Mar 31, 2012

Something New

I was looking around my studio and found many things that were just damn ugly. The only thing they had going for them was that they were vintage, and vintage isn't always pretty. On their own the color combinations weren't working, and when I held them together ... yikes! So I decided to take these mismatched ugLY fabric and paper and make a collage.

First I made a kind of a patchwork then adjusted the colors a bit with glazes. Still not much going on, so I added some oil pastels. What I really like about this piece is that it looks nothing like anything I've ever done before. So my recommendation is take the ugliest, mismatched stuff in your studio and make something out of it. Maybe you'll find something new as well. 

Mar 30, 2012

Guilty Pleasures

I've been experimenting with traditional art supplies recently -- acrylic paint & mediums, pastels, oil pastels, inks. I've had this stuff in my studio for years but just didn't have any reason to use it. I love repurposing useless things and giving them a new life. But using the traditional mediums ... I'm feeling kinda guilty but I can't stop!

Mar 28, 2012

Free Store Fun

I love exploring the ideas of alternative social and economic systems. (Maybe that's why I Occupy?) When I heard that there was a pop up free store at Occupy Town Square in Fort Green Park this weekend I had to participate. Lots of great clothes and all kinds of useful stuff. There was something really beautiful about the fact that everything was free -- it was a delightful little vacation, a breath of fresh air. I brought some art supplies and got a great haul of vintage postcards (for collage).

Thanks to Calliope for creating this really inspiring banner. You can see more of her work here

Greetings from Riverhead!

I'm an artist and collector of vintage postcards, so I decided to photograph my home town and create my own hand colored vintage postcards. I had such a wonderful adventurous day doing this project!

Dear Andrea
This place is just magical in a creepy crime scene kind of way. The little dock is seriously dangerous and so is the one remaining swing. Behind the pool you can see the top of a grand pagoda. I went to check it out and its like one of the seven wonders of Riverhead. The ceiling is made of up of spectacular Chinese paintings. This ambitious and surreal project was never completed. That part I can understand, but why was it started. You'd love this place!

Dear Darlene & Brent,
I was really excited to see a family enjoying the river. They said they were new to fishing and were just out for the fun of it. Hope they don't catch anything because Brookhaven Labs dumped heavy metals (including mercury) organics (including PCBs) and radionuclides in to the river years ago. Like they didn’t know how dangerous that was, they’re a research lab! I checked online to see what the safety recommendations were for consuming fish caught in the Peconic River and came up with conflicting reports. Brookhaven labs said it was “fine”. Well, the river was so beautiful in spite of the radionuclides that we plan to rent a canoe some time in the next few weeks. I think that should be pretty save as long as we don't fall in. Want to come with us?
Patti & David

Dear Robinson,
You may think this is a stock photo, but I assure you that there are wild animals are living along the river and that I took it myself. I think this dock is a great place for baby raccoons to live because they get a freshly prepared gourmet dinner when the fisherman return. I hear they’re pretty good swimmers, too. Unfortunately I didn’t encounter any more wildlife that day but I know there are deer, turtles, bats, great blue heron and salamanders that make this river their home. 

Dear Sandra,
My cousin said that she was willing to sponsor us to the of Moose, and we may take her up on it because she said if you’re a Moose for like 10 years you could retire to Moose Village and not have to be homeless. So I looked it up and found that Moose members included Harry S. Truman, Danny Thomas, Jimmy Stewart, Arnold Palmer and Ernest Borgnine. Some of my other cousins live down the street from the Lodge, and we have an annual Easter kite flying contest on the Moose field. It’s pretty competitive, with people using fishing poles & line so they can get their kite the highest. Yes, and we have cool trophies too, like a horse’s ass for the loser, but we only give that one to an adult. One year a cousin invited an Indian family she knew from work. The problem was that they used glass covered kite string made famous in the book “The Kite Runner”. It was kind of a culture clash. Maybe you want to be a Moose too & we can live in the Moose village together when we get old?
Your best friend,

Mar 26, 2012

Tiny Repurposed Embroidery

I've been really interested in embroidery lately, but not the traditional kind. I decided to start small -- this tiny embroidery is less than 1 inch square. The base is a pair of white linen pants. I've used little scraps of paper and cloth that ended up on my studio floor and built up the layers until I was satisfied. Fun! More to come ... 

Why Is That Girl Holding a Gun?

I have a collection of LIFE magazines from the 60s. I bought them many years ago and they keep on being inspirational. The woman on the top left is a packing tape transfer from a car ad circa 1964. What was that Mad Men ad exec thinking when he decided that this very modern woman would make people buy a car more if she was holding a wild west handgun?

I'm not very good at creating a body of work. I make lots of different things and the common denominator is that they're based on repurposing.  But that's about the only thing these pieces have in common. I found 12 pieces of free plywood and challenged myself to make 12 collages in one month. I used LIFE magazine, pattern paper, 50s fabric, ink and nail polish in this piece.

Mixed Media in the Spring

I've been making collages forever. In the beginning I was inspired by Joseph Cornell. My study of his work led to a job cataloging his source materials before they were shipped to The Archives of American Art. Much of this collection has been digitized and is now available online through the Smithsonian.

What's new in this piece is the use of acrylic paint (white) and Golden Clear Tar Gel. I got the wonderful book Surface Treatment Workshop and was really interested in the ways acrylic mediums can add texture and depth to collage.  Being someone who never follows instructions I made up a few of my own recipes.  Here I layered scraps of fabric and paper with colored inks and gel medium on a scrap of plywood and finished off with a thick layer of tar gel and a matte varnish. I used tape around the edges to build up the layers of Tar Gel -- still working on a way to get it really flat and to get rid of the little bubbles. 

Mar 13, 2012

Old School Polaroid Transfers

Sometimes we only realize that an experience was really magical when we look back on it.  The afternoon I took this photo I was completely aware that it was a real gift be able to share this kind of creative adventure. When he was feeding the bird I saw something that perfectly represented what I was feeling. After the image was completed it took on an additional meaning, more of a spiritual representation of past and present, ghosts and memories.
This image was created using the Polaroid transfer process, which always has a large element of chance involved no matter how well you know it. I love surprises and the unpredictable interaction with the medium along with the truly old school process.
I’m a Polaroid geek. Film has gotten more rare & pricy but now we can all be digital Polaroid geeks with iPhone apps like Shakeitphoto. I use this mac app called Instant Its really useful for blurring a pixelated iPhone pic just enough and making it cool. 
I've actually done a photo series I’ve done using a broken digital camera. Once again I’m drawn to an unpredictable process and a reflection on memory and nostalgia.

Mar 11, 2012

Moss in a Dish Garden

As an artist I look for inspiration everywhere.  This week, I checked out the Hawaii themed Philadelphia International Flower Show. You wouldn’t believe the amazing things people can do with plants! It very much reminded me of dogs at Westminster -– neither the dogs or the plants look the same way in real life as they do at these events.

I rescue and find homes for Pekingese dogs. My dogs don’t look much like the astonishing Malachy who won best in show at Westminster this year. And my plants don’t have much in common with the fancy ones at the Flower Show. Except in the case of the hot new trend: moss!

The Flower Show hosted a packed workshop all about moss that was filled with moss enthusiasts like myself. Moss is having a moment because its low maintence and eco friendly. Save the earth & be lazy -- that's a perfect combo in my book. If you don't enough moss in you yard you can order more online. 
Because I love the challenge of making art and crafts with recycled and found materials, I decided to unleash my inner floral designer and make a moss dish garden using just what I could find in the house and yard.

I took a dish from the kitchen and filled the bottom with stones for drainage. Then I added soil, driftwood, rocks, moss and little plants. For maintenance I’ll water the plants at the roots when needed and mist the moss frequently. This would be a good project to do with the kids because you’ll see all kinds of little plants popping up that you might otherwise not have noticed. Happy Spring!