Sunday, December 30, 2012


6x6 inch, paper collage

My 62nd birthday was yesterday, a day that passed relatively quietly.  The studio needed straightening up in a big way. I had piles of gallon-sized plastic zip lock bags filled with collage papers piled on my work table and I needed to put them away so I could think.  Some people thrive on clutter, but I am not one.  My focus is too easily distracted by salvaged stacks of butterflies and moths, tissues and Japanese printed papers, 1940's magazine ads.  So at least for a while the table only has stacks of watercolor paper, prepared into my favorite 6x6 inch size, and some old comic books, snipped into separate panels and sorted by dominant color.

Being in my sixties is something that I am trying hard to adjust to. Grandma Tess, who lived to within three months of her 100th birthday, used to make me laugh because she said she felt young inside, not counting her failing eyesight and hearing.  She was interested in fashion and the television news, and resisted joining activities at the local senior center because she didn't want to be around old people.  She didn't identify with old people.   I am beginning to understand her point of view, although part of me has always liked older folks.  My aunt and my dad's cousin are both women in their eighties, and I love visiting with them, admire them, and find them beautiful.  I'm having more trouble thinking of myself in that way, though if I avoid mirrors I can just carry on as if time was not passing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

See Jane Red

6x6 inches, paper collage

It was a gray, cold day, but working on this little collage put me in a sunnier place.  I originally wanted to do a more or less monochromatic collage with a floral theme, but then I remembered how much I like complimentary under paintings in my regular painting work, so I added the green first layer.  Then I found this charming little girl from an old science text.  Then I thought I needed something blue to really make the center of interest pop, so I added some British postage stamps from the letters of my pen pal.  There are lots of things that mean something to me - a bit of a Wisconsin map, tinted red, part of a pretty cocktail napkin gifted to me by a friend, a bit of a receipt from Dad's old business.  It all goes together nicely, I think. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

First Snow

6x6 inches, paper collage with splattered paint

On Wednesday we had our first real snow of the season.  Here in town we probably only accumulated four or five inches, but further north and west they had a real blizzard.  It's hard to complain, since it wasn't too long ago I still had greenish grass and pansies blooming.  It''s all covered in white now, and much more festive than it was before the storm. 

I saw a news photo from Madison of a young woman playing in the snow with her dog, and decided to adapt it for this small collage.  I used bits of magazine ads and photos, part of a Wisconsin map and some bits of graph paper.  I love the dark shape of the jumping dog.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


6x6 inch collage, 1980s Superman comic book

I have been coping with recent horrific news reports by limiting how much time I spend watching them, and by spending time in the studio.  

I've been wondering if these little experiments in comic collage bend all sorts of copyright rules.  That certainly isn't my intention; my goal is to celebrate the artwork, study it a bit, and see how I can manipulate the colors and images to create something new.  

I am also curious how the papers will hold up, outside of their original covers.  The pieces of panels are all encased in acrylic gel medium, and sprayed with an UV inhibiting spray, but I imagine they still may fade.  Perhaps the UV spray will help delay that.

Where is Superman, when you really need him, anyway?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dark Day

6x6 inches, collage with found and altered papers, stamp

The past couple weeks I've basically ignored Christmas, with the exception of addressing and writing notes in several dozen cards.  No duplicated letter this year, probably because I have slowly come to realize that people who are close to me already know what we've been up to - which is the same as last year - and nobody else is fascinated by hearing about our lives.  Or worse yet they think that I'm bragging about our travels, and that we have altogether too much time on our hands, with all the miles my husband has put on his bicycle, or the art work I have finished. I'm not imagining this; variations have fallen from the lips of friends and relatives more than once. And absolutely nobody is interested in my plantar fasciitis or recent costly dental work.  So I have settled on writing a couple lines wishing the recipients happiness and health.

There probably are reasons for my annual winter funks.  Christmas is one. We do not have children, so obviously we also do not have grandchildren, and children are the focus of most Christmas events around here.  We don't have little ones wanting to see Santa, begging to put up trees or make cookies. No school programs. Our parents are gone, so no gifts bought or visits planned, and neither of us needs or wants much by way of gifts for ourselves.  If we need anything, we go out and get it - usually second hand.  We're not church goers, for all sorts of personal reasons, so are not involved in those sorts of activities and programs.  I find myself occasionally feeling wistful about missing the old excitement of the season, and not even heading out to the holiday light show at the local botanical garden, watching lighthearted television and movies, or dropping off a donation at a fine local charity does much to lighten my mood. Our lack of snow and dark wet days don't help much either. Television news is simply one catastrophe after another, each one worse than the previous.

Light deprivation is possibly a contributing factor in my gloominess; I should go outside more, though there is little sun to be found out there. I bought my winter bottle of vitamin D rich fish oil last week, and have been sitting at my work table with the fill spectrum light - am still waiting for those benefits to kick in.

So, for now I'm listening to  my winter playlist, and collaging away like mad.   Some days I go back into my stash of papers and saved images and reorganize, or weed out things that don't speak to me any more, or I paint tissue paper in colors I want to use.  Other days I just settle down to cut and paste, and wait for the light to return.

These are the sorts of things I've been working on recently.

6x6 inches

6x6 inches

Thursday, December 6, 2012


One of the good things about being retired is that I can pursue my interests in more than one way, and sometimes the Universe sends me something that sparks an idea.  I heard about this book on NPR a while back, and then my husband brought it home from the library.  He read it very quickly, so I decided to also read it before it needed to be returned.  I've always been interested in lettering, though I do not have particularly fine penmanship, and little patience for practicing calligraphy.  But I am fascinated by printing styles, and was happy to discover the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Manitowoc.  This little book has me staring at typeface in magazines, along the roadways, and on restaurants. 

Another book I had been meaning to take a look at is this one by collage artist Randel Plowman, whose blog posts I follow, and who not so long ago moved to this area.  He came out with this slim book that has clear explanations about what materials he uses and the processes he uses to assemble his work, as well as ideas for getting started. 

So, this week I've been trying out some of his exercises.  This one, using images from a Spider Man comic book, appeals to me because of the grid organization.  I did several from different comic books and this one was my favorite so far.  I think it is the big splashy words that give the  little 6x6 inch collage its punch.  I've always liked including writing in my collage work; it makes the art more personal, and little words seem to make people stop and try to read the text.  I often incorporate old diaries, letters or bits of novels or textbooks into my work.

This collage, also six by six inches, is from an advertisement in a 1970s Life magazine.  The ad was for a Kodak camera that warned you when your flash cube needed to be replaced.  All I did was take the headline, "Seeing Red" and cut it into squares, also bits of the flash cubes and the image in the viewfinder.  I attempted to make the typeface into an abstract design, and the little red photo makes a good focal point.

So, instead of putting up our tree, baking, or even writing out my cards,  I have been cutting and pasting.  I really must get going on Christmas - maybe tomorrow.