthood and engaged in military campaigns. In his late fifties he led his people in a struggle for independence after their subjugation by the Cham. He was crowned king of a reconstituted Khmer empire at 61. He ruled more than 30 years and brought the empire to its zenith in terms both of territorial extent and of royal architecture and construction. Champa, southern Laos, and portions of the Malay Peninsula and Myanmar (Burma) came under his control. He built temples, hospitals, and rest houses, and rebuilt the city of Angkor (now called Angkor Thom). His dedication to both the spiritual and physical needs of the people has made him a national hero to modern Cambodians.
I’ve included some photos of the two works in progress. You can see the finished journal/Kindle covers on my Etsy website.

‘Nique o’ the Day – Fake Moon

I thought of today’s technique while I was out walking and enjoying the full pre-dawn moon. The craters looked like cells on a sponge, so when I got back to the studio, I made a stamped “moon” using an old cellulose sponge cut with a paper cutter to make a flat surface. I applied white stamp pad ink and stamped through a circular template – aha – a moon! Probably not original, but entertaining 🙂 And it reminds me of the early morning moon.

Collage and Journal Workshop at Mind Science Foundation

Collage has always been a comfortable process for me, so when I received email about a workshop on creating collages and writing about them interpretively, I thought it might get me out of my thoroughly enjoyable but somewhat technical approach to choosing images for my work. The workshop was led by Jennifer Martin and was held in the lovely studio room at the Mind Science Foundation. Jennifer had a son who was one of my dearest students – he died far too young, and she and I share a love for him, although it had been far too long since I had seen her – it was a “meant-to-be” reunion when I saw her at the workshop.

My friend Pat Semmes went with me. Pat is a math genius but professes not to be an artist, so it was interesting to watch her become totally absorbed in her collage, and then, at the end , express its meaning in an absolutely lyrical stream-of-consciousness poem. I’ll post both her collage and the poem in the near future. She did amazing work.

My own collage was not as personal as I would have liked, and I don’t know why, but I was pleased at the way it looked and I tried to do some different things. I rarely use photos from current magazines in my work, and did a bit of self-analysis while I chose the pictures. The main book on which the workshop premise was based is called “Collage for the Soul.” I had just ordered it for myself, and later found out that another friend, an art therapist, is using it with her clients. That book is showing up everywhere! I like it especially because it is a good mix of philosophy and great technique.

At the top, you can see a portion of my own collage, and a photo of Pat listening to the interpretations of others in the workshop. It was an inspiring morning – and I think it’s planted some ideas that may lead to future workshops and new work for me.