Monday, November 16, 2015

What to do when the well runs dry, or how to deal with the blank page...

The well runs dry occasionally for each of us.

This week I’ve commenced working again after a fallow period that followed Open Studios. For whatever reason, I felt no passion for art-making for four long weeks. I got out my sewing machine and made half a dozen new tops, did some mending, read a lot, snacked too much, puttered around the house taking time to put my home back in order. A friend suggested that I needed to reclaim my home after giving it over to so many visitors, but that’s not it. Not at all. A couple of my spiritual gifts are hospitality and encouragement and I got to use those gifts freely during the open days. I absolutely loved that part of it, so much so that I’m now offering classes, some in my home.

Then yesterday I awakened to a desire to move on. I took out a bunch of heavyweight papers to use as substrates for new collages. Some were starts, some were old paintings that didn’t work, and some were virgins… pure white and ready to be sullied with whatever comes.

Having several different pieces going at the same time is nothing new, nor is working in series. That's what I'm doing now.
I laid 22 supports on my work table, got out a huge box of papers and set to work, choosing papers from the compost* in response to what was already on the supports. I set the timer and worked for an hour, pulling papers one by one and choosing additions to the starts according to color and to whim.

This morning I started again, but this time I chose a bit more carefully, adding from another box, thinking about pattern, color combinations, even a bit about content, though that comes much later. I’m still working intuitively.  After about 45 minutes I decided it was time for neutrals, so yet another box came out and for half an hour I added neutrals to each set of papers… browns, creams and beige, black, mixed no-name neutrals of painted papers. And then it was done. 

I ended with 20 sets of papers sitting on their supports, waiting for me to more carefully work them into finished collages. At this point I'll bundle and bag each start and set to work on just a few at once, still working in series and concentrating on a manageable number of individual pieces.  Some won’t make the grade. Most will bear no resemblance to their beginnings. 

Two of the white originals didn’t get going at all and that tells me something about how I work. My natural way to work is to respond to what’s already there. I need a starting point. It isn’t the fear of the white page; it’s simply not knowing what to do with the white paper unless I have a plan. 



Maybe you’ve been there, too. If you’re looking at a white piece of paper or a page in your sketchbook wondering what to do with it.  I have some ideas for you.

Work intuitively and claim the paper.  
·         Choose a piece of paper that you really like and glue it down somewhere on the page.
·         Load a big brush with a beautiful color and swipe it across the paper.
·         With a pen start drawing a convoluted line from one edge of the paper to the opposite edge.
·         Respond to whatever mark you made. Add something else: another paper or color or line.

Make a plan.
·         Sit down with your studio journal/sketchbook and draw. Work from something that’s in front of you or from a photo and make several thumbnail sketches for composition and value. 
·         Fill a page with thumbnail designs based on shape, line, form, pattern, etc..
·         Cut a viewfinder (a square or rectangle cut from the center of a piece of paper) and run it over magazine pages to isolate possible designs. Draw these as thumbnails.

Now get to work.  I’d love to see what you do and have you inspire me with your creations.

*Compost. A box of assorted papers, scraps, trimmings, photos, images that I paw through whenever I need something for a collage. The jumble of color and pattern works together to inspire new combinations.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Collage Adventures Workshops

Collage Adventures Workshops with Jo Reimer

During the Open Studios Tours so many people expressed an interest in collage classes that I've decided to give some time to teaching again. I've been a teacher most of my adult life and I'm excited at the prospect of sharing what I know with others.

I'm offering two workshops that I'm calling BootCamp, a day-long class for beginners to the discipline. December 29 or January 7 are the dates. You'll find a description and registration form by clicking on the Workshop tab at the top of this page.   

I hope to see some of you then. Class size is limited so sign up soon to reserve your place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two Art Studio Tours on the same weekend

The Washington County Studio Tour overlaps the Portland one on October 17-18 and I'm in both tour guides, along with two other Cedar Mill artists, Annie Salness and Gretha Lindwood. We're hoping for a good turnout in spite of predicted rain.

I'm the featured artist in the Washington County Art Alliance blog today. Read about me here

For years in mid-October some friends and I have piled into our car and gone around town visiting as many art studios as we can cram into a day. It's a fun way to have a party, seeing lots of different art and poking into magical places where we don't ordinarily have access. Talking to artists about their process is always revealing and interesting.  

Won't you invite a friend or two to tour with you next Saturday or Sunday? I'd love to see you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Portland Open Studios Day 2

I started a new collage yesterday and as usual it took on a life of its own and went in a totally different direction than i planned. Come by today and see what happens next.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Portland Open Studios 2015

It's down to the wire for me... the Portland Open Studios Tour begins in two short days and I'm close enough to ready that if someone came to my door this afternoon I'd welcome them with open arms.  Of course, I'll welcome ALL visitors who stop by Saturday or Sunday, this weekend or next.

The walls of my studio, living room and dining room are covered with artwork and I'm ready to do some interesting demonstrations of some of the processes I use in creating my collages. I'll show a couple of ways I paint papers, work on several collages, talk about the rabbit trails I followed to get to this point in my artistic life, and be ready to shoot the breeze about whatever questions you might have.  Do stop by between 10 and 5 any of the 4 days that my home and studio will be open. There's lots of art to admire and buy and I have some nice blank cards available, too.

This year's tour guides make it easy to navigate your way from one studio to the next, and in Cedar Mill where I live there are 6 artists whose interesting art is on view.

The printed tour guide is a spiral bound book featuring all the artists whose studios are open this year, grouped by community. I'm in Community 4, page 33. The only ways you will know how to find the studios is to buy a guide book or the phone app (see links below). The guide book is available at New Seasons, The Muse Art and Design, I've Been Framed, Collage, or Tickets West. I have a couple of copies I can sell early birds. They're $15 and serve as admission to all the studios.


Phone apps are available for IOS and Android. 

The $4.99 iPhone app is available here.
The free iPhone app is available here:  
The $4.99 Android app is available here:
The free Android app is available here:

iPhone Screenshot 2

The phone apps have red pin drops showing the location of the studios; the blue pins are local eateries who paid for the pin drop. 
See you on the weekend. 

Jo Reimer

11990 NW Maple Hill Lane, Portland, OR 97229 
Highway 26 west to Murray Blvd. 
Right on NW Cornell Rd
Left onto NW 119th Ave.
Left onto NW Maple Hill Lane
Second house on left. 

Or from downtown Portland take Lovejoy and Cornell up and over the west hills. Right onto NW 119th. Left onto NW Maple Hill Lane.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I'm a bit of a voyeur... in a good way. I love seeing people in their own element, especially artists in their studios. So when Portland artists banded together 17 years ago I jumped at the chance to visit other artists' studios to see where they work and learn how they do what they do.  Portland Open Studios is an annual event that takes place the second and third weekend every fall. This year there are 105 studios open to the public and you can visit every one of them if you have the stamina. 

I usually tour with two or three other women. We buy a guidebook or a phone app which describes each artist's work, complete with pictures, and has maps to get us there.  We choose 12-20 studios we want to see and often see them all in a single, very full day.  We find it's easiest to tour by area to avoid backtracking. Printed guide books are available at New Seasons, Muse Art & Design, or from individual artists. Both the free phone app and the $4.99 app have GPS coordinates to help you plan your route. (The apps haven't been released yet. Don't make a mistake and buy last years app.) 

We usually start at a studio in our neighborhood, often that of a friend, and branch out from there. Bright yellow signs with arrows are placed at intersections pointing you to the closest studio. Park, leave your shoes at the front door if that's requested, and walk right in. It will be clear where to go. Poke around, ask questions, watch the artist at work, leave your contact information if you want notification of his/her future events, and move on the the next studio. Many of the studios are in the artist's home but some are in commercial spaces, all interesting, all worth seeing.

Each tour artist sells their work so if you see something that fits in your home or place of work buy it directly from the source. I've purchased some of my favorite pieces this way, complete with the story about how and why it was created. Some artists have greeting cards, calendars, or books for sale. Art makes a grand gift for a loved one.

Don't count on finding work that's ready to hang, not when you're buying directly from the maker. You can take the work to a professional framer and have it framed the way you want it done, saving money and ensuring that you get frames that go well in your home. This year I'm making an effort to have most of my work ready to hang, but don't count on it. I'd rather make art than prepare it to hang.
I'm also participating in the Washington County Open Studios Tour which coincides with the Portland Tour, the third weekend of October. These are artists who live farther away from Portland and include artists in Cedar Mill, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Banks, Sherwood, Tigard, North Plains. Guidebooks are available at Art on Broadway, Village Gallery, and from individual artists. There is no cost for this tour guide. Start touring at my house and get a guidebook from me. There are two other artists in Cedar Mill who are participating in both tours, Annie Salness and Gretha Lindwood. Click on their names to see their amazing artwork.

Which Way Up  was chosen as cover art for the Washington County Studio Tour Guidebook.

So, how and why am I a participant in the tours this year?  It's all because friends egged me on with assurances that people would be delighted to see my studio and learn something useful from me. So I decided that there's no better time than now.  Participating isn't automatic; these are juried for admission so I feel especially honored to be part of both tours. So last spring I filled out a form, send images of recent work, crossed my fingers and said a prayer and waited to find out if I made the cut... and I did.. and the work began. 

Putting on the tour is a cooperative event with each artist paying a fee to cover publicity, printing the guides and designing the apps and signage, as well as putting in volunteer hours to see that the behind the scenes work is done.  All this on top of continuing making art. This year my extra hours were spent working in the Portland Open Studios booth at Art in the Pearl and helping with the beta testing of the iPhone app.

Click these links to learn more:
Portland Open Studios October 10-11, 17-18.        10am-5pm.
Washington County Open Studios October 17-18.   11am-5pm

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Collage Without Wrinkles

Collage without wrinkles

Jo Reimer, collage

One of my main problems is wrinkles. Wrinkles in the papers I use in collage, that is.

Moisture in the glue soaks into wet paper as I work causing the paper fibers to relax and form permanent wrinkles in the direction of the grain. I prefer a smooth surface. The solution isn’t necessarily to change the adhesive. I needed to learn to work with the natural characteristics of the paper and my preferred adhesive. Here’s what I’ve discovered about avoiding wrinkles.

Wrinkles happen when I use a wet adhesive to apply paper to a dry surface. There are several solutions but mainly the aim is to equalize the two surfaces in some way before sticking them together with just the right amount of adhesive. These are some clues to best practices. I don’t use them all at the same time.

  •  Mist the paper with water. Give it time to curl up and then relax. When it relaxes apply the glue.  For thin paper, apply the glue to the substrate, not the paper.
  • Wait a couple of minutes after applying glue to allow the paper to relax and absorb moisture before placing it on the substrate.
  • Use only as much glue as necessary. Too much glue will dry unevenly under the paper and create bumps and ridges.
  • Spray collage papers with an acrylic sealer on both sides and let it dry. Proceed to apply adhesive and build your collage.
  • Apply a thin coat of polymer medium to both sides of the paper. Dry thoroughly. Store between sheets of wax paper or plastic. Use a tacking iron to fuse the papers to the substrate. (Jonathan Talbot method)
  • There’s less wrinkling when the grain of the paper and the grain of the receiving surface line up.
  • When using acrylic medium glue the paper to the substrate and let it dry before coating the top with more acrylic. This allows the paper to relax and pull back into shape.
  • 3M Spray Mount won’t cause paper to curl and wrinkle but you have only one shot at getting the paper in the right place on your collage, plus there’s the whole fume and over-spray issue. I use a big plastic bin in which I place the paper face down on an opened magazine. Spray and quickly close the lid. Wait a minute and lift out the paper and apply to your substrate.


·         Work on top of kitchen parchment paper. Glue won’t stick to it. Or use old magazines as your working surface, discarding wet pages as you work.

·         Apply the glue with a palette knife or medium-soft paintbrush working from the center out to the edges. Place the element where you want it. Gently squeegee from the center to the outer edges using an old credit card or something similar and wipe off any adhesive that is squeezed out from under the paper. Let it dry thoroughly before adding a coat of matte medium on top of the composition. Dry again. Seal with a spray sealer. (I’ve ruined work by using a brush-on sealer without first applying a top coat of acrylic medium.)

·         Don’t hurry the process.

Tools and Adhesives:
  • My favorite spreader is the large plastic “Scotty” painting knife by Richeson.  Buy at least six. 
  • 1 1/2” Purdy nylon paint brush for spreading glue.
  • Matte Medium from Golden or Liquitex  
    Polymer medium from Golden
  • YES! Paste, mixed 1:5 with acrylic glazing medium (thanks Crystal Neubauer)
  • Matte Medium mixed 1:1 with Elmer’s white glue plus a few drops of Dawn detergent. This detergent breaks down the clay coating of magazine papers, reducing wrinkling.
  • Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating


Johnathan Talbot: Collage, A New Approach

Crystal Neubauer: The Art of Expressive Collage

Monday, August 10, 2015

Art in Interiors

I love seeing my work hanging in a patron's home. 

Prairie Grass Oklahoma found a home... in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in the home of my sorority sister, Deborah Strickland. Doesn't it look great here in her sunroom?

If you own one of my paintings please send me an image file showing where it hangs in your home, with permission to post the photo here on One A Day.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Somewhere Over Colorado

Somewhere Over Colorado. 16 x 16".  Mixed Media.
by Jo Reimer

Here's an addition to my MAPS series. Watercolor over a  map of  Colorado.  

I love sitting at the window whenever I fly home to Arkansas via Dallas because the land below is so interesting. As one crosses the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains  farmlands appear, dotted with thousands of irrigation crop circles. Some farms have many of these circle irrigation rigs and where the land is flat whole circles of irrigated land is painted onto the landscape. But in places only a portion of the circle is watered because of land features and farm holding borders. Here's a link to a photograph of these amazing circles.

It's sure interesting, and I've drawn them many times but this is the first time I've ventured to paint the idea of land and crops and boundaries. Of course this isn't exactly what I saw; it's a painting of the idea of circles irrigation and how it changes the land. 

The left portion of the painting is watercolor paper and I covered the map area with pastel ground so it will accept the watercolor better. The lines are drawn with sumi ink and watercolor pencil and then misted with water to blur the boundaries, then sealed with acrylic medium and wax.

Thanks to Jill Berry for the technique which she calls "Geo Papers". Jill has written a couple of books about using maps for making art. Visit her website by clicking here:

Monday, August 03, 2015


After several weeks away from my studio I'm back at work on some new collages and paintings in preparation for the Portland Open Studios Tour and the Washington County Studio Tour in October. While the tour is meant to be educational in nature I want to have lots of new work on my walls.

It's been hotter and drier here in Portland than I can remember in my 50-plus years as an Oregon resident. Not only is the grass brown but shrubs and trees are dying from the prolonged abnormal temperatures. Perhaps longing for rain is what drove me to think about rainforests and plentiful water, orange ponchos, and trudging along forest trails.

Here's RainForest, collage on board, 12x12".

Portland Open Studios Tour;  October 10, 11, 17, 18, 2015.
Washington Country Studio Tour: October 17 and 18, 2015.
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