What do you have to say to yourself?

That was the question in yesterday’s workshop at the studio called “Postcards to Myself.”

It’s a new workshop, one that I designed to see if we, as artists, create unconscious messages to ourselves as we work on art pieces that combine random images and text. The small works that were produced were amazingly lyrical, and many did seem to have meaningful messages.

The project itself was done in seven stages on an 11×14″ sheet of archival matboard.

  • Stage One – images and objects
  • Stage Two – veiling
  • Stage Three – vintage text chosen randomly
  • Stage four – enhancement and alteration
  • Stage five – selection
  • Stage six – wax or acrylic medium
  • Stage Seven – interpretation

When the collage layers were complete, 4×6″ post-card size areas were selected with transparent plexiglass rectangles. Those were cut out, and then finished either with beeswax or acrylic mat medium. We even wrote notes to ourselves on the backs of our “postcards.”

postcard

In the example above, this postcard-size section from the larger work shows faces from two different cultures and contains words such as “separate,” “restrain,” and “ruin.” It sounds like a trailer for a mini-drama! And yet it’s a completely coincidental juxtaposition within the larger collage.

We had such fun and learned so much from this project. I’ll definitely repeat it, and will probably create an eBook with with a list of materials and instructions. In the meantime, please enjoy the video from “Postcards to Myself.”

By the way, the first prototype postcard I did included text that said “eat one’s words” – so I was very careful about what I said during our critique!

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Monday two-fer – beautiful bones and beeswax

You get two art reviews for the price of one (yeah, I know, they are all free) but still –  I wanted to post Part Two of my Colorado Trip while it was still fresh in my mind, and I couldn’t wait to show you the video of yesterday’s Beeswax Collage workshop at my Studio (see the amazing video, below)!

Colorado Trip Part Two –  Georgia O’Keeffe at the Colorado Springs Art Center

Horse’s Skull on Blue – Georgia O’Keeffe 1931; Oil on canvas

Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life is not strictly a “Georgia O’Keeffe show”, (which I should have known had I done my homework before we visited the exhibit). And thank goodness it isn’t, because when her work is placed beside that of her contemporaries – including modernists like Stuart Davis and Marsden Hartley as well as more traditional painters who were also lured by the Taos light –  O’Keefe’s cutting-edge brilliance shines.

One of her quotes that ran across a bright orange wall at the CSAC gallery read, “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.” That, to me, was huge – and her work showed this journey into interpretation and abstraction through the loose structure of “still life.”.

I was so impressed by the juxtapositions and inclusions that I searched to see who had curated the exhibit. It was Charles C. Eldredge, former director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, who placed O’Keeffe’s work in the context of other artists who were influenced by the Southwest at the same time she was. The exhibit raised thought-provoking questions such as “What is a still life, really?” and “How does an artist chose represent an observation?”

I loved the show – my favorite painting was this one (below) – and my friend Carol Mylar and I talked for a very long time about why it was included as a still life, and why its powerful simplicity is so mesmerizing. For a much more educated and detailed review of Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life, read Gayle Cement’s enlightening, enjoyable discussion of the works.

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Georgia O’Keeffe Black Patio Door 1955

22And now . . . . .Fabulous Sunday Workshop – Wax and Layers and in Beeswax Collage

The smell of the beeswax, the roar of the crowd – what a workshop! Every single participant took the notion of wax enhancement on monochromatic collage and ran with it, creating evocative personal statements. I’ve recently added another hour to my workshop format, and three hours instead of two makes a huge difference. We have more time to critique and discuss – it obviously worked yesterday. Take a look at some of the inspired pieces the students created. Nice work, Y’all!

Beeswax Collage Workshop – five stars!

noraIf you’ve kept up with my new work, you know how excited I am about my beeswax collage series using early 20th-centure photographs.

Along the way, I’ve developed some techniques for using beeswax and pigment on paper that have worked well for me, but I hadn’t taught the process until yesterday afternoon at the Studio.

I wasn’t sure if other people would be able to get the same results, but it was fantastic! Everyone was so happy with their finished pieces, and had a million ideas about taking this process to new levels with their own personal photos. Take a look!

 

Painting with Ellen Rolli in Boston

Gloria Hill and I just got back from Boston last night. It was a journey that involved a lot more than miles – it was a painting adventure and self-exploration of artistic motives and direction. Thanks to the incredible Ellen Rolli for being our guide and mentor. Here’s a video of some of the work we did during the two-day workshop.

When we weren’t in the studio, Gloria and I were lucky enough to experience a few spectacular spring days in Boston. The Public Garden was ablaze with tulips, and all the trees were in bloom. ACHOO!

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It was a fantastic trip. We even got to see the newly installed arial sculpture by Janet Echelman in downtown Boston – you’d think it would be easy to find a one-ton floating construction, but it took us a while to track it down. Well worth the effort, though!

So glad to be home, re-inspired and ready to go to work in my own Studio!

Personal adornment – shards and cocoons

How do I adorn me? Let me count the ways . . .well, the participants at Sunday’s workshop created some fabulous art-to-wear magnetic pins. Their challenge was to use small earthenware faces which they custom-finished and combined with papers and ephemera to create a mini-collage on a 2.5″ base that could be framed or worn. Each one was beautiful, each was different – take a look.

For myself, my new favorite adornment is this art-to-wear neck piece by Turkish artist Ugur Daskan. It came in yesterday’s mail – and I loved it the minute I unwrapped it. Light as a feather, it’s made from silkworm cocoons, paper ribbon, and woven cotton/silk. I photographed it against a lamp so you could see the translucency. You can see more of Ugur’s unique work which combines leather, knitted paper, crochet and fiber at her Etsy shop.

necklace

I am so grateful for the many wonderful artists in this world . . . oh, and one of them is Carol Mylar, who won the Friday Freebie book, Warrior Goddess Training! It’s a little late for your birthday, Carol, but it’s on its way.

 

 

 

 

 

Workshop wowsers with household cleaner

That Citra-Solv stuff just keeps on giving – it cleans up cat barf (personal experience), it’s organic and smells good, and it goofs up old magazine pages and turns them into art paper. I learned about it when artists Bonnie Davis and Rosemary Uchniat demo’d it at the first Studio Show and Tell (the next one is this Saturday, 2-4, so be there). Two workshops later, we’re having a great time combining Citra-solved paper with impeccable composition and inspired vision and turning it into lovely small artwork. Here’s a short video from yesterday’s collage workshop – look what these guys did!

If the altered paper process intrigues you, here’s a great tutorial from good old Cheap Joe featuring Cathy Taylor, who really specializes in collage with Citra-solv papers. It’s a lot of fun to play around with.

Faux fossils

This is kind of interesting – I’m doing some dimensional paintings for the La Vida show on Dec. 6th and have been experimenting with Activa Super-Light Air Dry Clay as part of the process. Look at these fossil-like shards – they weight about as much as a feather but look really cool, kind of like limestone:faux fossils

These were finished with Tsukineko walnut ink. I’m not sure how I’m going to use them yet, but I know I’ll include this idea in the Exploring Air-Dry Clay workshop on December 15. Scorpion fossil jewelry, anyone?

Surface treatment

So I joined the Fiber Artists of San Antonio in March under false pretenses – the only fiber I knew anything about came in my granola. But I am learning so much from this talented group – it started when I met Sherrill Kahn at the first meeting I attended.

Today I took the plunge and worked a bit with surface design on fabric. It was amazing! And fun! After about four hours steady work in the Studio, I completed three pieces (well, the surface part, anyway). I even had time to do some sewing on one piece. The materials I used were Gesso, acrylic paint, India ink (that may have been a mistake – it’s very intense and unforgiving – live and learn), pattern stamps, and gold leaf sealed with acrylic medium. I also tried a digital heat transfer on one of the pieces. Here are the results. i don’t know where I’m going from here, but I do know that I’m hooked on working with fabric and fiber. Look out, FASA 🙂.

Mala and Prayer Flag Workshop

There are several spots left in Sunday’s workshop – it should be low key and relaxing. We’re creating Wrist Malas for quiet meditation and Prayer Flags to celebrate spring and rebirth. I had the funny experience yesterday of trying to video myself making a wrist mala. It didn’t work very well, but here are some excerpts from the process. Making the mala, however, was a wonderful exercise in quiet concentration, counting and joining the beads, winding the tassel 21 times, tying it all together. If you’d like to join the workshop this Sunday from 3-5, send me an email. Just bring yourself – I’ll have everything you need to work with, including a shell to hold your Mala.

Sunday earthshard workshop

There’s something about the new studio space that is inspiring – either that, or I had some incredibly talented clay workers in yesterday’s workshop. Could be a bit of both, but take a look at some of the earthenware ornaments they made –

I love the combination of clays and the embellishments! These will be fired late today or early tomorrow, and then we will meet at Ann Pearce’s Jewelry Design next door to pair these works with beads, leather cord and findings to make one-of-a-kind necklaces and pendants. I’ll take pics of the final creations.

Next workshop, March 3rd, Spirit Dolls, is already full but I’m going to have a second one later in the month on March 24th – email me if you’re interested.