Sunday, September 23, 2012

50-50 Exhibit - Only One More Week

Gosh. I cannot believe it was one year ago when I first visited Sanchez Art Center to see their 3rd Annual 50-50 Exhibit!!! In fact, I aspired last year to be in the show this year -- and I am; soon to be I was. The 6"x6" artwork of almost 70 artists come off the walls next Sunday, September 30, at closing time. The center's gallery is open on Friday through Sunday, from 1 - 5pm. GO! If you haven't already been!

The process of creating 50 pieces of art in 50 days was truly amazing with many, many lessons-learned. The most significant ones that come to my mind just now are: 1) how important an intention is, 2) trust the creative process, and 3) a dead-line can be very motivating.

These three pieces are from my 50-50 series, Pilgrims' Journey; Sacred Places, Prayers and  Devotional Tokens. In this body of artwork I have intentionally juxtaposed different cultures and traditions on each collage, hoping to achieve a balanced kaleidoscope-type composition. To invoke a sense of age, all of the sacred place images and tokens are in black and white, and the majority of them from vintage (over twenty plus years old) books and other sources.

Each collage is composed of a sacred place, devotional token, bird/s, map and sacred text. As I created each collage, I felt like I was tending to my altar by arranging specific iconic items representing what I want to remember, or conversely, what I don't want to forget.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Odds and Ends, Left-Overs & Remnants make GREAT ATCs

A couple weeks ago, I was forced to clean-up the stacks and packets of paper around my private work area in the studio. I was forced because I had no more place to stash more paper or stuff in my immediate area, I couldn't find whatever I was looking for, and "it" was creeping out into the public space which was needed for an upcoming workshop.

As all collage artists know, you NEED to save most everything interesting that you come across: a label off a bottle of tea or wine, vellum left over from a stamping project, a note card or advertisement, scraps left-over from another collage piece or chine-colle on a print, etc. In the last couple years, I have been given several bags and boxes of art "stuff" from friends that are either down-sizing, moving, or have passed away. They confirmed that I wasn't the only collage artist that saved "stuff" for a some-day project. I took great joy in fondling all the odds and ends which they have collected over the years to use; bird nest material, wrapping paper, netting from avocado or citrus bags, bark, home-made papers, dried flowers, paper from Japan and Italy, receipts, photo negatives, match books, and etc.

Back to cleaning off my work area -- I had little clear envelopes of all the scraps and left-over pieces not used on the last couple years of SoulCollage® cards, Artist Trading Cards (ATCs), haiga (haiku painting), and other collage pieces. OH MY!!! All the larger pieces I put away in their appropriate containers to be used later, but I was left with bags of wonderful little, pieces of paper that I couldn't bear to part with (hence the small clear envelopes). By all rights, most of the small scraps should be put in the recycled bin. Alas - I started making ATCs from the little tiny pieces . . . Started to make only six cards, just enough to send off for our monthly ATC trading, yet I couldn't stop till I had to clean-up for a workshop -- twenty-two cards later. They were soooooooo fun and are now my favorite (I know I say that with almost every new series!!!)

I admit that I did cut out some more "remnants" of ancient civilizations to use in this series - though I did have many of the images already cut out ready to go somewhere. Watercolor paper was used between the backing paper and front collage; I like thick cards. "Shimmering Metallics" offered by Soul Expression was the backing paper. Once all the cards were pasted together, flattened between books, trimmed, and stamped on the back, I lightly sanded the edges and the front images. Pretty easy! Much fun!! I challenge you -- or invite you -- to create your own 3 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch collages from left-overs, odds and ends, & remnants.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Collage Camp

Since Spring Collage Camp ended last Tuesday, I've been reflecting on how to best describe the four-day experience. Of course I can state that it was fun, meaningful, relaxing, intense, and insightful . . . yet how do those words really describe the experience to someone who hasn't attend Collage Camp? Just like any deep spiritual experience or personal awakening, words to describe it are only like a finger pointing at the moon.

H. Harrison and P. Crasdal from their book, Collage for the Soul, state:  "When a collage is finished a transformation has occurred. Where there once was a random collection of found or created objects and images, there is now a cohesive work." Nowhere else in art-making does synchronicity and intention have such power and impact as in collage-making. By trusting the process of selecting images that resonate with intention and present state of being, a person is transformed by the collision and integration of all the metaphors and symbols that show up in a collage. Or not -- if they do not trust the process.

Collage is much fun! Children do collage -- anyone can do collage (maybe not as good as children). Collage is also recognized as a fine art form. Collage is everywhere as advertisements, serendipitous on street corner posts and fences, in galleries and classrooms -- It is popular because by using images and found objects, a person can make art without being able to draw or know color theory and all that stuff.

Collage also is a powerful process to learn about oneself; a tool for self-discovery. Something happens when we trust our intuition to create a collage. Something emerges when we reflect on the placement and meaning of an image and how it relates to our life. Something transpires when we interact or dialog with the symbology chosen for self-expression. That something is transformation.

So -- back to camp.  It is always a small group (no more than 6 women) to ensure intimacy and individual coaching. We spend four days, each about 6 hours, in each other's good company creating, reflecting, sharing, playing, envisioning, relaxing, journaling, re-creating, and more with collage. We all start by crafting a large collage which then becomes the "jumping off" point, or as Coeleen Kiebert calls it, "grist for the mill" for other collage and art-making projects during the remainder of the camp. One woman during this last camp made eighteen SoulCollage® cards that directly related to her upcoming birthday!

It is an awesome process! (I need to get some testimonials by camp attendees up on my website. Hint. Hint.) I feel very blessed to be able to offer this kind of opportunity. Perhaps you will join us for the next camp - most likely to be scheduled this autumn.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)

A sunny, warm day after weeks of overcast skies and being cold is an indicator of a new, fresh spring season for me. Though this year, it feels like we have had a few false starts of spring with an odd winter season of barely any rain. Regardless, to me spring smells like freesias and clematis; sounds like bird song; feels fresh and invigorating; and, tastes like chocolate covered egg candies. I always equate spring with Easter. A "vintage" photograph taken of my younger brother and sister, in their pastel colored clothes with Easter baskets in their hands, posing in the backyard surrounded by blooming iris is the epitome of spring for me.

Yet when it comes to making spring ATCs, something comes over me and I want to create something totally NOT nostalgic or reminiscent of spring or Easter. My favorite spring ATCs were made in 2010 with stickers of yellow Peep's and the series was called "Peep's Perils". Here is one:

Hehehhheeeh. I had so much fun with that series!!! Poor Peep was cast in numerous perilous situations. Hehehhehe. I think how much you giggle as you create an ATC is an indicator on how much fun you are having. So - this year, I went back to giggling... hehhhhe. Every time I cut off a head of an Easter bunny and pasted it onto a new body I giggled, and giggled. The giggle sounded like the same giggle I make when I bite the head off a gingerbread cookie man.

The great looking bunny heads were from a sheet of reproduction vintage German die cut rabbits. The backgrounds and backs were Soul Expression's Featured ATC Products - Spring Designs and Spring Pastel Colors. I pasted magazine images onto the backgrounds, then pasted those on watercolor paper (also sold by Soul Expression), and then pasted the back on. I love thick ATCs! Then I rounded the corners, rubbed the cards edges on Tim Holtz® Crushed Olive  Distress Ink pad, and stamped the back with "Wabbit" and the date, my web address, number and intial. Heehehe... giggle, giggle...

Wishing you a wonderful Easter and spring season 
full of chocolate treats and sunshine! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

the creative process continues...

Soul Expression's first 15-day Art-Making Challenge Exhibit was great fun and was officially the last stage of the challenge's creative process. Of course, the creative process is not truly linear, yet to guide our own creative process it is helpful to have a model. There are many models and theories how creativity happens and how we can manage it; most of them share similar elements with different titles. Soul Expression uses Coeleen Kiebert's five stages of the creative process which are:
1. Statement of Intention
2. Gathering
3. Explosion
4. Assimilation
5. Cognition

Everyone who joined in our first challenge started with the statement of intention -- the first step was to commit to participate in the challenge. Then the artists began gathering -- generating ideas and energy, along with materials and tools. The third stage is the explosion of the art-making happening -- all of a sudden the ideas, energy and resources all come together. 

Toni's collages, iris folding and paintings at the Challenge Exhibit
Assimilation is the stage many artists forget, ignore, or hurry. This step is when we reflect on what we created and prepare for what is next. I try to take time to write down in my "art journal" what I enjoyed and learned about the process, along with recording the materials I used.

Most participants responded to a short questionnaire about their process which encouraged assimilation. Here are insights from two artists:  
During the 15-day Challenge, what hindered your process or frustrated you? 
In the beginning, people interrupted me... yet I forged forward and did not allow the interruptions to bother me. 
What helped your process or supported you during the Challenge?
What made a huge difference once I got into the process was setting up my art table in the living room. Once I started, I didn't put anything away until after completing the challenge.

Julie's collages, memory box and jewelry at the Challenge Exhibit

Cognition, the final stage, is when the artist presents their creations to the community and opens up to comments from others. Some times the art takes on new meaning or becomes clearer when it is shared. Also inspiration for the next creative experience often comes from the feedback. It is not at the end of every project that an exhibition is held -- which was very special attribute of Soul Expression's 15-day Art Making Challenge. To prepare for an exhibit takes some thought and work, which I believe we are all looking forward to doing again -- with the next Art-Making Challenge! The creative process continues... 

Belinda's photographs at the Challenge Exhibit

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 16 - Challenge Over - or is it?

During these first two weeks or so of this new year, I have have learned a lot about myself and THE creative process. Realizing now that this challenge has really started for me in earnest, not ended. The challenge is really day-to-day; how to incorporate art-making into my daily life. I can make an argument why this isn't a challenge, that really it is a blessing, but regardless it remains a question for me to live into.

Back to Soul Expression's New Year 15 day Art-Making Challenge: I completed 16 pieces (yes - an extra one!) - well almost - I still need to touch up a couple areas with white acrylic and spray the last 5 pieces with a finish. Also my dad taught me that a project is never finished till we put all our tools back to where they belong. Then I also need to scan them all for "history" and jot down any additional notes on the methods I used, such as what worked or what I would do differently. Oh - then I need to show them to the "world" as a final stage of the creative process. Wow! It keeps going . . . so when are we done?

The creative process is exactly like that - a process. It doesn't really stop or begin, it is on-going in many aspects of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Sigh. Okay! Let me get back to specifics, I learned much from this 15 day challenge which I hope to integrate into my creative process going forth. So -- what did you learn (or not)? Would love to see your art which you created and talk to you about your process! 

Let us all meet at Chase Art Studio next Saturday, January 28, at 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm for an exhibit and light snacks to share our insights. No RSVP is required unless you are bringing your art to show us; then you need to contact me so we can set-up an area in the studio for your art. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 11 - January 11, 2012 - 11 pieces complete

Today after I spilled walnut ink over some 5 pieces in the making by mistake, I am now proclaiming that I have completed 11 pieces of art. The spill hastened the process of finishing several canvases sooner than I had planned. Since I had a third of a bottle of walnut ink on my work surface, I decided to sponge it around the edges of the canvases I spilled on and others that were almost ready for the final touch! The creative process is often mysterious and peculiar . . .

So -- how is it going for you all that took on this challenge - or not? I am still pretty excited and motivated, as I really enjoy creating series which share common materials and themes. With every piece, I incorporate what I learn or like (or not) into the next piece. Of course, there are mis-takes -- which I am attempting to view as another way of learning and a new place to start from. I am growing more confidant that I cannot really ruin any of the 6 x 6 inch canvases that I am working on; they are much more resilient than paper and the layers of add nice texture . . .

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4 - Art-Making is Happening (and not)

Monday is "art day" at Chase Studio and I couldn't wait to get out into the studio to play with the little canvases. Ideas are flowing and I want to try new different materials on this series. Oh my! One participant texted me: "hope my head can make it thru this. Stimulation up the yin yang." Once started - I am in the process - engaged in Soul Expression. Committing to this challenge has been very motivating and inspiring for me in many ways!

And - life happens. I didn't make it into the studio yesterday and today only for a couple hours to finish (maybe?) a couple pieces. Then tomorrow I am going away to a New Year writing retreat till Sunday. It will be much fun but I won't be working to complete my 15 pieces. This is exactly how my life is - juggling activities (some planned, some not) around my home & family, and commitments everyday. How to fit art-making into an already busy life?

collage with gesso, glue, watercolor crayon, water-soluble oil pastel, acrylic paint and a dye stain

When I realized that I would be away on retreat, I thought that I might plan the 15-day challenge around it. Perhaps the challenge could start the Monday I returned? Then I looked at my calendar and saw that I had several full days of commitments the following week, then the next week looked even busier because . . . That is exactly how life can be, at least for me. I have not yet made my art-making the most important priority of my life, and life happens. So - the challenge has begun and I am fully in it! Are you? What is coming up for you?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 1 - January 1, 2012 - Getting Started

Today is first day of a new year and the first day of our 15-day Art-Making Challenge. It wasn't until I put away all the holiday decorations did I actually get into the studio. Getting started on a new project has always been hard for me, yet I am learning to manage my process. I go grocery shopping, take Tesha to dog park, make telephone calls, clean the toilet or other things I rarely do before I commit myself to going into the studio. Not quite sure why I have a hard time starting - but once I do - I am pretty happy and engaged in the process. In fact, once I start a project, all I want to do is be in the studio working on it!

So - I have been looking forward to the challenge ever since we dreamed it up in late November at the Kurt Schwitters' Exhibit in Berkely. I knew I wanted to create 6" x 6" collages with a common theme but didn't know what materials I would be using. It is easy for me to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities (see more on this at Tuesday, May 31, 2011 blog posting). After I put away all the dishes and supplies on the counters (more stalling and distraction) and unwrapped five 6" x 6" canvases, I decided I would start with what was right in front of me; a calendar of black and white Zen-like nature photographs that a good friend gave me a few days ago.

Black and white felt good and I wanted at least one other key black and white source to collage with the photographs. I then decided it would be great fun to use the photographs of Pre-Columbian Art from "University Prints" that I bought last summer. Of course, there will be color - probably bird images, messengers of the sacred, and acrylics or maybe gouache, and, or perhaps origami paper or . . .

starting place: cleaned-up work area & staging of materials
In managing my creative process, I have learned not to get too far of myself, such as having everything determined ahead of time. Once in the process, I am much more aware of what is needed for whatever I am engaged in. Make sense? Just start - start with what I know and what is in front of me; that is my new motto these days.

Several participants of this challenge are concerned about not being able to make a finished piece of art every day for 15 days. No where in the description of Soul Expression's Art-Making Challenge does it state that you must complete something every day for 15 days; it reads, "15 finished pieces in 15 days". Think about it. There are some things you could complete - yet there are many things which will take time to dry or evolve over several days. Late today I started - I started by beginning the first collage layer (or two) on 5 pieces. Perhaps tomorrow I will finish a piece or two - or finish three - or start another background or . . . My intention, the first stage of the creative process, is to make 15 pieces of art in the first 15 days of January 2012. Now that I have started - I am pretty happy!

layers of paper adhered to canvas with matte medium, now drying for tomorrow's "play"

Tell me -- how was your first day? How did you feel? What did you do (or not do)? Please leave your comments and email any images you would like for me to post for you to illustrate your journey.