In September I took a class with Katie Pasquini Mausopust where we learned to paint canvases, cut them up, and reassemble them to make art quilts. The class was fantastic and I just loved Katie. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and had to take pictures with my cell phone. Now I can't get the pictures off my phone! I'll get that worked out eventually! In the meantime, I was so inspired by Katie's class that when I got asked to make a memory book for a retiring coworker, I decided to paint and quilt some canvas. I began by painting a background of colors in acrylic paint. The result was fairly uninspiring but I intended to stencil over it so it wasn't too distressing. After hand stenciling two large motif's I realized that doing it this way was going to take FOREVER and I was in a time crunch. What a great excuse to go buy some of the new Liquitex spray paint. Whoo-weee! I spent a fun filled, happy hour out in the sun spray painting through all my stencils and the results came out better than I could have imagined. The memory book looked great after I quilted it and I made a small bag for a friend out of a remaining piece. Now all I have left are some small pieces and these photo's.
I entered this piece in the 2013 Inspire show being put on by 40W Arts here in Lakewood, CO. This year the shows theme is recycled art or vivid color. Happily for me I had this piece in the works. This is made on recycled inter office envelopes, with newspaper, paint, tissue paper, various pens and grease pencils. I mounted the collage onto a black fabric background that I pieced out of fragments of cloth leftover from some other project. The background is quilted and trimmed with black satin ribbon. I think it fits both of the shows themes! Much to my delight I was asked if they could use my artwork for some of their outreach efforts and I won an Award of Excellence at the show. My very first award!
Here is the thing about this piece..... it came together rather intuitively. This never happens to me and finding that inner voice has been such a struggle. I just wanted to play around with techniques one day so I started layering paint and newspaper on these envelopes and then tearing the paper back off to reveal layers. When I decided I was done I had a background that I really liked. But as usual I had no idea what to do with it. It hung around on my design wall for several weeks while this teeny tiny little voice in my head kept whispering " add lilies made of more inter office envelopes". I resisted. Resistance is my specialty. But I kept getting the same message and eventually I caved in and went for it. This is the first pieces I've made that my husband genuinely likes. The first piece that won an award. Hmmmm. I'm guessing that that intuitive voice in my head knows what its doing. Now I just need to learn to hear it better.
This journal page began with an ink blot. Okay, that actually traveled over here when I was experimenting on another page. I don't let it bother me. These pages had been gessoed at some earlier time and scribbled into with a stylus. Ignoring the ink blot, I began by making a grid of warm, analogous colors with my Inktense blocks and a water brush. Inktense blocks seem to work better on a gessoed page, but nonetheless, this came out looking horrible. Out came the red paint and glazing medium and I covered both pages. When that was almost dry I spritzed the pages with a little water, let it sit a minute, and then blotted with a paper towel. This is so easy and I just love the effect. Then I cut up one of the papers I had made while playing with my Gelli Arts printing plate and collaged the green elements down. Deli paper works so well for collage! After that I made a stamp using cut up pieces of fun foam that I glued to a stiff cardboard base with gel medium. I used gold acrylic paint with the stamp. I'm not sure this is done, but since I haven't decided what to do next I thought I'd at least post this much as an example of using my printing experiments for collage in my art journal.
The quote I pasted into my journal is by Thomas Moore from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life , and it reads:
"I don't share many of my colleagues enthusiasm for wholeness. I like fragments and pieces, innuendos and suggestion. I expect never to feel like a whole person, because I'm so aware of the fragmented nature of many of my emotions, the plans I have for my life, the elements of character that are never fully present or rounded off. in the same way, I like to see sculptures of a goddess with no head or arms, or just a piece of torso. Temple ruins and the remains of a civilization make much more sense in pieces than if we were to come across a ghost town intact expect for the human citizenry.
Decay, corruption, falling apart, memory, traces of the past -- these are all aspects of life that are with us every day. They may hint at failure, ignorance, or some other imperfection, but they are a significant dimension of all kinds of life, including our own interior experience."
This morning I had decided that I would write something about my own inner search for depth and meaning in my art. I have several photos of journal pages that I wanted to share here and I randomly decided to post this one. When I looked at it closely and read the quote, which I had quite forgotten, it seemed amazingly serendipitous.
After several years of making art I have hit a point where I want to go deeper. At this point I don't know quite what that means but I am searching for answers. Part of this process has been analyzing what kind of art I love, what I'm drawn to, what makes me quiver inside. I have realized that I like fragments, bits and pieces that don't really go together in a logical way, but when put together in the same space by an artist develop some kind of synergy. I like the look or torn paper, fraying fabric, and multiple layers. Art that has some kind of mystery about it delights me. I think I love abstraction precisely because I don't know what it means.
It had not occurred to me before re-reading this quote, that the reason I am drawn to fragments, chaos, and complexity, is because that is so often my own internal landscape. Before I begin to sound like I need to be committed I will also state that I am also drawn to bright colors, and beauty. So now I have a better understanding of what I like and why. The tricky part is how to pursue these revelations as I make art.
When I am working on art projects I often have paint or ink that I don't want to waste so I will open my art journal and use it on a random page. This affords me the opportunity to see if I can marry the facing pages to one another. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but often I can find a way to carry the colors or themes across both pages. Reading Randel Plowman 's book "The Collage Workbook" inspired me to try making a word collage. How wonderful to find that I had words in my collection in the colors from the facing page. This color scheme happened by accident. The right hand page had been gessoed, and one day I added the aqua/turquoise paint. Another day I was testing out two handmade stamps I had created with fun foam, so I stamped the violet paint onto the page. Yet another day I was using my new Adirondack inks on something and "stamped" the wet stencil onto the same page. All very random, and yet it ended up yielding a color combo I probably would not have thought of but I really like.
I often wonder what my art journal is for. I play around, try new materials or techniques etc. but when I am working in the journal I often wonder if I am wasting my time. I make "pretty" pictures and imitate other artists. I'd like to see my journal leading me toward the development of bigger more finished/polished art pieces, but so far that hasn't happened. I suppose at the moment my art journal just serves as a place to work in that creative mental state. So much about practicing art is a matter of faith. I have to have faith that the practice moments, the moments that don't lead to a fully formed art project, are just as valid and important as working on something more concrete. When you are an artist that works full time at a non creative day job, it is easy to feel like your precious and rare art time is wasted if you are not working on a "real" project. Just screwing around feels like wasted time. I have to have faith that all this screwing around is teaching me something even if I don't realize that I am learning.
After six months or more of working on a series of stitched pieces I finally decided it was time to wrap things up. I put away the sewing supplies, sorted the fabrics I was using back into their color coded scrap bins and moved on. For months I've been saving things I wanted to add to my art journal and thinking about taking a different tactic in approaching my art. So far I'm incredibly frustrated, but that will be another post. I've created several new journal pages that I'd share. This is just one of them, but getting the rest of the pictures sized for posting will take me a little while. Which is okay, really, as it will give me something more to post over the next week or two. When I started this journal I went through and cut windows and page edges and other things, and collaged various papers etc. randomly throughout. The other day one of my co-workers was wearing an outfit in shades of teal and copper that I really liked and I wanted to do a page spread with those colors. I thought they would like nice on the pages with a window peeping through to an unfinished spread in purple, bronze, and old paper. I'm sort of channeling Michelle Ward here, as I decided to try cutting out a mask/stencil of a leafy front and apply it in different ways on the page. Loved the effect!
More to come. Right now I have to go bug the lovely ladies as SAQA for advice on another issue. Too much to do, not enough time, and I don't want to spend all day at the computer! LOLOL.
40 West Arts is hosting another art exhibition as a part of Denver Arts Week and I will have 3 pieces in the show! I also served on the jury for this exhibition which was an interesting experience. The three pieces that I entered are rather different from my usual work, but are representative of some of the other work I am interested in doing.
Still Not Good Enough - 2012
Sometime back I posted these pieces in order to discuss the fact that I had no idea how to finish them. I simply cannot afford to frame my artwork and I don't even know if they are worth putting the money into if I could afford it. But I like them and really wanted them to get out into the world. Eventually I decided on mounting them to painted hardboard and stapling clear vinyl over the top. They have a sort of grungy graffiti look to them and I felt that the hardboard, vinyl, and staples added to the look. There is also something narrative going on there with the feminist issues and the vinyl..... I'll leave that to your imagination and personal interpretation. These photos don't show the vinyl. I knew it would be shiny and hard to photograph so I took the pictures before adding it.
How Can I Serve You? - 2012
These pieces were created with scraped acrylic paint on heavy bristol paper. I scraped, splattered, mono printed, stenciled, spray painted, etc. Happy painting abandon! Then I tore up a newspaper and reassembled it as a collage, photocopied the result and started playing with the silhouettes. As a nod to my predilection for using fabric, I included a wee bit of hand dyed cheesecloth. The collages were glued to the hardboard with gloss gel medium. Good thing too! They buckled. Even though I let them dry while weighted with heavy books. It was kind of a mess. There is an artist named Johnathan Talbot who does amazing collage. He uses a technique where he pre coats his collage materials with gloss medium and lets them dry. He then arranges his collage items into place and IRONS them down. I used this technique to place the collage silhouettes. When my pieces ended up buckled I put parchment paper of the top and ironed the heck outta them. It worked! The gel medium I used as glue fused down quite nicely! Phew!
Woman's Depth - 2012
This piece is also made of woven papers. Specifically embossed wallpaper and fabric paper that I made of all sorts of materials. I stitched purple organza flowers over the top and added the quilted bottom portion and a border.
I have some plans for this series is I can make a few dreams come true. There are several other pieces in the series but some of them aren't finished yet. More photos to come!
I recently completed this 9"x12" collage painting. Can you tell who inspired me? I'm utterly fascinated by
work. Could stare at it for hours. Her work makes me shake. That shaking feeling is what made me realize that I wanted to be an artist. Nothing but art makes me feel that way. It's like being seduced by a new lover. Back to the painting.... This actually began as an experiment inspired by one of
techniques where you dip a pipe cleaner in ink and feather it across the page and then scrape various colors of paint over the top with a credit card. Great idea! All my attempts looked like crap. Sigh. I put the papers away for a while and recently dug them out to see if I had any ideas. The I took another look at Lynne Perrella's series based on Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and some ideas took off. Stencil's and tar gel and t-shirt transfer paper, oh my! It was great fun and I'm really happy with it.