Friday, February 29, 2008

The Wallet Challenge

I don’t usually post my take on our club challenge before the meeting, but since I’ll be staying in Toronto with David and Emma for part of the weekend, I decided to share it with you now.
This month our task was to alter a dollar store wallet, and I really enjoyed the project—mainly because I treated it as a journal. First, I decorated the “cover” with one of Carmi’s fab French embellishments from her online store. Then, for a two-week period, I filled the wallet with mini collages, ATCs and the digital work I was doing at the time. Come to think of it, I did a similar thing in June of 2006 when I turned a CD case into a painting journal, so I guess I’m repeating myself.
Anyway, last night my friend Susan Wilkie came by for tea, and it was fun to be able to show her the wallet because she’s such an avid journaler herself. Susan reminded me that we met when she came to an ATC workshop I was giving at Great Impressions back in 2000 (and we’ve been fast friends ever since). Really, I can’t help but be grateful for all the wonderful friends I’ve made—and continue to make—through art.
Susan brought me a Moleskine Watercolor Notebook which I’m really excited about because I love the landscape format. This gives me the incentive to finish my present journal so I can get started on Susan’s. Thanks girlfriend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Robin's New Play

My brother Robin’s latest play Whitewash opens tonight at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace in Toronto, and runs from February 28 to March 9, 2008. (His partner, Wendy White did the costume and set design as well as helping Robin with the development of the play).
Whitewash explores the events surrounding the murder of Dudley George, an Ojibwa who was shot during a protest demanding the return of native land that had been seized by the Canadian government.
Robin’s plays focus on socially relevant subjects like homophobia, domestic abuse, depression and schizophrenia, and have been produced in Canada and the U.K. They are dark and complex works of art filled with experimental language … in other words, they really push the envelope! You can find out more about Robin and Whitewash by visiting the Platform 9 website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Portrait of Jessie

I’m really not that concerned with the quality of old images I buy, or their provenance because I’m always asking myself: what can I do with them in Photoshop? Besides, it’s fun to imagine who the person was in the photo might have been, and what their lives were like. Sometimes I feel like the custodian of several dozen imaginary lives.
But on the back of this tiny tintype of a toddler is the name “Jessie Collard Jones,” and a note that she lived from 1865 to 1936. Because of the length of her hair, I’m guessing Jessie was probably no more than two when this picture was taken, which makes this tintype 141 years old! How could I resist turning Jessie into an ATC to celebrate her life?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out With Mary

Mary and I went to the Vintage Paper Show in Toronto on the weekend and had a ball. I felt like a little tugboat trailing around in the wake of The Expert, since Mary has an uncanny knack of zeroing in on just the right ephemera you can’t live without.
I was hoping to buy old photos to add to my collection, and there were plenty—like this charming one of three friends in spectacular hats. For the most part, the prices were very reasonable, and I soon learned you could bargain with the vendors … something I’ve never done before, and enjoyed. Mind you, there was a $195 cabinet card of Sir John A. MacDonald (Canada’s first prime Minister), and a spectacular atlas for $750 that I wish I could have afforded, but I have no complaints
In addition to old photos, I got an album and a bird book, vintage travel pictures of European hot spots for 25 cents a package, and then Mary and I split a case of glass slides, which was the find of the day. We’re not sure what we’re going to do with them, but how could we resist?

What surprised me, though, were the number of vendors selling postcards. Postcards seemed to be the most popular collectable at the show, although one buyer anxiously interrupted me to ask if I’d come across any photos of old store interiors. Huh? (Apparently that’s what he collects). At the time I found this hilarious and barely managed to keep a straight face as I helped him look. However, he didn’t get my whole Photoshop/Cabinet Card thing either, so it’s great that our individual eccentricities are given lots of leeway when it comes to expressing them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Taking Time to Contemplate

Sometimes being busy gives me the illusion that I’m accomplishing a lot. But what usually happens when I’ve completed several tasks is that a whole new slew of things rush in to fill the vacuum, and I feel like I’m no further ahead.
But last night I had an interesting dream. As a teenager, I became quite good at high jumping, and in my dream I was at some sort of competition waiting anxiously for my turn to jump, when this voice behind me said: “There is no bar.”

I’ve been thinking about this Zen message off and on all day … this compulsion to prove ourselves and how absurd it really is. So tonight I lay around on the sofa staring at the ceiling for about an hour. And you know what? It felt good to just let my mind wander without feeling the need any agenda, or a resolution.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shabby Chic

Here’s another digital collage using two of Christina’s Shabby Chic papers from her digiWERX scrapbooking line, plus a scan of alcohol inks on glass and the inside of a watch.
I was thinking about time yesterday … mainly because I got the date mixed up for our next club meeting. I thought it was this Friday, but it turns out we’re getting together on that once-every-four-years day, February 29th.Because it’s my turn to do the demo (and I went through so much angst doing the last challenge), I had decided to get everything done in advance. I like the feeling of being prepared ten days ahead of time, and I think I’ll do it again.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Simplicity Challenge

When it comes to art, I like to think of myself as a minimalist, but the truth is: I do tend to complicate things. The end product may end up looking simple, but it usually has nothing to do with the process of getting there.
For this reason, I was drawn to Jen Worden's latest weekly challenge, The Spirit of Simplicity. To play, you create either a collage, or an assemblage—whatever you do less of—check Jen’s blog for the complete details.
I decided to do an assemblage because I’ve been working a lot with mixed media and Photoshop recently. As soon as I started, I got bogged down trying to create something simple from my large stash of assemblage material. Where is the Spirit in that? So I made up my mind I’d do something that involved just three different elements, and then stop.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember that I was posting set-ups in August and September of 2006. (Set-ups are assemblages that can be disassembled because I don’t use any glue, nails or screws). I’ve missed doing them and decided this was the perfect opportunity to get back to basics.
For The Spirit of Simplicity, I chose a large marble, a plastic wedding cake pillar and a mirrored stand for crystal ornaments I bought at the dollar store. The cool thing about this stand is that when you put in some AAA batteries, pulsing different colored lights travel up the hollow pillar and illuminate the marble. It looks great in the dark!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beating the Doldrums

When I feel stuck with my work, playing in Photoshop always revives me. Last night I downloaded some digital papers from the digiWERX section of Christina Lazar Schuler’s website. What I like about downloading is that I experiment with these papers in Photoshop or print them out to use in hands-on projects.
For this digital collage, I combined a painting I did on glass and a cabinet card with three new digiWERX papers. And speaking of Christina, she has an 80-page full-color book out of all the collages she did last year. It’s available on her Etsy site where she also sells her collages.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved hearts. I recall thinking to myself then that the shape of a heart felt like a hug. And I still do.
But like the smiley face and Easter egg, hearts get a lot of commercial mileage. Sometimes I forget that love is much, much bigger than any symbol—no matter how much it appeals to me visually—so my plan for today is to express love in whatever I do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow, snow & more snow

Ronna mentioned on her blog yesterday that they’ve already had 8 ½ feet of snow this winter in her neck of the woods. I don’t know how much we’ve had here, but I went outside a few minutes ago with my ruler and it’s almost 2 feet deep on the porch. Zowie. Will it ever stop snowing? The weather has been really cold too. Yesterday I had to use my hair dryer to unfreeze the back door every time Lily wanted to go out. Instead of posting a picture of the snow though, I settled for this ATC. You can get a more dramatic view of what winter is like here in Canada by visiting Ronna’s blog and checking out the snowdrifts in front of her house.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lynne Perrella's New Book

Last week Jeanne Schedler sent me a copy of Art Making, Collections and Obsessions: An Intimate Exploration of the Collage Work and Collections of 35 Artists. Thanks girlfriend! It’s one of those books that opens up a door in the creative self. You get a glimpse of where you can go with your art—if you choose to walk to accept the invitation and walk through that doorway.
What I’ve been realizing as look at the amazing images and read the text (Perrella writes so well too) is that every artist I know is collector of sorts. Images, objects, feelings, experiences, techniques—whatever the combination—somehow they all blend together, enabling each of us to celebrate the creative self in our own unique way.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Red and White

I couldn’t seem to get a good photo of the ATCs we did for our meeting last night, but at least it will give you an idea of how differently each one of us expressed this month’s theme which was Red and White. We always have such a great time together, and I laughed more than I have for ages. There’s something liberating about the ATC format too, I think. Working to a particular size connects you to other ATCers, and yet you’re also free to be yourself.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jen Worden's Art Challenge

I often see art challenges posted online that I’d love to try, and just don’t have the time to complete. But when I visited Jennifer Pearson Vanier’s blog last night and saw what she had done with Jen Worden’s latest art challenge, I just had to try it myself.
If you check out Jen Worden’s blog, you can get all the details. What you basically do is take a glossy magazine photo, outline the edges with black permanent marker and then fill in the spaces with white gesso. This was a blast to do, and something I definitely want to play with again. Oh, and if you’re into assemblage like I am, you’ll find the art on Jen’s site inspiring.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Getting Things Done

When I was teaching college English, one of the psychology instructors showed me a diagram he was going to use in his class that day. It looked like the letter “C” rotated about 45 degrees to the left.
“So what’s your reaction?” he asked. “Well, I’d like to take my pen and turn it into a circle,” I replied. He laughed—and then told me I obviously had “a strong need for closure.”

I thought about this tonight while I was working on my fleet of art projects. I always want to be finished before I’ve barely begun. It’s not that I shy away from the work involved, or the time. No, I just want to know whether or not they will actually turn out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Angel Book

I finally did the cover for our collaborative Angel Book this weekend, and scanned all the pages. This was such an inspiring project to work on because angels and the creative spirit seem to be made for each other. This week I’ll be mailing off a CD to my fellow art angels … Carmi Cimicata, Mary Ambrose, Susan Wilkie, Brenda Shackleford, Sonja Wernke, Jeanne Schedler and Roberta Sperling (along with 3 of her Sunday School students who worked on her pages with her). Thank you all for participating.