The Collage Process Explained

October 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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  1. First there’s a rough idea for paper collage design, or two or three ideas.
  2. Scanning your immaculately organized studio, you consider the backing/support. Heavy watercolor paper, Bristol board, museum board? Rummaging through a drawer, a file, a cart, you pull considerations out onto the desk.
  3. You bring out the stored decorative and handmade-papers. Seeing the colorful bags sorted by type and size, you feel so TOGETHER.
  4. You plug in a Mozart tape.collage-table
  5. Tear. Cut. Snip. Hey! Let’s make four different collages at once, or more!
  6. At the counter, arrange, and rearrange the paper shapes on the backings. You vaguely notice that there’s an equal amount of bits and pieces on the floor.
  7. They need something else, pop the lid off that other bin of collected oddments!
  8. By now, every studio drawer should be hanging precariously open.
  9. You didn’t notice that the music ended long ago.
  10. For the fifth time you’ve misplaced the small and large scissors, and can’t find the Xacto-knife.
  11. You bring out more scissors. Plus you consider a yellow silk ribbon; 5 inches of orange cotton cord; 1960’s stickers of a chicken, a t.v., a hula girl, and a rubber duckie; a vintage matchbox; a soap wrapper from India with elephants; and textured metal buttons. None of which you’ll use.
  12. Right about here, every surface in the studio should be covered with collage materials. The purple papers are in the orange bag, and the tans have disappeared. You feel, MMM…words fail.file-drawers-top
  13. It’s time to glue: with paste or acrylic medium depending on the paper’s weight.
  14. You glue  in layers, covering each in pieces of plastic drop cloth, so they won’t stick to the big art history text you weight them down with to dry. There’s likely a place left on the floor to put them.pastes
  15. Another layer, more stuff.
  16. If you did it right so far, the palette knife for the paste is glued to a CD cover; the acrylic medium brush is best friends with a paper towel; one shoe is stuck to the floor, and the other is trailing a bit of Thai pink mulberry paper; there is unexplained ink on your hands.
  17. Then, suddenly, you are finished- can’t remember when you started, but it’s dark now. Looking around at the chaos, you feel GOOD.
  18. That’s right, collage had its way with you.
  19. The next morning it takes an hour, or two, to reorganize, put back, wipe down …you find the scissors, and the bag with the tans under the canvas cart.
  20. You arrange some of the collages for a photo shoot.

    Collage Postcards by Joan Desmond 2013

    ©2013, Joan Desmond, Collage Postcards.

  21. Hah! such a clean and tidy pic.
  22. Collaged, mail art postcards, ready for messages, addresses, and stamps. For the Grandkids. Sending some art through the mail.


January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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doodle detail by Joan Desmond 2013

©2013, Joan Desmond, doodle detail.

Webster’s defines doodle as: (to) dawdle; trifle; an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch; also: a minor work; Synonymous with fooling around, messing around, fiddling, puttering, etc. The definitions imply that simply making marks on paper, idly, is something unworthy of serious consideration. I once believed that also. My understanding is different now. Now, I see doodling as very similar to intuitive painting. Art is all about making marks.

As a method, doodling is a great brainstorming, block breaking, and creative thinking exercise. Much different than an observational drawing or a planned composition, drawing without a set goal can access the subconscious and key into universal symbols, such as the circle, spiral and triangle. Doodling can also be a starting point. A writer will scribble a word or bits of thought on a scrap of a paper, a napkin, or a receipt, ideas that may develop into an essay, a poem. Similarly, a doodle may be the seed of something else, lead to new directions, highlight concerns, or exist on its own. Here, my doodle detail reminds me again of a love of pattern, and oh Yeah! a reoccurring artistic preoccupation with all things bird, wings, and flight.

Doodle On!

March is Youth Art Month

March 19, 2012 at 11:14 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Sponsored by the Council for Art Education, Youth Art Month is observed annually throughout the month of March. The goal is to spotlight and support quality art education for all children.

I’ll quote off their page which reflects my thoughts on the subject.

“…art education is often wrongly considered a “fringe” program.  In reality, it provides students skills they will need as adults.  Art education develops self-esteem and self expression, as well as appreciation for the work of others.  It also develops critical thinking skills that will be important as children continue their education and as they enter the working world.  Our fast-changing environment will require that future leaders – today’s children – be creative and imaginative in problem-solving.  These skills are learned best by students involved in art.”

Art builds brains and hearts. Encourage art making in your home, your schools, and community.


Local students created these fun entries of recycled art that are on display in the Community Room, at the Kern River Valley Branch of the Kern County Library, 7054 Lake Isabella Blvd., Lake Isabella, from March 17, 2012 through March 31, 2012. The exhibit will close at 4 p.m. on March 31, 2012. The exhibit is part of the Living Green in the Kern River Valley Festival.

Winescapes- The 6-liter Canvas

April 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Art Studio | 1 Comment
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Until I hefted one I really had no idea how big a 6-liter wine bottle was.

The idea was to “art it up” for a benefit auction at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. I had never worked with a bottle before. When you first brainstorm on an art project, tons of ideas come to mind. You entertain all ideas, from the silly to the fantastic. I considered drilling holes, attaching metal extensions, etching into, gluing onto, putting inside off, shall it be wrapped in grapevines? The whole gamut entertained just to shake loose ideas. In the end the decision was to paint onto. I do love to paint! I’m also painting other landscapes. The idea of a Dionysius ‘scape seemed fitting.

by Joan Desmond 2010

I practiced on a couple of smaller bottles to see the effects of the various mediums on glass. The final decision included some of the luscious interference and duochrome acrylic paint from Daniel Smith. They give the image a rich, reflective quality. I also wanted to keep some of the glass exposed as there is always a relationship between the material and the message, and this was a “glass-see-though-with-depth bottle”. For the main image, which you may recognize as a re-creation of a much larger, 62″, oil painting of mine, a thin application of Yes Paste was used to attach a rectangle of paper. This gave it opaqueness and surface stability. Then a layer of gesso was applied and then the paint. The lettering is in acrylic applied to the glass over gesso, with no paper. Afterwards, for a protective coat it was sealed with thinned Golden Soft Gel.

So just how large is a 6-liter bottle? Here’s a comparison.


“Winescapes -wine tasting and auction”, will be held on Wednesday, April 21 from 6:30pm- 8:30pm at:  the Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R St., Bakersfield, CA

Cardboard, cds, old mags, bubble wrap, fruit stickers, wood scraps, cereal boxes…

March 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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Collage “Bird Mask” by J. Desmond- recycled mags & other papers

What discarded items are lurking around your house waiting to be transformed into art? By brainstorming, considering possibilities, anything can become a medium for creative expression.

There’s a freedom in it. Recycling and repurposing bypasses the need for purchasing specialized materials: canvas, paint, special paper, and such. Plus it alleviates the oft seen, beginner’s intimidation when confronted with an array of expensive art stuff.

You just plunge in—imagine, conceive, pile up, cut, tear, organize, design, glue, hammer, and lose yourself in the process. Sometimes it’s just about the process, about voicing your expression, and sometimes you will come up with a thing worth keeping.

Starting Wednesday evening, March 17through March 19, 2010, there’s an art exhibit featuring such recycled art at the Odd Fellows Hall,50 Tobias St, Kernville, California.It will highlight a display by local students answering the theme ofHow Do You Green at Home, Work, or School?

This is part of the 2010 Living Green Kern River Valley Festivalto be held March 17 thru 21, 2010 in California.

Singing In The Rain, Singing In the Art Studio

February 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Excuse me while I digress from visual art, again, as there’s the rhythm talk on this blog also. It all started in a fit of studio cleaning with Foreigner blasting from the CD player, fast feet, drumming hands, and singing. Allegedly, also involved was half a bar of Green & Black organic milk chocolate with peanuts. Fiery energy whirled ‘round the space. Aside from the shoe shuffling, floor sweeping was neglected, but the counters, palette area, and drawing table are cleared, ready to go now.

Creativity all comes from the same place as we are expressive creatures, it just takes various forms. Our human bodies are tools and instruments; from our brains, eyes, mouths, to hands to feet and shaking hips. Exploring all of it is just natural, enhances life and gives me insights for the visual work.

And sometimes, when there’s a snag in the creative process, or when the pipe feels clogged, doing a 180 is exactly what is needed. At times a walk clears the head, or I pull out music, the drum, the guitar, the twinkling toes. It’s a swirling out to the edges process so I can come back to center refreshed.

I certainly don’t consider the other artistic expressions equally to my visual art as the originality is not there. I haven’t given it enough time for that. My art images come from inside of me, from my soul. With music, I’m using the melodies and lyrics of others-a huge difference.

But it’s fun, and so rewarding.

Still, my tendency is to jump into a project with both feet and carry it to a level of resolution. To illustrate how far I took this singing, for instance. I’m sharing my, hang on… Ta Dah!… raw GarageBand version of a favorite song. I actually purchased a mechanical license to make 25 copies (minimum) of this song from the publishers, Harry Fox. For the understanding and experience of doing it, to acknowledge John Prine as the writer of  Angel From Montgomery, and so I don’t have to look over my shoulder. It’s from my album titled: Not Ready For The Big Time. They asked for an album title in the licensing process. It’s so not ready that right now there’s only one song on it.


The next post may be musings on distractions in the studio.

Evolution Of An Idea: from object to ArtiStamp.

January 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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Sorting through a kitchen cupboard, culling long unused, or worn-out pans and utensils, there’s an unfamiliar plastic object. See exhibit A.


Exhibit A

It’s very likely a piece of an appliance, the round part is about 2″ diameter, but WHAT IS IT? Oh, just throw it out!  Yet, what if it’s something important that something else can’t work without. It doesn’t fit on existing kitchen appliances. Now I’m intrigued. How did it get here, did the parent get tossed out long ago?

So I take many photos of it, and post it on my FaceBook page as the “alien object”. One of my helpful friends thinks it looks like a coffee filter part. Then another friend, Shari Downhill, is certain that it’s a wall bracket for holding an immersion mixer. Mmmmm, OK, makes sense! Although not working as hanging device with the mixer I have. See exhibit B.


Exhibit B

It’s definitely “an extra”, but now a compelling extra, having spent surplus energy on it, so now the creative brainstorming kicks in. A resolution is needed before I let it go.

There are sculptural possibilities; the object fitted into a glued construction, white or painted? What about an installation, an old kitchen drawer filled with other unknowns, leftover pieces and parts of appliances and tools long gone-a puzzle to figure, and a comment on our consumerism.

More immediate and accessible are the images, the photos, let’s do something with those.

PhotoShop is my go-to virtual tool. The photos are already on the computer; I cut, paste, reorder, manipulate, and filter. Absorbed with it, often I can’t recall the paths while immersed in the process.  The object takes on a bit of personality. See exhibit C.


Exhibit C

Then, more ideating follows. It’s a logical step take this image and create an ArtiStamp with it since it’s offbeat and the design would easily fit the format.

Briefly, artistamps are faux postage that mail artists create as an extension of their ideas and run the gamut of subject matter. The creation method also varies, from hand-drawn, painted, etched, photocopied, rubber stamped, to the easily created computer/personal printer version. We share, trade and use them on mail art. See exhibit D.


Exhibit D

Designed as a sheet of 24 stamps here’s a close-up.

Women’s Creativity and the Midsummer Moon Art Celebration

July 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Art Exhibitions, Art Studio, Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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photo by Sherry Gaskin

From the “make art”  table. One little girl’s version of a prayer flag, sending a positive message out on the breeze.

What have I been up to lately?

Several months back, my friend Elaine across the lake, had a terrific idea about assembling an event celebrating local women artists, and hosting it in her backyard at the time of the Summer Solstice.

Getting involved would distract me from immersion in studio work, but it sounded SO RIGHT, particularly at this point in time, when so much is doom and gloom, and people are holding back. This is exactly when we need to brainstorm, and realize that we possess many resources for creating new directions. Also, it would create a fine venue for art display, which is always welcome, so I committed to the idea.

We discussed the artists we knew. There’s an incredible wealth of female talent in this community in the Fine Arts. Besides, we could identify many cool ladies who would attend and enjoy such an event. As individual artists’ names came up, it was apparent that this could be expanded to include singing, dancing, and poetry, in addition to visual art, creating a balanced day of the arts. This also meant being selective about participants, keeping physical space and time in mind.

From experience, I know that a select group of women can produce a supportive, encouraging, co-operative, and inspiring atmosphere. That was the intent behind the Celebration, and that attitude carried through all the planning.


Color framed the day, heavy on burgundy and reds, as reflected by the postcard invite.


photo by Sherry Gaskin

Out  Of  The  Question kicked off the festivities.

Music was by the group Out Of The Question, with Pat Seamount, Katharine Edmonson, and Kris Wilber. What’s more, most attendees contributed their music during a later percussion fest.

photo by Ellen Schafhauser

Keeping the beat with gourd shakers. In the background, art displays line the entry.

Visual Artists participating were Eve Laeger-watercolor, Sherry Gaskin-photography, Elaine Shrader-painting, Ellen Schafhauser-photography, Katharine Edmonson-assemblage, Pat Seamount-painting, Marjorie Carroll-sculpture, and myself.

photo by Sherry Gaskin

Jill shares her short stories

Ann Beman with a poetry workshop, and Jill Sloan reading her short stories represented literature.

photo by Sherry Gaskin

Ann drums everyone in for the poetry workshop.

photo by Ellen Schafhauser

That’s me introducing drummin’ fun.

2-girls-drummingphoto by Ellen Schafhauser

Friends Hannah and Emma collaborate on a frame drum.


photo by Sherry Gaskin

Graceful Heather from Tribal Moon Rising

There were many attendees, a number of which had only planned to drop in for a bit but then got caught up in the flow and stayed all day. Day flowed into the evening with individual dance performances by Pamela, Marluna, Ankhet; and members of the troupe Tribal Moon Rising– Heather, Melynie, and Kristie. The grand finale was everyone on their feet dancing, celebrating our common abilities and potential.

The June 26th issue of the Kern River Courier, page 12, has a lovely article by columnist Donna Fitch, about the Celebration, titled Show fetes Midsummer Moon Art

2009 Community Mural

April 21, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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More than fifty people participated, ages three to eighty seven, to create this feathered 5′ x 36 ” image at the South Fork School Arts Festival. A great mix of individual style. We’ve got color!  This mural and the one from last year remain at the school.

2009 South Fork School Arts Festival

April 17, 2009 at 11:22 am | Posted in Art Exhibitions | Leave a comment
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You are looking at the group mural from the 2008 Arts Festival. We’ll be creating another one this Saturday April, 18th, 1:00 PM-7:00 P M. at South Fork School, 5225 Kelso Valley Rd. Weldon. The Arts Festival also has art exhibits and other workshops, plus great music, and food to fill your belly. The day is geared toward kids, but all ages are invited to participate. Come be creative!!  Hint, this year we will be flying instead of swimming!

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