Not only have I been able to spend some quality time in my studio lately; but I have also been feeling a little less "stressed", given the fact that I am comfortable with the pieces I now have ready for my solo exhibit next month. The stress of feeling like I had to do more new pieces for that show was detrimental to my creativity. Most of the pieces for the exhibit are from the last two or three years;but many of them I have shown before in the area (of course, different venues and some different audiences). I have five "never-before-seen" pieces for the show (of a total of 30) with which I am pretty pleased. So last night I went down into the studio with "low expectations" -- mostly some time to clean up and organize (maybe do some cutting). I ended-up doing these two "sketches", which I actually think might be "finals". I really like them. They're aesthetically pleasing to me; and I know they are a bit weird too -- right up my alley (as they say)!
I'm pretty pleased with how the finished product ended-up. Using this background element was totally serendipitous. I hadn't even had it in my stack (which has grown tall over the years). I just happened upon it in a magazine that was just laying around, as I was organizing and working on some other stuff. I loved the colors and decided to "pull the trigger" on the head element (which I have been "saving" for months). The dimensions are 6" x 14" (unframed).
Spending some quality time in my studio on this Christmas day... and loving it! I decided to try my first reverse transfer. In case folks don't know to what I am referring or how to do it, I thought I'd let the teacher come out in me again. Here are some photos of the process. The glass plate was coated with acrylic medium. Then one-side of the paper was coated (the side from which I wanted to "lift" the lettering). After drying, the coated side of the paper was placed on the coated glass and heated with an iron. Then cold water and a cloth is used to "pulpize" the back-side of the paper and rub off the paper (leaving the ink "in" the acrylic medium). The rest should be pretty clear from the photos. This is a technique described by Jonathan Talbot in his book about transferring images. Hope it works well for you if you try it!
Just a heads-up here... I'm excited to have just finished writing my second article for Kolaj magazine. This one is about some of the legal issues pertinent to appropriation art; including a discussion of copyright and "fair use" exceptions. Not sure of the publication date (but it will be early 2016). If you're interested in collage, this is a great publication to subscribe to! http://kolajmagazine.com/content/
This post is not really collage-related (except that it represents, in a way, how collage-like my life is). Utica, New York (in upstate, central New York State) has seen its share of economic woes over the past several decades. But in the last 10 years we seem to be seeing a renaissance of sorts happening with some nice new restaurants opening and some expansion of business (including the college I work) into the downtown area. A bar/bistro called "The Dev" has made an impact downtown too. I have posted photos of various art shows they host as well. Last night I had the good fortune to do the lighting for a hair/fashion show in an abandoned "vintage" department store as part of the reclamation of the downtown area. Artist and promoter Steve Nyland and hair stylists MeriEsther Luce and Allison Engelhart were the forces behind the event. It was a great night of an atypical event here in Utica. And it was very well attended as well!
Well, I'm not exactly sure how to describe this process; but I've been thinking about combining a couple of elements I can across recently (in a pile I have accumulated for A WHILE) several times this week. I recognized that the color, patina an spatial configuration were "congruent". So it didn't take long tonight to put together a sketch I had had in my mind. Inspired, no doubt, by the work of John Stezaker. I should show you the original elements by themselves... but I didn't photograph those tonight. So here is just the combined image... monochromatic gray. I rather like it!
Last year I read a post on someone's blog that they didn't like viewing blogs that were just photos of artwork. I tend to like that myself. This particular blogger was looking for more "meaty" entries from bloggers. I think this entry might "qualify" for what he was talking about...
Lately, I feel as though I am going through another "phase" in my creative journey. I don't think it's necessarily a negative phase, but it has been a bit bothersome as of late. At this point, I am just trying to "go with the flow" a little bit and deal with what I'm experiencing (hoping to learn from it). Let me explain. Over the past several years I have had MANY successes as a collage artist (more than I could have ever dreamt of 10 years ago)! It really has been great! As I have grown as a collagist, so has my workspace. I used to work in the space of half of one of our guest bedrooms. I moved up into our attic space for a short while; and now have quite a sprawling area in the basement (space heater in the winter; de-humidifier in the summer). Over the past several years I have also collected (accumulated) hundreds of magazine and scores of books from which I cull the elements for my collages. One of my favorite things to do when I have limited time or when I am not feeling particularly creative, is to peruse my vintage magazines and books and tear out the pages with the most compelling images for collage. This has lead me to have a stack of hundreds of pages of awesome elements from which to choose for collage creation. So this all sounds "good", right? What's the "phase", Monkeybrain? I think a combination of recent continued success and the presence and awareness of so much interesting raw materials has resulted in a feeling of being a bit overwhelmed or intimidated. I like to be the "driven" individual I am, both in my profession as a college professor and as a collagist; but sometimes I think I "put too much pressure" on myself. When I descend into my studio area, lately I have been feeling like I "have to" create something "really good". Or I get the feeling like I should be using the many great elements that I have RIGHT NOW! It seems like I have lost the Zen of my collage experience. This makes it difficult to enter what Csikszentimihalyi refers to as "flow". I write this post not to "whine" or to seek sympathy; but rather to share my experiences. I am assuming that some of my readers have experienced (or may be experiencing) this phase at some point in their creative journey. Perhaps it will be a good feeling to know that you are "not alone". I am referring to my feelings as a "phase", because I am also assuming that "this too shall pass". I am trying to learn from this experience and potentially grow from it. I believe I had a similar phase some years ago when I was playing more music. Occasionally I would feel "pressure" when I got together with my musician friend Goody to play guitar (after not having played for a while). We would put TOO much pressure on ourselves to "play something cool". This pressure inhibited "flow" and resulted in less-than-satisfying jam sessions sometimes. Once we worked through it and found a space where we could relax and enjoy the moment, the music "flowed" again. I trust that this will be my experience with collage as well. I suspect that this kind of phase is common in many domains. I have often heard professional golfers say that their game "came around" again after they started enjoying it. All that being said, I did spent some intense time in my studio last night cleaning and re-organizing some stuff AND experimenting with some sketches. I wouldn't want to post this entry without any images... so here are some of last night's sketches. Thanks for your indulgence in hearing about my latest "phase" ;-)
I'm very excited to have an article in the latest issue of Kolaj magazine. The article is about "minimalist" collages and features artwork by two of my favorite collagists -- John Hundt and John Stezaker. I am working on another article about legal issues related to collage (and other appropriative art forms).