Art Festival Mural Project

April 29, 2008 at 10:21 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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The beginning of May is near and I’m thinking back over the past busy month. This mural stood out as a fun creative idea that needs mentioning. Many participants, ranging from a 3 year-old, to someone in her 80’s, completed this mural. The occasion was the South Fork School First Arts Festival held on a sunny Saturday at the end of March.

My idea was to put together an art experience with a large scale work that people could plunge into and… one that wouldn’t be intimidating.  On matboard I loosely sketched a 5′ x 36″ fish drawing, which I then cut up into 6″ squares, so 60 squares in all. Most of the square images consisted of parts of the bigger image so there was an abstract quality to them. There was a small photo showing the complete image for initial reference, but the idea was that the approach would be free form. Each person that walked into the workshop completed a square, in whatever manner they wanted, using colored pencils and/or markers. Some of the kids did a couple of squares. The finished squares were then mounted on two foamcore panels recreating the original composition, and sprayed with a fixative to be hung in the school community room. A separate chart linked names to the individual images.

If this had been a workshop completed over several days, or with a specific group, they would have designed their own mural initially and the materials would have been expanded. I have seen something similar done with ceramic tile for instance. However, this particular approach worked well for a situation where people wandered in and out of the workshop throughout the 5-6 hours of the festival.

I think they did a terrific job!

Black, White & Red

April 23, 2008 at 9:52 am | Posted in Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Salt & Pepper Cat

As the mask series developed the images became characters. Salt & Pepper is a composite of all the feral cats I’ve known, the independent ones that wander through periodically or stay awhile, sleep under the deck and let you feed them, but who always maintain a certain distance.

Hadrian was the toughest one of that bunch. His character traits were on my mind as I worked on this. He lived in this canyon for at least eight years dodging coyotes, raccoons, bobcats and other predators. Once I saw him hold his ground and not flinch in the face of a barking, snapping dog, surely knowing that to turn and run would invite disaster. Yet he was capable of babysitting kittens on the lawn letting them pounce on him and chew his ears. He’d be gone for months at a time and then suddenly appeared again. He resisted most of my attempts to tame him, but as he aged he didn’t mind spending a snowy night in the garage in a blanketed box. Here’s to you Hadrian!

The Green Made Me Do It

April 16, 2008 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Viridis Praying Mantis

I take it back already, the part about the collage series being about animal masks as this collage depicts an insect. There are a couple of birds also… so let’s just say the mask collage series is mainly about fauna, no frolicking fauns to be found-but mostly fauna, one flora, and one harlequin. The harlequin fits into what category?  Into masks and art.

I’m dancing around words here working myself up to discussing the color green. In the distant past, green was not my favorite hue. This didn’t apply to green in nature. Nature was the natural home for green, deep forest green in plants; pine green in trees and vivid grass green. Visually I would roll and delight in nature’s green. But no icky green in clothes, man-made surroundings or furnishings for me…and I had difficulty using green in paintings. Weird! Perhaps the aversion developed because my mother had a thing for the color green and persimmon orange and would use them together freely whenever she could.

Geez, maybe it could have been used to explain away my teenage rebellion “She had artistic sensibilities and was forced to live with a huge, olive green, sectional sofa…and orange pillows, a difficult combination for her, so she became quite irrational”.

If only life was that simple. Although now I understand how colors affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

At some point in my art development I confronted green in my work realizing that dancing around that was ridiculously limiting. I did an all green painting. It was awkward and the resulting work was unremarkable but it pushed me unto a new level. Which is the whole point here. Creative growth demands that we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, whatever they may be (as I imagine some must be snickering about the color obsession here).

If we are to progress and fully engage our imagination we need to continually explore alternative perspectives. Don’t think that this applies to artists exclusively. Creativity is a natural brain function for all, but that’s another bit of writing.

While making this collage the combinations of green patterns in the various papers delighted me. I’ve learned to embrace the green! That is, I pushed my limitations and welcomed what propelled me onward toward greater understanding.

Approaching Collage

April 14, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | 1 Comment
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Shadow the Bulldog

The thirteen images that form the heart of the Stranger Than Fiction Mask Image Collage Series were created on watercolor paper using exotic papers, rice papers, and other handmade papers I’ve collected.

At first with The Lion collage, or My What Big Teeth You Have, I was working rather blindly, that is, arranging colors, textures, and shapes until a direction/idea began to form about what it was going to be. I use several different approaches when creating a work. With the initial collage it began purely as a design process. It could have remained at that stage, pure design, a composition of color and shapes that pleased me. However, a lion mask emerged, perhaps as I started that collage during August ’07…so I followed where it led me to the final content and the idea that the series would be about mask images.

Probably this explanation could make some people nervous, but what I’m really doing is trusting the process. The approach is essentially intuitive knowing there are ideas kept inside me, just waiting for their chance to come out and make themselves heard.

I continued the basic design approach with the next two collages and it wasn’t until I was working on this fourth collage, Shadow the Bulldog, that I was able to visualize the whole series. That it would be revolve around the natural world and animal masks.

The Lion didn’t make the final cut for the thirteen, I love the image but you’ll notice it sits on the paper different that the other two, and all the ones to follow. Oh, and this one’s a French Bulldog!

Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.-Henri Matisse

Purple Plant Masks do exist…

April 12, 2008 at 8:33 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | 2 Comments
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Pythia Plant

Purple Plant masks do exist…as do Starry-eyed Harlequin masks, and so it is for all of  the mask images in the Stranger Than Fiction mask Image Collage Series. For in the creative realm all things are likely. Masks fascinate me. Every culture has some form of them whether it is in all seriousness, masks connected to African rites of passage for instance; or the playfulness of donning Halloween or carnival masks. They are disguise but may represent archetypes and the varied dimensions of the human character. It is the associations that interest me, and the nature of something hidden, not necessarily the actual 3-dimensional rendering of a wearable mask. Therefore I create 2-dimensional mask designs. A Fine Masquerade.

Wildflower Alert!

April 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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For days the wind has howled in the canyon, probably at 40-50 miles per hour or more. But suddenly it has let up some. This morning’s air was warmer and the hillsides vivid with creamcups, golden poppies, purple brodiaea, goldfields, and white popcorn flowers; all the wildflowers that didn’t dare open themselves up to the wind are now blooming gloriously.

There are many ways to look at the world and to make art. My viewpoint tends toward abstraction and often those ideas are spontaneous or visualized. However, you’ve got to know what it is you are abstracting. There are times when I draw representationally from a subject in order to really see what is out there, and in order to keep my eye to hand skills sharp, and for the meditative discipline of it. Still, there is always the process of interpretation that occurs. This is a drawing of a California poppy or Eschscholzia californica. They range in color from pale yellow to gold to blazing orange.

More on the International Collage Exhibition

April 8, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Posted in Art Exhibitions | 1 Comment
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Happy Harlequin by Joan

The Tenth International Collage Exhibit and Exchange in New Zealand is showing at the Real Tart Gallery through the month of April 2008 . Two collage artworks each from 159 artists from around the world are shown online at: Tenth International Collage Exhibit .

From The Studio: The Stranger Than Fiction Mask Image Collage Series

April 8, 2008 at 11:01 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | 1 Comment
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My What Big Teeth You Have-The Lion

I’ve often created collages as mock-ups for paintings. It’s a step beyond doing a thumbnail sketch as prep for a painting. It’s a quick way to consider colors, placement and overall design, particularly for more representational work.

These particular collages did not begin as considerations for paintings; rather they were created for the Tenth International Collage Exhibit & Exchange. While working on the first few, the idea of a series developed. This was the image that led it off.

Imagination Embraces The World

April 1, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 

This is a popular quote. It’s on one of my favorite flaunting art t-shirts. However, the extended quote reads.  

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” –Albert Einstein.1   

So what did he mean by that? Coming from a scientist who has brought forth much new knowledge it seems contradictory until you meditate on it a bit.

Knowledge= facts, information, data, the lowdown, what we consider to be concrete measurable stuff. Some think it is truth.

Imagination= vision, inspiration, invention, passion, curiosity, daydreams, open-ended ideas that are immeasurable.

Einstein understood that imagination is about possibilities. Knowledge is what we know in the here and now, it may be faulty and limited. Think back a few hundred years, or even in this century, as to what was known and considered to be “the truth”. Our curiosity about possibilities leads to new knowledge. The ability of the human brain to imagine is what keeps us moving forward.

 1. from  “What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” in The Saturday Evening Post (26 October 1929)

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