Monday, December 26, 2016

Fear Not

Fear Not      
 mixed media collage, 9 x 5 inches
ingredients: map fragments, vintage book pages, image transfers, watercolor pencils, mica, stitching

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie

“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.”
Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Friday, December 16, 2016

Broken Girl - the Art of Recycling

Here is the finished version of the collage I was working on in the last two posts (here and here):

Broken Girl, mixed media collage on vintage book cover
ingredients: cabinet photo, vintage book pages and torn papers, vintage ephemera, watercolor pencils, stitching

The edges are cropped because it didn't quite fit on the scanner, and it's been way too dark and cold here to take good photos. (I take them outside in open shade.)  As you may remember if you're a regular reader, the torn pieces of layered papers on the right side started out as a completely different collage. I wasn't happy with the way it was going, so I incorporated it into a very different type of collage, i.e. one where the composition is more planned out and less abstract.  This doesn't usually happen, and I certainly didn't predict this turn of events when I started taking photos for my blog. These aren't the posts I had intended to write, but I thought it might be interesting for people to see what happens when things don't go as planned.

One thing I learned some time ago in my art-making explorations is that there's nothing wrong with tearing one piece up to make another; in fact, that's how I first began playing with collage. I didn't start out to become a collage artist, but as I tried making compositions with pieces of discarded work, I became hooked on the collage process as well as its outcomes. I love taking pieces of old ephemera that would otherwise be thrown out and combining them into something new. They bring with them something of the time they are from and the people who used them, which I think adds depth and meaning to the work.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams
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"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
-- Scott Adams

“We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
― Bob Ross

Friday, December 9, 2016

Destruction, and a New Life

A very melodramatic way to describe the second day in the life of our collage, right?  However, I'd have to say it's pretty accurate.

Here's how I left it last night; it was going nowhere, as far as I could see.

I'd had this idea floating around in my head for a few days, using a particular cabinet card photo of a young girl, something nebulous about a lost or broken girl.

You can kind of see her here, amidst the flotsam and jetsam. When I peeled the photo off the card, it tore, but that didn't really bother me.

I had recently found an old set of encyclopedias from 1971 in my basement. Jackpot! I removed the cover from one of them and sanded it to get the slick finish off so that things would adhere to it more easily, also making it look older.

I had already glued the girl together on a piece of an old engineering drawing, and given her a flower hat. Here's where the collage met its fate.

I ripped it into pieces, and laid some of them out on the book cover with the girl.  Not bad. Now we're getting somewhere.

 But where?

 So, putting things on and taking them off, trying to decide which I like best...

 No, way too much...

 So, imagine this happening about a hundred more times...

I feel like I'm getting close, except for that skirt-thing.  Sooner or later...

...I have the basis of my composition laid out. Time to start gluing!  Soon I'll post the finished piece.

p.s. You might see other pieces of the original collage turn up here or there later on...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Collage

It started this way:

I had an old watercolor of a tree that I didn't want any more, so I thought I might recycle it and use it as the base for a collage.

First, I glued some brightly colored pieces of an old museum guide onto it, since I wanted to be able to scrape through to show bits of color.

Then, I covered the entire thing with pieces of vintage paper from old books, drawings, and sheet music.

I immediately added a second layer because it's easier to scrape or rub off when still damp from the glue. (I use matte gel medium as my adhesive.)

Here's a close-up view. I have to apologize for the poor photo quality, as it's been very dark and dreary here, and there's not really enough light to get a good photo with my phone.

Here it is after I scraped some of the papers off to reveal the colored paper underneath.  I call this the "Glaaaaaaah!!!" stage - when a piece gets to the point where I'm either going to throw it away or cover it up again; in other words, I hate it. Could I make a decent composition out of it? Probably, but right now I'm not seeing it.

My studio and materials were also in a complete state of "glaaaah!", but I still couldn't leave well enough alone...

 I glued some more papers on, then rubbed some more off (lather, rinse, repeat) .... and this is how I left it for the night.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what happens to our poor, pitiful collage. Will it live to see another day?  I'm not so sure...

Monday, December 5, 2016

Spring Morning

Spring Morning
mixed media collage, 6 x 4.5 inches
ingredients: monotype, watercolor pencils, vintage ephemera

I haven't been keeping up with my weekly quick collage series, since I've been so busy doing other things. I'm unsure whether I'll go back to it or not; I'll just have to see how it goes. In the meantime, here's a little piece I did recently. I know it's out of season, but at this time of year it can be nice to remind ourselves that Spring will come, eventually.

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Under The Stars

Under the Stars, 10.5 x 8.5 inches
ingredients: vintage book cover; vintage book parts, ephemera, and sheet music; found objects (antique optical lens), stitching

This one is definitely a maximalist piece. The spell check informs me that this not a real word, but it is because I just made it up! To me, it is the opposite of minimalism; in other words, did I go too far? Everything but the kitchen sink, right? For some reason, however, I think it works. Everything, after all is under the stars.

This piece is available for purchase on my website, here, along with several different-sized prints of the piece. Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Artists For Love

Browsing through the blogs I follow, I have noticed a common theme lately. Many of us are searching for a way to deal with and heal from the images and words of soul-draining discord, hatred, and fear that surrounds us. At times it has just been too difficult to watch the news, to see the mess that humans are making of the world, and the unrest that plagues our country. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, it can have a negative affect on my health, and I need to disengage from it from time to time. Some friends have said they are taking a break from facebook and/or other social media, or that they're staying offline altogether.

Strategy: Focus on the good things - like this gorgeous sunset.

Ironically, however, I have found much comfort from my blogger and facebook friends, as they share not only their fears and doubts, but also their encouragement, love, and inspiration. There are many wonderful people in the world, whose words of hope and inspiration are like healing drops of wisdom that have washed over my soul. Words do indeed heal; in art there is much power if we choose to see it.

For instance, I found these wise words on Terri Windling's beautiful blog, Myth and Moor: "... Stories do not give instruction, they do not explain how to love a companion or how to find God. They offer, instead, patterns of sound and association, of event and image. Suspended as listeners and readers in these patterns, we might reimagine our lives. It is through story that we embrace the great breadth of memory, that we can distinguish what is true, and that we may glimpse, at least occasionally, how to live without despair in the midst of the horror that dogs and unhinges us."    ~ Barry Lopez

Terri also shares these thoughts from Toni Morrison:
Troubled times, she says, are "precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
"I know the world is bruised and bleeding," she adds, "and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge -- even wisdom. Like art."

Don't forget that the world is still filled with breath-taking beauty.

I found great inspiration in these and other words by Effy Wild, who is a facebook friend, an artist, a teacher, and a wonderfully articulate writer. In a recent blog post, she writes: "I realized, thanks to a few shining lights in my universe, that all I could do in the face of this was *what I already do* but more fiercely. With more love. More compassion. More emphasis on mutual understanding. And better boundaries....
But before I, personally, could do anything, I had to give myself space to feel what I felt. Rage. Mistrust. Deep, feminine wounding. Fear. All of it had to rise up, and all of it needed expressing.
And once I'd done that, I knew that the right answer for me was to do more of the same, but more fiercely.  I knew that the right answer, for me, was to treat everyone like they are God In Drag (thank you, Ram Dass), and to remember, above all else, that We Are All Just Walking Each Other Home (more Ram Dass)."
I agree. More of the same, but more fiercely. Please read the entire post; in fact, you'd be well served to read everything she writes.

The world is still full of random beauty...

 Then, I found this on Seth Apter's blog, The Altered Page.  Seth has always been an artist and blogger who has focused on bringing people together, generously coming up with exciting projects that promote collaboration among members of the art blogging community.  In this blog post, he says, "We are all individuals with complex experiences, unique ideas, personal histories, and our very own baggage. This guarantees that life will be complicated and challenging. However, this post stands as a reminder of the importance of support, love, acceptance and respect. Always. And the rejection of bigotry and intolerance to difference. Always.

For me, this is not about who voted for who -- although I know for many that cannot be dismissed. For me, this is about something bigger than the election. This is about taking an individual step toward a collective healing. Naive? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely.

In that vein, a group of artists have created the hashtag #artistsforlove. Use it, embrace it, share it. I first read about it here and then here.  Take the time to click the links and see how you can join this movement and create your own poster that celebrates rather than diminishes inclusivity and love."

Thank you, Seth, Effy, Terri and everyone who promotes tolerance and love.


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Heart Wants What it Wants

The Heart Wants What it Wants
ingredients: vintage ephemera, magazine cut-outs, image transfers

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
Read more at:
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
Read more at:
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
Read more at:
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”
―  Blaise Pascal

“What should I do about the wild and the tame? The wild heart that wants to be free, and the tame heart that wants to come home. I want to be held. I don't want you to come too close. I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at nights. I don't want to tell you where I am. I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me. I want to be with you.”
― Jeanette Winterson

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wind and Water

I had forgotten all about this, the piece that was in the "Think Square" exhibition over a year ago. Going through photos of my work a few minutes ago, I realized I had never shared it here on my blog, or anywhere online. So, anyway, here it is.

Wind and Water
monotype with mixed media, 5 x 5 inches

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Taking Refuge

Taking Refuge
ingredients: antique handwritten letter fragments, Italian currency, vintage ephemera, image transfers, ginko leaf, monoprint

To take refuge is to commit oneself to the Buddhist path. According to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

"In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion and associate oneself with wakefulness. Taking refuge is a matter of commitment and acceptance and, at the same time, of openness and freedom. By taking the refuge vow we commit ourselves to freedom.

“I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the dharma.
I take refuge in the sangha.”

So becoming a refugee is acknowledging that we are homeless and groundless, and it is acknowledging that there is really no need for home, or ground. Taking refuge is an expression of freedom, because as refugees we are no longer bounded by the need for security. We are suspended in a no-man’s land in which the only thing to do is to relate with the teachings and with ourselves."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This Fall at Shabo-Mekaw

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may recall that we had a bad storm this Spring, which brought a "micro-burst" (which I believe is like a small tornado) that took down several of our huge oak trees.

 Five or six of them were laying across the drive, and were just too large for my husband and I to handle, so we got a logger to come in and remove them.

Loggers only take the main trunk of the tree, however, so we were left with a lot of this kind of mess to clean up.

Larger branches were cut into firewood, while smaller ones were burned. Let's just say we won't need to cut firewood for a very long time.

 The log cabin looks so strange without the trees that used to frame it. To the left of it were two white oaks and a black oak.One of the white oaks was dead, and they were both very close to the cabin, so we decided to have them both taken down. During this process, the black oak was hit by one of the white oaks - which we knew was unfortunately very likely to happen.

The place looks even more naked because we had them cut a huge pine which was only a few feet from the front door, and had had most of its branches torn off by the fall of a tree across the driveway, which had been blown down in a storm a couple of years ago. Though these were all prudent measures to keep the cabins from being damaged, it still looks to me as if something important is missing. I'm sure I'll get used to it, though, in time.

We haven't had any rain to speak of for a while, and the water level in the Kinniconick is very low.

On this day, the weather was perfect - the sky a clear azure blue with a few puffy clouds, the trees beginning to reveal their fall colors.

These are plentiful down by the creek, and are actually kind of pretty - until you start trying to pull them out of your dogs' fur.

Cardinal flowers always grow near the creek in the late summer to early fall, the brilliance of their color standing out against the grey rocks.

Looking up from the bottom of this huge sycamore tree, I'm struck by the light's effect on the changing leaves.

Here, I'm standing on the island, gazing across the "swirl hole" towards our little "beach". As it rounds the bend  and splits to go around the island, there is very little water in either branch.

Even the flowers that have gone to seed still have their own kind of beauty...

Walking up the creek, I was able to go much further than usual, and even cross it without getting my feet wet.  Normally, the rocks you're seeing here are under water.

Fall flowers are not finished yet, and I'm surprised by all the different kinds growing here so late in the season.

Arlo set up a big ruckus, as he stopped up ahead of me and began barking, growling, and whining at something on the ground. Knowing his hatred of snakes, I was afraid he had found a copperhead, and hurried, though cautiously, to where he was. You'll notice that, in true Arlo fashion, he has already rolled in something black and slimy. What he was barking his head off at was an evil, horrendous, dog-eating box turtle, and a rather small one at that. Sheesh! Apparently his fear extends to all reptiles in general.

Sunny and Arlo have crossed the creek to investigate and are on their way back. You can just barely see Sunny swimming in the distance.

These are a type of lobelia; I've forgotten which species.

A wider shot looking up the creek...

Turning to look down the creek toward the swirl hole...

I hope you enjoyed the sights here at Shabo-Mekaw on this gorgeous fall day. If you're interesting in finding out more about our beautiful country get-away, there are more posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Happy fall (or spring, as the case may be), everyone!