Saturday, February 28, 2009

Domine Deus

Domine Deus
This was one of those pieces that almost assembled itself. The three main elements were purchased at an Art Fest Vendor Nite a couple of years ago. That night when I was back at the hotel looking over my purchases, the tin heart, the sprinkler part and the porcelain doll's head ended up laying next to each other. An a-ha moment! It took me over a year before I conceived the rest of the piece, adding the rosary, dried rose bud and illuminated manuscripts. I enjoy doing these "mini" assemblages in these little boxes( this one is 6"x6"), where each small component takes on a major significance. The name Domine Deus (Lord, God) is taken from the first words of each manuscript excerpt. Every time I look at it, I love the juxtaposition of the smooth porcelain of the doll against the vintage metal of the sprinkler.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Father of Us All

Tilly Losch

Joseph Cornell - the master of assemblage. What can one say? When his exhibition was featured at the San Francisco MOMA in late 2007 I spent hours filling my eyes with his collages, his assemblages and all his collections.

It was fascinating to see all the intricate pieces, as in the drawers above; tiny wrapped bundles of paper. The hardware cloth along the edge was a favorite material of Cornell's, and he often used the cutout bird shapes.

Medici Slot Machine(left) and Medici Boy(right) are interesting studies of Renaissance paintings surrounded by small copies of the central figure. Game pieces, maps and line diagrams fill the boxes as well. Cornell did several pieces in this series.

My daughter gave me the exhibition book for Christmas and I love leafing through it and soaking up inspiration. My own small tribute to this man who gave us so much is called A Cornell Retrospective and includes many of the signature elements he used: a clay pipe, a liqueur glass, a Renaissance painting, a star chart and hardware cloth. It was, I thought, a fitting way for an artist to pay homage to the father of us all, Joseph Cornell.

A Cornell Retrospective

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pyrate's Lunchbox

The Pyrate's Lunchbox
This was a very fun piece that I did for my colleague Destiny Carter's birthday last year. She's a big pirate fan. I started with an old jewelry box with a leatherette map on the top. I added, in the bottom drawer, a dagger and hip flask (for the rum of course!). I made a hard tack biscuit out of paper clay. Then embellished it with mold - fashioned from polymer clay - and plastic weevils. Old cheese rinds and a faux lime rounded out the luncheon portion.

The top of the box held a rag filled with pieces of eight, a compass and telescope, and this book. Made from a vintage photo album, the front is embellished with skull medallions and encaustic wax. It opens to reveal several piratical pages using vintage images, a fold-out map and more encaustic wax.

The final spread features this grisly guy in all his buccaneer glory!

All photos courtesy of Destiny Carter

It was a kick to work on and a delight to see how pleased Destiny was on receiving it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Theatre of Dreams

Last December Margot and I got the chance to visit Wendy Addison's Theatre of Dreams shop and studio in Port Costa. It's a tiny (Pop. 300) little town set right on the Sacramento River just before it runs into the upper reaches of San Francisco Bay. We spent the night in El Cerrito, about 12 miles away and drove over to Port Costa in the chill of an early winter's morning. We parked by the river and walked down the main street, snapping pictures of the glorious old buildings.

When we tried to enter The Theatre of Dreams, it wasn't open, but while we were looking in the windows, Wendy came and threw open the door with a big welcoming smile and a friendly "Good morning." It was pure magic, all of her wonderful creations to delight the eye. Everything in the shop was vintage, not just her pieces, but all the display units, racks, even the pins used to attach things to an old dress form.

We "Ooo-ed" and "Ah-ed" for over an hour, choosing a few precious things to take home. Wendy graciously brought out the handmade book she's creating and let us look through and feast our eyes. It's a limited run of 350 and an exquisite piece of artwork. When I ask if I could take pictures in the shop, Wendy said "Of course!" We finally tore ourselves away, knowing this was an experience that will long be remembered.
Wendy Addison in her Theatre of Dreams
The Theatre of Dreams is open several times a year for weekend open houses. If you're in the coastal California area it's well worth a trip. Check Wendy's blog or call (510) 787-2164 for dates.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Poor Eunice!

Eunice Goes to Town
...but not on the pages of Somerset magazine. The March/April issue arrived in the mailbox yesterday and I eagerly turned to the reader submission section to see if Eunice had made the cut, but alas, no. The theme was paper dolls, and though Eunice is made of paper -albeit a salt box, adding machine rolls and a vintage milk bottle top - I guess she just didn't fit the image of what they were looking for. But really, who could turn down that goofy grin and red hair?

I set myself a goal last summer to submit for every Somerset challenge for a year, this was the second piece that didn't make it. But I'll keep perservering and who knows. The upside is I'm giving myself deadlines and getting the art out there and in some cases working outside my comfort zone, so whether any of my pieces grace their pages or not, it can only be a good thing for my growth as an artist. But I gotta tell you, I do feel Eunice's disappointment.

PS. Big thanks to Lisa and Chris who alerted me to weird problems with my comment section. It's all fixed now, so comment away with impunity!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Red Rosin, Red Rosin

Anyone who's taken a class with Lynne Perrella know about red rosin paper. It comes on a huge roll of a gazillion feet and costs around $8.00 or $9.00 at your local Home Depot or Lowe's. It's used by house painters to cover flooring to catch the inevitable drips and spills. But... gesso it, add layer after layer after layer of paint, texture, and collage - and then add some more - and WOW! The results are truly magnificent. This humble paper takes on a fabric or leather-like feel and becomes a work of art.

These are the two red rosin pieces I did with Lynne at the Taos workshop. In the top one,
Path to Hades, I covered the entire paper with cheesecloth, sandwiched between two layers of gesso, allowing the cloth to extend beyond the edges of the paper. The bottom piece, "Doorway to Paradise" makes extensive use of diamond shapes and cord embedded in the gesso undercoat.

Lynne Perrella

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rainy Sunday, Green Hills

In the last few weeks we've been blessed by several rain storms here on the Central Coast of California. We always need the water, but one of the wonderful things about the first few big rains this time of year is how suddenly everything turns green. When I left for Taos on Feb. 7th there was just the slightest blush of pale celadon on the hills, and when I got back a week later, things were a bright moss green. And today carpets of emerald cover the surrounding hillsides.
If we keep having rain once a week or so for the next month and a half, things will stay gorgeously green through May. And then, rich tans and pale golds will recapture the landscape til the rains come again in late autumn or early winter.
So while it rains toady, I'll be snug inside, by the fire, reading "Owls Head", another by Rosamond Purcell - a story about the ultimate in collecting "stuff". Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black Paper, White Snow

Lynne Perrella always starts her workshops with a "black paper" exercise. She has her students study a copy of an engraving by Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I (1514). Lynne tells the students to pick one element from the engraving and cut it out of the black paper. Using a blank wall (or in this case, a window with a lovely snow scape outside) the students tape their contributions up , working together to create a cohesive whole. And then Lynne has the students bring up all (and I do mean all) the left over bits of black paper and tape them up as well. The result, as you can see here, is stunning. I've done this many times now in Lynne's workshops and I've never failed to be amazed at the beautiful pictures and designs this exercise creates. (To see the black paper exercise on a white wall scroll down to Feb. 7th entry - Lynne at ArtFest 2007).

Friday, February 20, 2009

What a crew!

There we are - the lucky 13! Lucky to be in Taos, lucky to be studying with Lynne and Anne, lucky to have 5 whole days to do nothing but art. From left - Lyn, Leslie, Jinna, Shelly, Anne, Linda, Sheri, me, Lynne, Alice, Salley, Jill and Holly. Thanks to Mike Waterman for the great picture. We posed in front of the row of dove-cotes at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Fascinating to look at. I took a myriad of pictures to use in later artwork. Even though it was chilly winter there were lots of birds in evidence - little wren-types filling the bushes as I'd walk by and very impressive huge black and white magpies strutting around as though they owned the property.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Somnolent Prince

One of the things Anne Bagby had us do in the workshop was to spend some time each evening drawing. Practice makes perfect - or at least a lot better - so if you draw everyday, it will become easier. She had us doing faces to use in our Santos projects. I've dabbled in watercolour and sketching, but usually landscapes and street scenes. I very rarely have attempted figures or faces, so this was a real challenge. I did about a dozen and was pleasantly surprised that a few of them were OK!

But what's with noses?! All of my faces look like they had had a horrible mid-face accident. And yet, if practice makes perfect - I should have some better noses as time goes by.

I used my best face for this little piece that I call "The Somnolent Prince". He's backed by canvas with cheesecloth laid over it and painted. The figure is made from collaged paper and his wooden hands and feet are covered with the same. His buttons are made from doilies with buttons in the center. A chipboard crown, painted gold, is embellished with a lacquered and embossed washer, and his scepter consists of two decorative wooden squares, again painted gold, attached to a coffee stirrer and tied with lengths of French ombre' ribbon.

More Taos snow!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Show and Tell

Nuestra señora del Oxido

Our classes with Anne Bagby resulted in Santos - depictions of saints, sacred clowns, etc. - representational or abstract. I was able to complete two and am pleased with both of them. The above, uses a rusted piece of metal for the female saint's crown or corona - hence her title, which translates to "Our Lady of Rust". The body is canvas, the face polymer clay, wooden crosses and canvas boards are painted and covered with bits of collaged paper.

Anne Bagby

The second piece "Mano de Dios"-"Hand of God" started with an old painted board that I found in the woodpile on the porch by my room. Delightfully worn and peeling, it became the perfect backdrop for a plastic backscrather, painted red and rubbed with gold,and then adorned with the face of a peasant saint outlined in gold acrylic. This was placed atop a length of frayed burlap. The small wooden dowels at the top of the piece reach to heaven. Two found hardware objects, one in the hand and one at the bottom of the board complete this Santos.

Mano de Dios

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Winter Wonderland!

What a treat to have several days of beautiful powdery snowfall during the Taos Workshop. Growing up in Azusa (about 20 miles east of Los Angeles) snow was something we "visited" by going up to Mt. Baldy on a Saturday afternoon in the winter. And now, living on the Central Coast, it's an every 40 year occurance - maybe. So getting to be there and see it actually coming down, and then getting to go out and walk in it, and make a tiny snowman and throw snowballs - WOW!! As if the art wasn't enough (and I'll be talking about this in the next several posts, there was this magic winter wonderland.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What a workshop!

Anne Bagby, Me!, Lynne Perrella
Back from Taos - what an amazing week! 5 full days of Lynne Perrella, Anne Bagby, the beauty and magic of Taos, new friends and art, art, art!! Lots of pix to share, lots of new artwork to show- will be posting over the next couple of weeks and unfolding the whole story. I'm unpacked and slowly coming back to reality. Hoping for a long night's sleep tonight and up early in the morning to shower my oldest daughter with good trip wishes as she leaves to start a new life in Springfield, Missouri.

Window from D H Lawrence bathroom
Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Off to Taos!

For the next week I'll be in Taos, New Mexico attending "Southwest Passage" - a mixed media workshop with Lynne Perrella and Anne Bagby. Excited? Boy-howdy! Have been packing all week, trying to fit in all the art supplies and still find room for clothes too. The weather looks pretty cold back there - especially to this native costal Californian. I'm not taking my computer with me, but will post again when I get back - with lots of pictures and wonderful new artwork.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Seeing red

"RED" spread from 13 Journals Project 2005

I'm supposed to wear red for a Valentine's dinner at the upcoming Taos workshop - but, I'm a redhead, red is just about the only color I dont' wear. I have nothing red in my closet or my bureau - redheads don't do red! I do have red earrings, maybe a red scarf... will be packing soon, so hopefully the solution will arrive quickly!

"The light, the camera and things holding."

Have just discovered the amazing Rosamond Purcell, artist, photographer and author. She photographs things as they crumble and wear away. In "Bookworm", in a marriage of collage and assemblage, she takes books that have been destroyed - some gently, some not so gently -
and combines them with nature's detritus; bird skeletons, insect parts, leaves and seedpods, and creates fascinating works of art. Studying each piece is to enter a different world and become lost in its trails to oblivion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not your ordinary bathroom!

During the last week Corey Amaro over at Tongue and Cheek has been telling of her adventures painting her bathroom in various shades of grey. The results are very beautiful and very French. Now for something completely different! This is my Mexicolor bathroom, with skulls, shrines, calaveras and lots of green and fuchsia. This is how I wake up every morning - explains a lot doesn't it? LOL

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Perry Girls Ride the Range

This is my latest submission to Somerset Studio - the challenge was "Sisterhood". I immediately thought back to all those holidays when I was a kid and my big sis and I would get new cowboy regalia. Usually cap pistols and hats, but one magic year - outfits as well! I found the old photo and a wooden cigar box, and after that the piece built itself!

Monday, February 2, 2009

First post from the coast!

Well, I'm finally doing it. And I actually figured out most of it myself. Thanks and kudos to Destiny Carter for the very cool banner and to my wonderful wife Margot for computer support and hand-holding. This is my birthday month and I had made a promise to myself to take the blogging plunge in February, if not before, so here goes!

It's a lovely 76 degrees here in Morro Bay today, the ocean is five or six shades of blue, the sun warm, the sea breeze cool. Doing an amazing amount of errands and packing, getting ready for a trip to Taos this Saturday. My Christmas/birthday/anniversary present is the Lynne Perrella/Anne Bagby joint workshop at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house next week. Woo-hoo! Very excited, nervous, as always before a workshop, but hearing Lisa's wise words in my heart; "retain your authentic self BEFORE walking into class."

Mabel Dodge Luhan House - Taos New Mexico

Welcome to my little piece of the coast here at Altered by the Sea.