Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The time for creativity

I don't have much time this morning to comment (gotta get back to grading papers), but it never ceases to amaze me that some pieces come together only through a slow arduous process whereas others are created in a very short time. I worked on one of these pieces for days with lots of trial and error; the other came together from start to finish (with already-prepped materials) within an hour. I'll let you guess which one is which. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Response to Howard Caverns

I felt that this was interesting enough to make into a separate post for those of us interested in collage. My friend Howard Caverns as me "Why collage? What motivates me to continue with collage?" (please see his comment on one of my previous posts). Here is my quick response to Howard:

As you know, I used to be a watercolor painter with some talent (in perhaps my less-than humble opinion). I enjoyed the end-product and was disciplined with the technique. But I never felt all that creative in the process. And I was less able to explore with painting, both in terms of visual aesthetic and intellectual aspects. I find that I am learning much more through collage than I could through other media too. I mean, for example, I had always seen on country lanes the signs for "Registered Holsteins". I never thought that not only were they registered, EACH had an "official" name and number (and pedigree) too. Finding that book yesterday in Earlville was a real treat! And it stimulates me in a weird way to think about the fact that the people who owned those cows back in 1888! are dead of course, and the cows are LONG gone. But here I am sitting looking through that particular book and musing (after enjoying bidding on it at an auction). To some, that may have been considered a "dead" book. Have I resurrected it? BTW I have volume 8 which was one of the "fattest" ones and has several cow illustrations in it. There were MANY other volumes as well (which I suspect may one day (soon?) be carted away and burned or brought to the landfill. Collage is mentally and psychologically stimulating to me. "Musing" instead of "amusing". "Productive" instead of "consumptive". Ah, collage! Howard, you should join me. I'll teach you the technique and then you can journey too!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ephemera specimens Part III

old photo and cow names ;-)

Ephemera specimens (cont'd)

I also brought home a few issues of "Scena Illustrata", an Italian magazine with great graphic designs from the 1930s. A stack of about 100 of these magazines sold for $360. I got about 8 for $7.50. They are simply beautiful. I also got several copies of the magazine "The Cosmopolitan" from 1903 and some old photographs.

Ephemera (specimens captured this day)

Although I spent more money than I would have at the Farmersville auction (in PA), I was able to collect some fine specimens for my collage work today at the ephemera auction at Marquis auction house in Earlville, NY. There were not a lot of people at the auction, but there were a few individuals there who were obviously dealers and who really drove the prices up on some items. But that's okay, I came home with some cool stuff. I've posted here some pictures of some of the more interesting things I got. One of my favorite things for collage and simply for enjoyable reading are medical and health books from the turn of the 20th century. They can contain some pretty wacky stuff. One of the books is entitled "The Perfect Woman" written by Dr. Mary Melendy in 1901 in which she warns that "Self-abuse is practiced among growing girls to such an extent as to arouse serious alarm... it is putting to a vile, selfish use the organs which were given only for a high sacred purpose" (the self abuse to which she refers is masturbation, of course). And at another end of the spectrum is the Holstein Herd Book which documents the names and numbers of registered Holstein cattle. I'm intrigued by such obscure records and of course, I am a sucker for a good image for transfer in my pieces (see the cow above).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ephemera auction

I would really like to keep this as much of a secret as possible, but alas, I feel obligated to inform anyone of my fellow artists who might be interested...
This Saturday there will be a large auction of ephemera in Earlville, NY (beginning at 11:00). For more details, check out www.cnyauctions.com Perhaps I will see you there.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brianna's birthday

Okay... my daughter got her birthday package in the mail today... so I can finally post photos of this piece. I was interested in trying a piece with this half-inch "deep" panel board. I coated it with the neutral color paint before I coated it with acrylic medium. Then I started by adding hand-made paper (made by Sharon Anayiotos) in an abstract fashion. I thought the angel sculpture worked perfectly. Then I added the DNA sequences (especially relevant since it was a gift for my daughter). I then added a "gold-leaf" "S" as a shared last initial of both my daughter ("Spak") and me ("Specht"). And of course, the "presentation" in appropriate matting and framing put the finishing touch on the piece. I was VERY pleased to hear her delight with the piece. Artwork from the heart! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

feelin' German

This piece started out with the application of an OLD German beer bottle label. The German text seemed to compliment the label well. Then I added the photo of the young lady which was taken from a 1933 yearbook. I tried my hand at using paint to add reflection and shadow for added dimension. I may have to do a little bit of touch-up, but I like it the way it is too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SPACE... the ongoing artistic frontier!

For anyone interested in allusions to space and science and medicine in the early 20th Century as inspiration for artwork, there's a VERY interesting book coming out (May 25th) by Megan Prelinger entitled "Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962" by Blast Books. There's a preview of the book with some GREAT graphics at the New York Times website. Definitely worth checking out (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/09/science/space/20100309_SPACE.html?ref=space). Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Part of my training as a scientist was to learn the value of collaborative work in research and writing. It's not only encouraged, it's expected. Although it is easy to understand that an individual's artwork is certainly influenced by the integration and interpretation of many of the creative stimuli to which he/she is exposed by viewing the works of others; explicit collaboration is perhaps more uncommon in the creation of visual artworks (music might be an entirely different issue). Anyway, this piece is what I would consider to be a truly collaborative work by two artist -- me and my sister-in-law, Sharon Durr-Anayiotos. Sharon received her BFA in paper-making and does beautiful paper work as well as large scale abstract oil and acrylic paintings. Last Thanksgiving she participated in one of our "dinner and a collage" events. She loved it! She brought many pieces of her hand-made paper to use as collage elements. One of the pieces she brought was actually a rough collage of various pieces of paper that I then used as the "base" for the piece I present here. Her nickname is "Sharwinty" and so that is what I am calling the piece. As you may be able to tell from my work, I tend to have a "foreground emphasis" with some neglect of background. Sharon's beautiful paper work provided not only a background for me, but a short lesson to me in creation of a useful background. I thank Sharon for her collaboration on this work (actually, she will be seeing it for the first time on this blog as well ;-)