Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Moving On

We are in the midst of downsizing, moving from our three story home to a smaller place on one level. Creativity has taken a back seat, in fact, it's so far from my consciousness that I don't know when I can get back to painting. I've made some tough decisions art-wise, knowing that I can't store all the supplies in hopes that someday I'll switch gears. Someday is NOW.

Instead of a big studio with two storage closets and a basement for backup I'm taking over the master bedroom as well as a small area in the garage where I will paint. For the foreseeable future I'll stick to collage, sketching with watercolor and ink, and painting with acrylics. All else gets sold or passed on. I've even cut way way down on sewing and am selling all my silk, wool, and cottons with the exception of half a dozen lengths for specific projects. I'm selling my patterns, too, because thanks to Bright Line Eating I've lost nearly 50 pounds and nothing fits. It's a good thing, a very good decision.

If you live anywhere near Cedar Mill/Beaverton, Oregon and like bargain-hunting put my Estate Sale on your calendar.  September 24 and 25, Saturday from 11-4 and Sunday, 12-4 at 11990 NW Maple Hill Lane, Portland, OR 97229.

I'll get back to posting to my blog as soon as I can. Have patience, dear readers, and stop hoarding art supplies!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff

One A Day collage: "Phone 3211"  9x12 sketch

Last month I taught a class called The Creative Process and during that class I stressed the value of a daily practice. That's why I started this blog, One A Day, about five years ago. I committed to make a small collage every day as a way of entering the studio, a warm-up practice. And I did just that for a long time but then gradually blogging daily crept off my radar until lately I've been mostly absent from this blog.

It isn't intentional. I haven't given up making things. It's just that my interest shifted and writing didn't serve me as well.  I've been giving that some thought, and I'm anxious to hold myself accountable to my loyal readers, so here I am again, telling you that I intend to be more regular with my online musings.


One thing I talked about with my students was the value of setting up some sort of "entering the studio" practice. It could be anything they choose to do that fits easily into their life: sketching, sorting paper, moving paint on paper, small collages, journaling.  The purpose is to get the creative juices flowing. No pianist enters the concert hall without warming up. No pitcher steps onto the mound without throwing lots of balls on the sidelines. I can't expect to make a good drawing without first making some marks on paper to limber up my fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder and get my right brain involved in making stuff.

Since I work primarily in collage it makes sense to work with my materials and tools a bit before I tackle the serious work. I believe that any artist worth the name will keep some sort of sketchbook so that's what I do. I have lots of sketchbooks, some for drawing, some for journaling about what goes on in my studio, but for my collage warmups I work in one primary sketchbook, a 9x12 Canson XL Mix Media spiral bound book. It accepts acrylic, watercolor, glue, and ink without buckling and it's not expensive so I'm not scared of making ugly mistakes. Collage is forgiving. If the work is really ugly I simply gesso over it or add another layer of paper and no one's the wiser.

I'll follow the example of one of my teachers, Joan Schulz, who dedicates a small area of her studio to her first-thing collage making, small postcards.  In my First-Thing area is my sketchbook, a glue stick, a small box of colorful paper bits, and a pair of scissors.  I set my timer for 15 minutes and get to work.

What's your warm-up practice? How do its benefits show up in your work? I've love to have you tell other readers what you do to get going when you enter your studio. Simply click on Comment below and share your experience, please.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Urban Sunset

Jo Reimer.  Urban Sunset.  24x30".  Collage

It's not at all obvious but this piece started out with an under-painting of orange, magenta and yellow and somewhere along the way all the yellow was covered up except for that tiny bit in the lower right corner. That yellow presented quite a struggle to me because the papers I covered up were quite beautiful. Precious, even. The last of the lot.  Gone.

When a paper or a painting or even a passage is considered to be too precious to cover over it can become a stumbling block to creativity. It certainly was for me, and for the longest time I couldn't move on. The original direction of the colors in this piece was simply too close, too boring, too analagous.  What did the work need, I asked myself.  Gray maybe. A city is mostly concrete, after all.  So out came the collection of gray paper to cover those four corners. And there it lay for a few days while I gathered the courage to cover up all that lovely yellow. 

The lines of magenta on top of the brightest orange were done with a stencil which I took with me the day I painted at the Glencoe HS Art Week  last month.  I wanted to repeat the shapes in the stencil so I held it in place on top of some of the gray area and dabbed on some white paint and then added shadow, working with pencil and thinned down paint until I had it just right. 

The figures in the cityscape are all me. Shadow photographs printed onto painted papers and added as collage elements.

Urban Sunset is on view in the current show at Oregon Society of Artists.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fantasy Flowers

Jo Reimer: Fantasy Flowers  14x11" acrylic, watercolor, ink, paper
Sometimes a piece comes out of left field and insists upon being present within my body of work. This started one morning last year as I was dinking around with paint and a brush, just spreading color around and seeing where the wet paint would go. It got ugly fast so I put it away thinking I still had one side of the paper I could work on.  

Months later I spied it among the "works in process" drawer and decided to play on it with some ink. Hours and days later this is what emerged. I could keep working but I won't. It delights me just as is. The only bit of collage is the big yellow rose that satisfied the need for a place to rest my eyes.

Monday, March 07, 2016

More Little Jo Stories

Little Jo Rides Again...

Little Jo and Her Dolly

You've seen Little Jo before. I used her photos several years ago when I first stated making a collage a day and I ran across some of her prints while preparing for Collage BootCamp which will be this coming Saturday, March 12.  (There are still a few spaces, if you can join us. Click here for more information.)

One doesn't usually find much use for childhood photos, but I'm having such fun with mine. These Little Jo photos are of me at 2-4 years of age, taken by my dad who loved me with his camera, for which I'm grateful.

Now I'm at it again. I won two canvases for the Village Gallery of Arts May show, Art Adoption, and bought two more and am running with the Little Jo theme. 

Little Jo and Her New Trike

Two of the collage processes I teach in my one-day collage class, BootCamp, are used in all four collage paintings which are made on the cradled canvas. The background was built up first, using the inside of security envelopes. I didn't really think much about what I was doing once I chose and trimmed the papers to size.

After the background dried the front and sides got an isolation coat and then I started playing with scraps of brightly colored papers that contrast strongly against the gray ground. 

Little Jo and Jimbo

I call this type of composition, Layer Cake. It's one I teach in BootCamp, where you make a cattywampus paper layer cake. Little Jo was added here and there and then I spent a satisfying evening doing lots of line-work.  I don't think they're quite done but that's okay because they'll hang around the studio for two months before I have to send them out into the world and I'm sure I'll figure out something else to do to them.

Little Jo Joins the Party

I'll remind you about the VGA show later on in April. There will be 180 6x6" artworks on canvas available at bargain basement prices of $25-$50. It's a benefit for the gallery. Long lines form at the door the morning of May 3 at 10am so come early.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jo Reimer's Collage Adventures, classes at Village Gallery

Baby Brother ***


I'm looking forward to upcoming classes at the Village Gallery in Cedar Mill. One-day classes/workdays seem to work out best for most busy people, as do weekends.  Each Saturday class runs from 9:30-3:00 and is $90. To sign up for classes please stop by the gallery which is at the east end of the library building in Cedar Mill, or download a registration form HERE. The classroom is small and classes are limited to 10 students.

Saturday March 12
.... an introductory workshop for beginners to the art of collage.  You’ll learn about supports, papers, adhesives, tools, and simple composition. There will be several demonstrations of the various techniques throughout the day, and you’ll have time to make several experimental collage paintings in your sketchbook.  Classes will be small so there’s plenty of time for one on one attention. 

 Saturday, April 16

Beginning and advanced artists alike will benefit from this hands-on class filled with discussions and demonstrations as we explore basic composition for collage. You’ll receive a prototype of my patent-pending Design Wheel and learn about the elements and principles of design and how to make them work for you as you build interesting collages. We’ll develop a collection of Design Templates and experiment with working with Layers. The skills you learn are applicable both to collage and to painting.


Saturday, April 23
Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty as we dig into creating unique collage papers.  We’ll learn simple printmaking using the Gelli-Plate; we’ll make Magic Paper; create unusual stamps, work with stencils, and more. Prepare for a hard day of fun and take away lots of beautiful papers and collage sketches in your studio journal, prototypes for future collages or paintings.

Baby Brother is a sketch I did as a demo for a BootCamp. I started by building a neutral background, then stacking rectangles, sort of like making a layer cake, on which I added a favorite image of myself as a snotty little 3 year old holding my competition, a new baby brother.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Ending the Day with a Grateful Heart

grateful, thankful, thanks, thank you, 
thank God, appreciate, praise, much obliged, blessed, 
merci, gracias, merci beaucoup.

What's the origin of The Gratitude Journal? An interview on Oprah maybe, but the origin isn't as important as what you and I will do with the idea. Today, January 1, 2016, is a perfect time to commence keeping a gratitude journal.

My plan is to write a list of 5 things for which I'm grateful in a special journal at the end of each day. 

"Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one's voice. Joseph B. Wirthlin

Cards from my Anti-Depression Box
Greeting Card Gratitude Journal
Various ideas have gelled into my plan for the journal itself. Many people use a desk calendar but I'm going to use old greeting cards that I've received and saved for years. I jokingly call my card collection "my anti-depression box", reading them again whenever I feel a bit blue and am in need of comfort. There are 273 cards in my box, not counting Christmas cards. And now I have an even better way to give them new life... as the pages of a colorful, meaningful journal. 

There's plenty of white space on most of the cards where I can add my daily gratitudes, and I can glue a piece of paper into those with no writing space at all.  Each card has space for 2 to 5 lists of my 5 dailies, and the huge bonus is that it will be like having conversations with the family, friends and students who once sent these dear cards. 

I'll include new cards as they arrive, and when the completed cards reach a certain thickness I'll bind the cards chronologically into a book, probably with a coil binding or maybe just a hole punched in the corner, held together with a book ring.

"Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe." Wayne Dyer

Postcards as Gratitude Journal

Postcards could be bound into a journal. I have lots of blank postcards, some handmade, some from travels, some purchased and never used. I was thinking of tossing them because I rarely send postcards (duh! that's why I have so many in that drawer) but why not make them into a gratitude journal?

"Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude."  Nick Vujicic

Index Cards as Gratitude Journal

Buy a stack of index cards, make a simple or on one side and write your list of gratitudes on the reverse.  

"When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in." Kristin Armstrong.

Rolodex as Gratitude Journal

Use your old Rolodex, that one you no longer use because your contacts are on your phone now, or buy a used one at a thrift store. Use it the same way, art on one side, thankfulness list on the other side. 

It's amazing how viewing the world with gratitude lifts one's spirits.

But really, dear reader, the structure of the journal doesn't matter as much as ending the day with a grateful heart.
  1. My bird wind chime reminds me to be thankful that I had a loving mother who once owned it. 
  2. I'm glad I hung onto all those greeting cards and for those who sent them.
  3. Thanks for the idea of setting Bright Lines like my new one: Eat no sugar, ever.
  4. I'm grateful that I can use the Blogger platform free where I can post my ramblings.
  5. I'm thankful for all the people who read my blog.   Jo Reimer, 1/1/16
If you want to send me a card:   Jo Reimer, PO Box 91340, Portland, OR 97291.

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.

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