collage, Studio talk

Studio Sunday

I piddled around for a long time yesterday and finally decided that I could at least do some backgrounds that I would collage over. This proves to be a great way to get started.

These started with old book pages, a 1931 newspaper page from the Oroville, Colorado Mercury-Register and hawthorns.

This morning I added some very thin old book cloth to the second one. I learned the hard way why I was advised not to soak the glue off the cloth. When it dried I found that the faint design that I loved on the cover was gone.

The reason I scrubbed most of the glue off the back was so I could incorporate a suggestion from a member of our collage study group – a piece of sparkling silver wrapping paper beneath the black cloth that would show through.

This one might be done after I glue this down.

The other one still needs something…even though I like the subtlety of the colors I want to consider adding contrasting pieces. I’m going to put it aside for a little while.

I got my hair cut yesterday and boy, did that make me feel better. And having this new phone camera that takes decent photos – golden.

Here are some shots of my “new” studio room.

Now I have to see if I can force myself to go over to the UNCG gardens and clean up my plots before I get my massage and grocery shop this afternoon.


New inspirations

The leader of our collage study group, Barbara Livingston, introduced me to a couple of artists that speak strongly to me: Hannalore Baron, and Irwin Kremen.

I realize that I am not too fond of the white watercolor paper for the backgrounds and plan to trim these or start with a different color substrate in the future.

Yesterday, I first added a few small elements to this collage and now I think that it is complete. I extended the black lines with bits of dark blue and added a couple of small squares of the pinkish brown book cover. What is the name for that color? I was thinking puce, also “puke,” but that’s too gross.

Next, I kept layering this collage I began on Saturday until I was satisfied with it. I ended up pulling off a piece of book cloth meant to be the focal point but it was too overpowering. A nice textural surprise resulted when the glue pulled off bits of the paper backing.

I also used tea bags in a few spots and Valspar antiquing glaze to knock the whole thing back a bit.

Lesson learned – don’t become so attached to a certain part of the collage that you’re not willing to change what is not working. Here are the before and after photos.

Along with the one in the previous post the three are related because they all contain parts of the Quantitative Analysis book.

In other news, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a new phone. Well, refurbished, not new. The same model I have now, which I like. This time I am putting a sturdy case on it right away since I broke this phone a few weeks after I bought it. It’s been patched together with shipping tape and stickers for months.



I am not satisfied with the quality of the photos from my little Canon point and shoot. It took a few tries and some photo editing to get them this good. I am charging up the Canon Rebel now to see how it does, but the last time I used it long ago I think it needed a repair. If it can’t do the job, I’ll be getting a new phone.

But I am happy with these two collages. I might fiddle with the first one a bit today, add one or two small bits of blue and another piece of the ochre and pinkish brown somewhere.

All of these materials are from recycled books.

coffee pot posts, collage

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Ha! I already broke my daily habit of posting here. Ah well, it will happen.

Yesterday was a great day, though. I drove to Chapel Hill for the collage study group of Triangle Book Arts. This time we worked on our stuff and I ended up with two collages that I really like and another that is in progress.

Working quickly and intuitively in this way is good for me. I tend to overthink everything so it is refreshing. But I’m not sure that I enjoy the design-as-you-go process in tapestry so much. It is a slow art medium and when I get to the end of it I want to be pretty darn sure that it comes out the way I wanted. That’s the reason that the tapestry diary didn’t work out for me, and the caterpillar, even though I was working with a simple pattern in my head that I took from the memory of a photograph, was a bit of drudgery.

But with collage! I had two nice pieces at the end of an hour!

My plan is to turn out a whole lot of these and put most of them up for sale and in shows. That way I can earn a bit of cash for my art retreat addiction as well as establish a body of work fairly quickly so that I can hit the ground running when I retire as far as applying for residencies and grants. I will also eye these for the possibility of tapestry design.

I finished transferring the photos from Flickr for our 2009 Alaska trip posts. This might work now that I have this laptop. It is much easier on my hands to copy and paste.

There is a piece that I’d like to finish that I mostly completed in a Elizabeth St. Hilaire painted paper collage workshop several years ago. During the trip home it stuck to something else and pulled of some of the paper off the background. It shouldn’t take too long to finish it. I noticed the moon painting that I did in this post. I had forgotten about it and didn’t see it in the studio move. If I find it, that would be a nice project.

Sandy is obviously feeling a bit of artist block misery. I think that I have talked him into spending the afternoon in the studio with me to focus on either the board game he is designing or drawing. He plans to take an oil painting class soon. He needs to find something to do every day.

We bought some beef short ribs from Meadow Farms at the market last weekend and I’ve never cooked them before, so they are in the crock pot after we marinated them overnight.

I finally found the charger for my camera battery so I will take photos of yesterday’s collages and post them next. The Kindle camera really sucks and it is almost impossible to get good photos in selfie mode. (My phone’s lens is cracked.) Boy, will I be glad to get a new phone! I’ve spent all my money on future art retreats but at least I won’t be in debt after they are done.

It drives me crazy to have credit card debt. One thing I did this past month was cancel my Southwest Chase credit card. I was irritated that they forced me to use up my points for a seat on a one way trip because they didn’t have any of the cheaper ones available. ON SOUTHWEST. All the seats are the friggin’ same. The trip is in JUNE. But that wasn’t the main reason. I have considered canceling it for months after I found out that they are a major sponsor of ALEC. And Chase is a major lender to fossil fuel companies. Although few airlines or credit companies or banks are not awful in their politics and greed, those are two of the worst.

After the trip to Ireland, I probably won’t fly Southwest any more. It is only from RDU to Boston for one leg of the trip, mainly because they doubled the points on the flight I needed so I didn’t have enough points for round trip. The rest of the trip is with Aer Lingus and British Airways and American. It might be a bit tricky. I have never booked a trip in separate pieces with all different airlines before. But the whole round trip is costing me around $700 including baggage fees, as long as I keep it to one checked bag. I need to keep it to one checked bag because I will be traveling on public transport and by foot. I think I did pretty good!

Okay, time to play.

art, book arts, collage, North Carolina, Wonderfulness

Re(f)use Exhibition at Artspace

Even though this Triangle Book Arts group exhibition at Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina is much better seen in person, as any book art exhibition is, I took a few photos yesterday when Sandy and I visited. Book arts are so interactive – in many cases over half of what is there is inside a book! In the show, there were many forms of books, some folded books hanging from the ceiling, some hanging on the wall, others were sculptural, and others invited you to explore inside them. One even invited you to add to it!

All were constructed from materials “reused” that were at least 80% “refuse.”

There were many that I wanted to photograph but a camera just could not do them justice. Susan Leeb’s “Catalogue of Nostalgia” installation using an old library card catalog cabinet and cards could have easily soaked up an hour of my time exploring its drawers, but I gave up trying to photograph it.

Here are photos of my two books in the exhibition. “Flow” hung with a group collaboration and was difficult to photograph because it was very long and the lighting was odd. However, I loved the shadows cast on the wall by another hanging book, “Holy” by Lisa Gilbert, so maybe the lighting was perfect. First two photos are details of the front and back of “Flow.” Then the bottom, then a page in the middle.

Here’s “First the Seed,” opened to its first page. I really have to write in this book when it comes home. It’s like the book that refuses to be finished.

See the shapes on the wall cast by the holes in “Holy?” After this photo is a detail shot of “Holy.” I really love this idea of combining a piece with light and shadow.

I love the shadows cast by Barbara Livingston’s fascinating “Renovating the Library” also.

Kathy Steinsburger’s “East:West” really got to me, pictured along with other works along the back wall. Again, those shadows!

By the way, the other gallery exhibit with encaustic collages by Jane Wells Harrison is well worth the trip also. It made my husband and I both want to play with encaustic. I especially loved the map imagery encased under the wax.

The exhibition is on the first floor gallery on Artspace through March 3. You can see other photos by clicking on any of these photos to go to my Flickr page. There are too many to post here – I know I posted too many as it was.

art, book arts, collage, Upcycling


I finished the insides of the panels for the Flow book today. Tomorrow I will finish the back sides, which will be much simpler. I messed around with laying them on the floor and switching them around to make them “flow” better. I can already see what I will change in the process for the next book, but I’m going to finish this one and send it off.

When it hangs it needs to be ten feet long so I’ll have to do math tomorrow!

art, book arts, coffee pot posts, collage

Sunday morning coffee FILTER post

Random stream of consciousness writing is what I categorize as “coffee pot posts” since they usually happen on weekend mornings when I have time to drink a small pot of coffee. At first it was an exercise to simply write until the coffee ran out. Today it is a pot AND filter post.

I started saving my used paper coffee filters made by If You Care back when I realized they were not breaking down in the compost pile and are made of high quality paper. I buy these from Deep Roots Co-op in Greensboro because I am committed to buying recycled products when possible. It is most ecologically sustainable to use the reusable washable filter that comes with the coffee maker, and that is mostly what I do, but that’s not what this post is about.

Anyway, I am working on an accordion style book that is supposed to hang on display in the Triangle Book Arts group show in 2018. The book’s theme is “FLOW” which is turning out to be rich creative ground for me, almost too much. As I started thinking about the back side of the pages and the connectors, these coffee filters came to mind. I knew that they took markers well so I decided to do ink washes on them.

I found out that some of them have wonderful resists to the ink. Next time I pull any out of the compost I will set them aside to see if it was the compost effect.

Now the problem is too many ideas. This might be a good problem to have if it helps me make a unified body of work, but as someone with panic disorder it can stop me cold. I will try to focus on getting this one book finished over the next three days and jotting down the other ideas for later.

art, Art Makers Denver, art retreats, collage, Colorado, Denver

Art Makers Denver

^^^McNicols Building

I’ve just returned from a new-to-me art retreat, Art Makers Denver, where I took a paper painting collage class from Elizabeth St. Hilaire. I’ve been following her work online for a while and since I like to visit my family near Denver in September I jumped at the chance to combine that trip with this retreat this year.

The retreat was smaller than most of the ones that I’ve attended elsewhere, which made for smaller classes and more attention (if you like more attention). I had a big table all to myself, which was great since I tend to push into other people’s spaces. The venue was the recently renovated McNicols Building in Civic Center Park, a spacious and light-filled place. Delicious lunches were provided on two days and on the third day we were each given a $10 voucher to use at the food truck festival in the park outside. We got lots of extra goodies such as locally made sodas and juice drinks, healthy snacks, a copy of Uppercase magazine, and various arty thingies.

I was really looking forward to taking one of Leighanna Light‘s book classes because she is, well, AWESOME, and because I learned so much about connecting found objects and working with metal in the class I took from her a few years ago, but her classes were canceled. I looked for Helen Hiebert, who is huge in the papermaking world and I simply wanted to meet her, but her classes didn’t make either. So hopefully this retreat will become more popular as it matures and more people learn about it.

One other note before I get on to the other photos…this was the first time that I took the bus round trip from Westminster, a suburb of Denver, to downtown. It was an easy, clean, flawless experience. I heard good things about Denver’s new light rail system too. Although the train trip to the airport is a bit pricey, it still beats the price of a taxi or renting a car, and costs less than paying for parking downtown.

^^^Since Leighanna’s class was canceled on Sunday, I spent an extra day painting and printing papers in Elizabeth’s class. I didn’t mind, because I love doing this. I went as fast as I could without overthinking. The only things I kept in mind were the colors I might need for the collage and layers. Lots of layers. I used old book pages, dictionary pages, sheet music, map pages from a book about Colorado mining towns, washed and dried coffee filters, handmade papers, and the backs of some of the papers I painted and printed in Albie Smith’s class at An Artful Journey in 2011.

^^^Some of Elizabeth’s demonstration papers using alcohol droppers and spritzing with liquid dish soap on top of wet paint.

^^^Beautiful art installation to which the attendees were asked to decorate a tag and hang.

^^^Because the nearly full moon was huge over the weekend and I could still see it hanging over the mountains each morning, I hoped to do this painting as a collage after my apple. But time ran out. I’ll do it here in North Carolina.

^^^Everyone in class painted an apple before class in acrylic on a firm surface such as a canvas covered mat board or wooden panel. Elizabeth wanted us to work with a simple shape where we would learn about light and shadow. I’ll work a little more on my background, but my apple is done. Even though two people told me they thought it was a pumpkin. o_O

^^^More Denver scenes.