Monday, December 5, 2016

New Work: Songs of Weather

Songs of Weather
Painted paper collage on paper
each image approx 15" x 18"

These three pieces were completed over the last two weeks. I started with a cropped version of an earlier piece. (I zoomed in on it and cropped out a section to come up with a composition-thanks Julie!) When the first piece was finished I still had paper left over, a fair amount of it. I re cropped several more sections of the original composition to come up with the other two pieces. My thought here is that there isn't a need to reinvent the wheel. Color and shape can be manipulated endlessly without having to do something new each time. As long as I am interested this is a good way for me to work.

The above pieces were inspired by my ideas of the weather and of my landscape. We have had a lot of gray days here recently. There has been all sorts of weather: winds, rain, cloudy days and lots of cold temperatures.  The landscape here is beautiful at all times of the year but especially so during the winter. The color of the sky accentuates the ochre and red colors of the dirt. The moisture from the rain heightens the colors of the dying oak leaves and other bushes. The water at the lake, reflecting the stormy sky, is a steely gray-blue color. Talk about subtle drama. 

Because I have been out so much or maybe because I have reached for inspiration and come up somewhat empty, I have turned back to the landscape to get things going. There is no going wrong with art when nature's colors are the source of creativity. And while I won't likely turn back to traditional landscape painting, I feel like I can at least draw on something concrete (for me) to create my art. The combination of shape and color allows me to interpret what I see in the landscape. It feels to me like there are some possibilities.

OK, thanks for reading and commenting.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Work: Not One The Same; Thoughts on Arts and Crafts

Not One The Same
collage-painted papers on board
20" x 20"
The title refers to a much less complicated version of the quote by Heraclitus about not being able to step in to the same river twice. I only meant to allude to the fact that this piece follows the same design as the last piece only of course, it isn't the same! I was able to duplicate some of the values and sizes of each shape from the previous piece but as is often the case I couldn't really duplicate things to the letter. I don't seem to be able to make the same design twice I guess. I have tried before and have had issues. And at some point towards the end of the process, it made better sense to change things. It reminded me that each piece calls for its own choices so replicating the last piece didn't work anyway. I had different colors in front of me and different ideas. And that is where the Heraclitus quote came in to the picture! 

As I work I write down ideas or words or whatever it is that comes to mind about what I am doing. I noticed this time that I worked in a very methodical way which was enjoyable to me. One of the things that took time was wrapping some of the edges of the papers around to the sides of the board. I found this process of working with wet and fragile paper to be challenging in a good way. I got to thinking about wrapping paper around 3-dimensional objects and that got me thinking about crafts. What I wrote down in my sketchbook was "The art of craft and the craft of art." After only a short period of time of being creative (9 years) I feel that both art and craft go together. To me, the word "craft" has to do with technical skill or what someone might call a "hard" skill. How well can an artist use their materials? The word "art", in my mind, refers to a less tangible quality, what someone might call a "soft" skill. I think of it as the elusive skill of creativity, the bringing together of disparate ideas to create one unique idea. As I folded the wet paper to the side of the board I felt that for me, neatness and control really counts. I needed to be able to manipulate the fragile wet paper with a fairly deft hand. It could have ripped. To me, that is craft; the handling of materials in a skilled way. It seemed that the "art' part was more about choosing colors and determining size and placement of shapes. Collage really uses both art and craft to great advantage. The medium is very versatile in this way.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Work: Full Circle to Form a Square

Full Circle to Form a Square
20" x 20"
painted paper collage on board
The titles that I give these pieces are often funnier in my head. This phrase has been part of my vocabulary for quite some time. I have no idea where it came from or really, what it might mean. I have always used it in a funny way (to me) to express the idea that oftentimes when we are searching for something, we try a lot of different things only to wind up back where we started our search. With me, I started making art when I began quilting. I never though thought of it as an "art" form. It is though and one with a very long and revered history. I have jumped around so much over the past 9 years that it was funny to me that with this piece, I felt like I was coming home. It clicks for me now: the order, the variation, the sheer versatility of the geometry involved. There is an orderliness to this, in my mind anyway, that is extremely appealing to my personality. It's all of the possibilities that can be had with squares, rectangles, and color. If only I can be smart enough to figure things out. I am not sure about the smart part but I sure enjoyed making this piece.  By the way, the origin of the phrase, "full circle to form a square" might actually be in geometry! Here is a link to what I think the phrase really means.

To anyone still reading, please have a wonderful and thanks filled holiday. We are all blessed.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New work: Escape Artist; Art and Home Brewing

Escape Artist
image size 15" x 18" approx
collage on paper
It's good that I keep a journal/sketchbook. Rather than feeling like I haven't been doing anything this week, I can see that I have been painting papers and sketching ideas. It is important to me to spend time doing those things. Those activities feed the collages.

The above piece was completed last weekend.  The title for the piece is kind of a play on words I guess. All of those little circles, to me, look like they are running around trying to escape. I have also been looking at the mechanical art of Tom Harold. His kinetic sculptures remind me of mousetraps or something. A game perhaps? I can't really say what. Anyway, if anyone reading is interested, I recommend that link. Read his "about" page. If I wasn't already married I'd hop on a plane to go snag this guy. Talk about a kindred spirit!

While the idea for this piece got away from me a bit, I am happy with the results. All of these efforts are supposed to be leading me to make the art I want right? So, I figure each step is a refinement. (As well as an exercise in learning humility over and over again!) Incidentally, I have explained this to my husband many times with regard to his beer making efforts. He is a home brewer (it's his hobby) and has done it on and off for many years. In the last two years, he has started up again with up to date equipment and ideas. His first efforts (maybe a dozen or so) have all been part of the learning curve. Because he has done it before, he expected  to do well right off the bat. The learning curve has been frustrating for him. The whole thing, in my mind, is just like learning to paint. You don't know what you don't know right? You can study up as much as possible, read lots of books and blog posts. Until you actually do it though, multiple times over, you won't know how things really work. Or even what your final goal will be. Beer making and art are both creative processes. There is a lot of trial and error. Rich doesn't quite believe me though. I don't think I will ever get even close to where I would  like to be. Try convincing the Brew Meister of this lesson. Good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Work: Build a Better Mousetrap

Build a Better Mousetrap
image size 15" x 18"
collage on paper

Title taken from the song performed by Peggy Lee and Art Lund, 1942. Recorded by Benny Goodman and written by Johnny Mercer. What more could you want?


Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Work: Bye Bye Blues

Bye Bye Blues
collage on paper
image size 15" x 18"
The title of the piece is taken from a song that was playing while I was working. Bye Bye Blues performed by Cab Calloway and his orchestra, is a much sung and recorded jazz standard from 1930. If interested, a brief history of the piece is here. Where would we all be today without such great music to listen to? 

I admit that this piece almost didn't get finished. I don't remember ever giving up on one of these collage pieces before but I certainly was ready to do that this time. My notes say that I want to work with bigger shapes and larger areas of color. Fewer shapes really. My reasoning has to do with working bigger in general. These pieces are small. Working bigger would, in my mind, require larger shapes, more contrast and perhaps greater chroma. Seeing things from a distance is very different from seeing them close up. I know from being at shows and museums that value and color patterns are very obvious from across the room. They can be strong and draw a person in. Not so much close up, however. Close up is for details right? This is just how I see things. I got all bunched up with this though as I was working and got very stuck. I didn't get unstuck until I hit on the idea of adding more of the darker blue color. Things started to come together after that.

Maybe there is a lesson here not to give up so easily. Can't be sure. I would like to have more curvilinear (my word) shapes rather than strictly rectilinear shapes. That is my own idea. How to do it though I don't know. Not yet anyway. 

OK, almost Friday! Yippee! I have gone to the grocery store and am ready for any rain that might actually fall out of the sky, no matter how small the amount. 

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Saturday, October 8, 2016

New Work: Easy to Dance With

Easy To Dance With
collage on paper
approx size 15" x 18"
On Thursday I left the house to go to the Bay Area, thinking that this piece was finished. I got back later that day and had a look at things. What had seemed good that morning just wasn't working that afternoon! So, on Friday, I futzed around with things until I had something a little different, something that didn't feel crowded and busy to me and that was a better "structure." Must remember that more is not necessarily better. And in fact, I find that when I am adding a greater number of smaller pieces I know that something larger is wrong or that I have missed something else entirely.

As I work on these pieces I take notes. Mostly the notes are brief and describe something I discovered or something that I am re-learning. There are lots of notes on re-learning! This time I was reminded (again) that very often there is a moment when things "click." I'll be going along, placing shapes and not knowing what is happening. My mind doesn't snag on anything. All of a sudden though, I will add a piece and there is this "a ha!" moment when the whole thing sort of coalesces into something tangible. I can see something that tells me things will work. I can almost see several steps ahead too which is better than stepping off the precipice into a complete void. I wonder why we set ourselves up to work like this? 

The title of the piece is of course taken from the song that I was listening to while working. I love Swing music, Big band, and whatever else goes along with that time period. The song, You're Easy to Dance With was playing. I thought about the movie with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn. I watch the movie nearly every year at Christmas time, of course. Watching Fred Astaire dance is a marvelous thing. Anyway, that was the inspiration as I was working.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.