Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A sincere, heart-felt "Thank you"!

I just want to say "Thank you" to all of you who have checked-out my blog posts over the past year. I started doing this 4 years ago as a real web log of my work and a record of some of my artistic endeavors. I am grateful that some of you have found what I have had to say interesting at some level. I hope that I have provided some useful tidbits along the way as well. So "Thank you"! I wish all of you a peaceful, joyous and productive new year in 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Time travel

I am spending some time this morning going through some vintage magazines. I have a small stack of the publication "Primary Education" from 1917-1918. I have stated this before, but it is worth stating again methinks. One of the many aspects of collage of which I am particularly fond is the sense of "time travel" that I experience when looking through these old publications. In addition to the main articles are the advertisements. Here are a few that I found interesting.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"85 Years After The Invasion" (4.5" x 6.5")

Here's the finished owl piece with the yellow "accent" elements...

Christmas art by Sammy

I had to give a "Shout out" to my nephew Sammy, who gave his grandmother (my mother) a beautiful "scratch drawing" of a wolf for Christmas. There's nothing like original artwork as a gift. Good job Sammy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Clown finale

Okay, perhaps I've put the clown up too much… BUT, I have the finished composition and I thought I would also show the intermediary steps. The last two steps were to decide on the positioning of the background space and "tipping" the paint brush with red paint. The distinctions are subtle, but important methinks. I decided to go with the more uniform and dark background rather than showing another red highlight (I thought that was distracting).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A couple of owl "sketches"

I certainly will post more in the next couple of days; but wanted to share these two "Sketches" from a very creative evening last night. I will post the finished clown tomorrow probably (it looks good with the brush tip painted red!).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

substrates and ideas

Oftentimes people ask me how I come up with the ideas for my collages. As any artist will attest, that's a complicated question. One of the sources of ideas for me as a collagist are the various sources of raw materials which I peruse (i.e., the texts and photographs and illustrations). I have shared this before with regard to my particular fondness for certain types of source materials (i.e., outer space and black-and-white photography books; see 6-29-2013 post). Here are a couple more I have chosen to start working on. The black-and-white image is from an old magazine (I think "Life") and was particularly of interest to me because it covered more than a single page. As an analog collagist, this allows me to create a bit of a larger piece. I also really like the horizontal orientation (similar to "Two Birds, with One Stoned"). The green and orange substrate also has a horizontal orientation, only because I was lucky enough to come across two of the same issues of Science magazine (i.e., with the same cover art). I will arrange the two covers so it may not be so easy to see that they are identical. Both of these substrates have been "sitting around" my workspace for over a week now. I continually will experiment with images that might "work". This (hopefully) will eventually lead to a composition that I can then elaborate upon and do the finish work on. Sometimes people think I have some kind of picture in my head of what I want a piece to look like; but honestly at this point, I really don't have any idea what the compositions will be. I know that I enjoy the contrast of color with black-and-white (but that's a standard artistic strategy). The third image shown here (the blue topographical image) I think will not be a substrate, but will be cut-out and placed as an "object" on a yet-to-be-determined composition.

Clowning around

My friend's wife, Heather (well, she is also a friend), is graduating from nursing school this week. I was contemplating doing a collage for her as a graduation gift. Although she hates clowns; she loves to watch scary movies. But perhaps she wouldn't like a clown collage. I may give her the option of first refusal. I can always use a piece like this in a show. I posted it on my FB page and got some pretty strong reactions to it (which I like). It's not quite done yet and I need to photograph in better light when it is finished. But I thought I would share here. The one with the deflated balloon is the composition I am "going with"; the other was just a sketch.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December sketches

After a full dy of grading and school meetings, I was able to come home last night and spend some "quality time" in my work area. Here are some "sketches" that I was working on. I'm really looking forward to some dedicated art time in December and January!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A source of inspiration

I recently met Tony Thompson, a young artist based in my hometown of Utica, NY. He did a collaborative project with another artist resident at Sculpture Space, Inc, and I saw their installation at a Works-in-Progress Reception. VERY cool stuff! Tony's work is pretty amazing. It's like a cross between Banksy and Tim Burton. He's an extremely prolific artist and is involved with lots of community arts projects in the greater Utica area. He's also one of the nicest guys I have ever met. No brooding, moody artist -- Tony is a guy that you just feel good being around. Tony also has Cavernous Angioma, a blood vessel problem which happens to have afflicted Tony in the pons area of his brain stem (an extremely important brain area for some basic physiological functions). Most of the time, Tony  experiences no symptoms as a result of this condition. But sometimes the blood vessels release blood into his brain tissue. This consequently can lead to temporary paralysis, vision, balance and speech problems. Tony recently had his third bout of bleeding and had to spend some more time in hospital treatment. Despite Tony's condition, he continually produces art and is an inspiration to many of us. He has MANY friends and supporters in the area and we will be having a fund-raiser to help Tony pay for his medical bills. Dan Walter, who works at The Dev (see earlier posts of my recent exhibit there) is an amazing arts supporter in Utica, is the lead organizer (THANKS Dan!). Here is a piece of Tony's work that I bought in the summer (with text that states "It wasn't suppose to happen again") along with a piece I just completed to donate to the fund-raiser.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thoughtsgiving follow-up

Here are the commemorative collage lapel pins I made for our festive gathering at The Green Onion for the 4th Annual Thoughtsgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HAPPY THOUGHTSGIVING!!!! … now in its 4th year!!!

Four years ago, a couple of my friends and I initiated a new holiday while enjoying a few pints at The Green Onion (a local pub in Utica, NY). It's celebrated on the eve of Thanksgiving and is kind of a contemplative pause before the hectic holiday. In a way, it's an anti-"Black Friday", anti-commercialization of the holidays thing too. So I am wishing all of you out there in the "bloggosphere" a sincerely happy Thoughtsgiving today! I am thankful for your interests in my artwork!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where do elements "end up"?

In a way, this is a bit of a follow-up to the last post in terms of how interesting I think it is to see from where elements come and into what compositions they eventually become incorporated. Here are a couple more examples. The first is an older piece (almost 5 years now) that included a beautiful transfer of a detailed angel. If you look at my studio table, you will see some of the elements as they lay waiting to be incorporated into a composition. The other is a newer piece (one that is now on exhibit at the Kirkland Art Center). I had played with where the "ripped guy" might fit in a number of experimental compositions, until he finally found his was on the vintage map background with a colorful hand used as some contrast.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The story of "Two Birds…"

The artists' reception for the "Small Works 5" exhibition at Kirkland Art Center in Clinton was really nice. It was nice to meet the other artists and the event was well-attended. Someone bought my piece entitled "Two Birds, with One Stoned". For those of you who follow this blog periodically, you might remember this piece. There are SO many little stories that this piece "tells", it was bittersweet for me to let this one go. It has had an interesting history.
I did this piece on April 20, 2013. The numbers "4-20" have some pot reference for some of the "hippie types" out there (and thus the allusion in the title). I had been experiencing a "dry spell" with my work and thought that perhaps I had done all that I had to offer in terms of "good" collages. I had had the guy's head as an element for weeks (months?) and had experimented placing it in various compositions (see below, for example). I really liked the gray value and I really appreciated the facial expression and head turn. I was afraid that he was a "famous star" though. I really try to avoid famous faces in my work. I sent off an image to my cousin Dan Sanders, who is a vintage movie expert. He assured me that he didn't know. I felt "safe" using the image.
This past summer, I submitted this piece to the annual regional show at "View" in Old Forge. I was reminded sternly when I wrote out the check that it is "View", NOT "The View". It's ironic, for folks who need to be so precise with the check, that they mis-labelled my piece as "Two Birds with One Stone". I printed the title carefully THREE times on the submission forms for the show. I mentioned this to a friend who is somewhat "in the know" about the organization. She seems to think that it was an intentional change to avoid the mildly "provocative" title. My friend Dan Buckingham was a juror at the show and I thought he would like the piece. As it turns out, it won "First Place - Mixed Media" in the exhibit. Of course, I was hoping that Dan didn't "bestow" this award on me because of our friendship (I really didn't think that he would do that, but…). I was able to ask him directly a month or so ago and he assured me that he didn't even know it was mine. That's cool. I had to have my brother Bill pick-up the piece when the show was over (I was out of town). He was tickled when people reacted so positively about his brother's work when the retrieved it.
This piece was also part of my show in September at The Dev in Utica, NY. It was placed well in the exhibit and folks really seemed to like it. It's interesting to me (and I feel very lucky as well) that when I do a piece that I think is going to be a "hit", it is generally well-received by "the public". I remember vividly the night of April 20th when I completed the piece. I was SO happy about it! I felt that I finally was out of my collage "dry spell", and I just knew this was going to be a well-liked work. I actually spent more money than I usually do to mat and frame the work, because I wanted to "treat it well". I had overpriced the piece a bit at The Dev, because I was "saving it" for the Kirkland Arts Center exhibit. Even with the price up, it almost sold.
When I received the postcard announcing the KAC exhibit, I noticed that the title of the piece had been changed (again) to "Two Birds with One Stone". Argh… I don't do cliche! I consider my titles (at least for most of my works) to be integral to the artwork itself. Fortunately, I was able to notify the folks at KAC and they did change title card for the piece in the exhibit. Several people expressed their interest in buying the piece… and then the "dot" went up. It had sold.
Such stories for such a modest piece! I love it. And now it's sold. I still feel bittersweet about it. But once again, my journey in the world of art has provided me with an enriched life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kirkland Art Center exhibit (Clinton, NY)

I'm very excited to be part of this 5-person show with artist friends JD King and Dan Bacich (as well as the other two artists). I look forward to the opening reception on Sunday!

Monday, November 11, 2013

another round of The Memory Project

Last year, the Art Club of Utica College was involved with The Memory Project (www.memoryproject.org) for which portraits are made (i.e., painted or drawn based upon photographs) of children from around the world and distributed back to them (see post from February 26, 2013). Last year the children were from Sierra Leone (Africa). This year the students are involved again. This time, we are doing portraits of children from the Phillipines (based on photos sent to us). I'm not sure if we will know if any of these children lost their lives as a result of Typhoon Haiyan. It certainly has made this project much more emotional for me and I hope that our artwork will be a very small bright spot in what might be a very bleak couple of years for the children in this area. Here is a photo of the child for which I will do a portraiture collage (we are required to obscure the eyes to avoid identification). I hope he is safe. Brings a tear to my eye and makes me feel fortunate to be safe tonight. Proud of the Art Club of UC.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I really didn't think I would have any time to spend on artwork this evening; but I ended-up going into my workspace and getting a little bit done. A couple of collage "sketches" re-working some favorite elements I've been interested in lately.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 juried exhibition of the National Collage Society

Most of you who check out this blog might already be aware of this, but here is the link to this year's exhibit. Some REALLY nice work!   http://nationalcollage.com/2013.html

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"African-American Saint"

I am hoping to submit this piece as a "last minute entry" into the bau Gallery exhibit along with "Lila Libi" and "Sibyl's Sadness". The theme of the exhibit is "Saints and Sinners".

Monday, October 28, 2013

third piece (my "other voice")

So here's a piece I kind of threw together this evening (my third for the weekend). It's a little bit of a departure from my typical collage voice; although I believe that this represents my second collage voice. If you look back at my work, you will see pieces somewhat similar -- perhaps
aesthetically less pleasing, and a little disturbing in a way. This piece takes advantage of a double image ad for a tooth paste marketed to prevent tooth decay.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Lila Libi" (5.5" x 7.5")

Here's the finished product (framed and unframed). I will be submitting this one and "Sibyl's Sadness" (a bit of a name change) to Bau Gallery in Beacon, NY for the "Saints and Sinners" exhibition. Hopefully they will both be accepted. Stay tuned...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Warming up

I have a couple of projects that I am working on this weekend and decided to start "warming up" last night while cleaning up my work area a little bit. I am excited to submit a couple of pieces next week for an open call for a juried show at Bau Gallery in Beacon, NY with the theme "Saints and Sinners". I was playing around with these elements last night and ended-up liking to "sketch". Here's the interesting part that I wanted to emphasize in this post. I like the ripped paper element that I have included. It's a nice contrast to the rest of the piece methinks (and I love the patina). What I will do tonight, is look for an appropriate and "cool" excerpt (i.e., "slice") from the dictionary I am using. The challenge is that I would like to find something that was in the middle column of the page so that I can do a "clean" rip without the need to piece together something. I came across "sisterhood", but it was on the left-hand side of the page ("Styx" was as well). So this should be fun!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

blurb book

Some of you have expressed interest in purchasing my collage book. The book is not cheap (mostly the cost from the publisher), but I can assure you that it is high quality. If you are interested, you can purchase the book on-line through "www.blurb.com" (search my name). I am grateful for your interest! www.blurb.com

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Sibyl's Sadness" (6.5" x 8.5")

Here's the piece I finished this afternoon. This is a tentative title for the piece. I have included an unframed and a framed version (although I will probably go with a black frame for this piece). I have also included an image which shows the level of precision I try to use with my compositions. It took me over an hour to find exactly what background star scene would work best for this piece. Then I used a very "deliberate" cut-out portion to use as a background in the "porthole" of this composition. THEN, I wanted to make certain that the "starlight" rays coming off the star were in the same orientation as the one in the lower right portion of the composition. It's a detail like this that make a piece "look good" without the viewer necessarily being aware of the detail.

reflecting on the beginning

The last few months have been good ones for me in terms of my collage efforts. I just received my "Blurb" book a couple weeks ago; at the same time I had another successful show here in Utica (at The Dev). I also just had another piece accepted into the annual juried show of the NCS. In the summer I was honored to have had one of my collages accepted to appear on the cover of a prestigious neuroscience journal. Yeah, life is good! It's amazing to me though, how it all "comes about" though. In 2008, I had already spent a year "playing" with assemblage and some minor collaging; but I was far from accomplished. I was still spending lots of my time with my academic research and mentoring students as research assistants. Every spring my goal was to take students to The University of Scranton Undergraduate Research Conference for them to present the work they were doing under my tutelage. In 2009, I was encouraging a student to write an abstract and submit it to Scranton. She was dragging her feet. "The abstract has to be done BY FRIDAY" I remember saying. When she didn't get it to me, I asked the folks at Scranton (who I had known for years) if they would still accept a late abstract. They agreed; but my student didn't hand in the abstract again later. I was NOT HAPPY at all, and reluctantly, pulled the plug on taking her to Scranton. I was disappointed, to say the least. It was then that I revisited a webpage I had come across announcing a collage workshop with Jonathan Talbot. I had no idea who "this guy" was (thank god; because if I had, I might have been too intimidated to participate). I called Jonathan and he informed me that there was only one seat left for the workshop. I told him that I was interested. The workshop was wonderful! Learning Jonathan's technique allowed me to focus on the creative aspects of my collaging instead of being bogged down by the mechanics so much. It changed my life... literally. Soon thereafter, I created a collage for a juried regional exhibition at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts and won the "Solo Exhibition" award. SInce then, I "haven't looked back". And to think that it all started because of a "delinquent" student (at the time I would have very much preferred to go to the Scranton conference). It's interesting (and a bit scary) how that single event (or non-event) changed my life so much. Of course, I was "primed" for all of it to "come together"; but nonetheless, I am thankful that chance and preparation came together in the way they did on that April weekend in 2009. I am thankful to the Dada artists whose works were inspiring me daily at that time; Joseph Cornell for the beautifully inspiring works that he created in his lifetime; Ray Johnson, genius collagist; Jonathan Talbot - artist, musician, teacher, mentor and friend; and the folks at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (as well as MANY others now for their support in my artistic efforts)!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

more considerations

In a recent post I presented three background options for a collage featuring Philippe Petit's 1974 highwire event between the World Trade Towers. Before I finished the piece, I wanted to see what effect changing the direction of gaze might have on the "feel" of the piece. I also wanted to make certain that I "knew" who the woman was who I would use in the piece. Here are some intermediate "sketches" and the final piece. BTW, The piece is entitled "Petit Thrall". The woman's name is Mary Thrall, originally from Ann Arbor. Are you "out there" Mary Thrall?