Monday, April 30, 2012

Going to Gauguin and finding Rauschenberg

They say life is what happens when you're making other plans. Perhaps this is also true when visiting an art museum to see a much anticipated special exhibit, and instead find yourself captivated by another, much smaller, lesser known exhibit. Last Friday, I was finally in the Seattle Art Museum, walking up the steps to the "Gauguin in Polynesia" exhibit, and there it was -- a small set of cardboard collages along the wall -- large, irregular shaped collages made of cardboard, like this:

Since I was intent on getting into the Gauguin exhibit on time, I didn't bother to read much information about these collages, though the date (1971) made an impression on me. After a bit of research, I'm almost certain they are part of the Robert Rauschenberg Cardboard series. I have to admit, I didn't know anything about Rauschenberg before this, but I've since learned that he used materials that he collected all around him in daily life to use in his art, often using discarded items, such as the old cardboard boxes used to make these collages. My first reaction when I saw them was almost to laugh and wonder why I am working so hard with my collages, using paint and other media, wondering how they can be framed, when all I'd really have to do is this. But of course, this has already been done, quite some time ago, by Rauschenberg. And, thanks to Rauschenberg, at least in part, it is acceptable for artists to use everyday "ephemera" in our artwork. And I have to admit, I really like these collages. They illustrate that even the most humble, everyday sort of object can have beauty. 

The Gauguin exhibit was wonderful, and perhaps I will think of something to write about that later. In the meantime, you can find me at the recycling bin, looking for my next collage inspiration. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Promise of Spring

"The immortality of flowers must enrich our own"
- Emily Dickinson

It''s been almost a year since I started experimenting seriously with mixed media techniques and blogging about my work. This is one of the first series I did, using a variety of image transfer, collage and painting techniques. I have been frantically working on another project this week for an upcoming event this weekend, so I decided to show this set today for Paint Party Friday. Today, I'm so excited to be going to the special Gauguin exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Difficult Subject and a Happy Ending

These past few weeks I've been busy doing a lot of small collages, using bits of painted papers (read more about this process here) and other elements. Here is one I'm calling "A Difficult Subject."

I used some charcoal in the background, then used clear gesso, followed by the collage elements, and finally, some watercolor. (really not so difficult, and definitely a whole lot of fun)

While we're on the subject of fun, this past year has been one of creative frenzy for me as I've rediscovered my love of creating and making art. One thing I've become very good at is starting a lot of paintings. Sometimes my work just flows and comes together easily into a finished piece, and others, well...let's just say I've got quite a few of those! I can't make myself throw them out, though. I put them away for awhile, hoping that I'll figure out how to finish them someday. Here is one of those paintings. I can't even remember how I started this one. I think I was probably using up paint that I'd put out and didn't want to waste. I know I worked on it at several different times. The other day, I took it out again and decided I kind of like it, just as it is. So, here is my newly finished painting of the week, "Sunscape". 

Which leads me to a question. How should I frame small pieces such as these? Some are standard size, and others are not. The small collage is actually on mat board. How do you all do it? Do you know of sources for economical (but nice) frames? Do you make your own? Thanks in advance for your advice! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Playing With Ink and Collage, Jane Davies Style

There are some wonderful collage and mixed media books available these days. One of my current favorites is Jane Davies Collage Journeys. She has a great website where she posts videos and free tutorials. Last weekend I watched her Playing With Ink series of tutorials and was inspired to get out my inks and paints and play around. The basic idea is to paint and draw on cheap paper that you then cut up and use in collage. So fun!!

This is definitely an enjoyable way to incorporate expressive line and shape into abstract compositions. Since I've returned to doing more art in this past year, I've been somewhat timid in my work at times.  As I was doing these paintings, I felt freer in my painting than I have in a long time, so this was a good exercise for me.