Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Music Today

I just heard the most beautiful rendition on YouTube, thanks to Nina Bagly of Ornamental. Have a listen; I hope that Allen Tibbet's marvelous voice lights your world today.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sharpening the focus

Mixed Bouquet in Blue Vase
4 1/2" x 6 1/2" (11.5cm x 16.6cm)
acrylic on board
$30 plus $4.95 shipping and handling in the US
E-mail me for International shipping rates or other inquiries.

I'm going through a period of self-questioning, trying to figure out how to bring a sharper focus to my art-making, though I admit that this is an on-going process for me. I like it all. When I worked in fiberart I wanted to do it all... embroidery, applique, quilting, surface design, dyeing, sewing, and all the little sub-groups of each of those topics. I could never settle on one thing and now that I'm making 2-dimensional art it's still the same.

At my Open Studio last fall there was a recurring comment from visitors who noted that I worked both realistically and abstractly, painted still life and landscape, used oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastels, collage, in all sizes and color palettes. I do have a recognizeable style but produce the unexpected rather than a series of similar work. I'm interested in everything and that's the problem... I need to focus my attention and dig deeper.

Each of us has a measured lifespan and right now I'm so aware that my productive years may be drawing to a close. I've lived 7 decades and while I'm not planning to jump off a cliff anytime soon I feel my body slowing down and my production waning.

I want my life to count, not just today but for eternity. I want what I do to matter, to my family, to my friends, and to God. I think that I've been given opportunity after opportunity to learn skills, to develop an artistic eye, to develop wisdom, to grow spiritually, to be prepared to do work that matters, to finally focus instead of hunting art with a scattergun.

The plan is to concentrate on my Sermon Notes. I've done 46 Notes and I'm aiming for 60, at least. I want to publish them as a book, so I need an agent and a publisher since I don't want to tackle the non-art part of self-publishing and marketing when my talents lie in the studio. Getting all this accomplished takes time and concentration, so for the next few months I will put away the oils and most of the acrylic and watercolor paints, the easel and the fabric and thread, and work on the Notes. Years ago my friend Linda showed me how to set up stations in my studio, so I plan to clear surfaces and set up some more clearly defined stations, one for working on Notes, a place where everything I need is at arm's reach and when I have even a few minutes all I have to do to get something more done is to sit down and do it. There's my reading corner with my Bible and magazines and Morning Pages journal and new books. There's the big work table in the middle of the room where I can spread out when I need more space. And there'll be empty space with a bouquet of flowers off to the side. Lovely.

I'll continue to travel with my little sketchbook and paintbox and draw my world, and I'll continue working in my art and writing journals... all that is related and keeps my skills exercised. My friend Sandy talked recently about making her studio into a sanctuary, a place that called forth her creative spirit when she entered the room. I'd like to do that; aim for minimalism, spareness, and beauty.

We were in Sunriver last weekend and I thought that when I got home I could jump right into my new plan but of course that didn't work because my studio is a mess and it will take time to get myself ready to work. And then there's the rest of my life. I'd love to say that I work at art full time but I don't and never will. I'm first of all a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend. All of that takes time and energy. I figure that by the middle of September I'll have the studio rearranged and my new schedule set. And I'll be tweaking it a bit as I go. After all, focusing is a new thing for me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mixed Bouquet with Yellow on Green
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.8cm)
acrylic on paper
$40 plus $4.95 shipping and handling in the US
E-mail me for International shipping rates or other inquiries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Selling my babies

Nah, I'm keeping my babies, the real ones who are now in their 4o's, but that's how I think of my artwork, born of the daily working of my brush and pen and hands. These artwork babies are piling up in my studio and I need to let them go. So I've decided to start posting one a day here on my blog in addition to the other artworks and topics I write about.

Yellow Pear on Blue would look great in someone's kitchen. The painted image is 6" x 7" and matted ready to put into an 11x14" frame.

Yellow Pear on Blue
6" x 7" (15.3cm x 17.8cm)
Acrylic on Watercolor
$40 plus $4.95 shipping and handling in the US
E-mail me for International shipping rates or other inquiries.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Buried Treasure- Getting Serious About Collage

Today is Buried Treasure Day, when Seth, at The Altered Page asked friends to post their own personal favorite blog posting. My favorite isn't a post on my own blog but rather it's an article I wrote 9 years ago for an online 'zine called The Muse with a short intro by the editor. Here it is:

Getting Serious About CollageBy Jo ReimerMay 2000

Following is an artistically inspirational article written by Jo Reimer. It is accompanied by several of her previously unpublished collages both here and in the gallery. When I asked Jo about them she said that they were "practice" collages and she was very off-hand about them. Perhaps greatness doesn't always recognize itself.

Question: I've been working on my very first collage and I have questions about where to go from here. What does one mount to paper? How do I get that soft hazy look? How can I make the elements look like they belong together, like there's a connection?
Answer: Just keep working. Work some more. Work some more. Work at it every day, if you can, and if you can't do that at least make time to approach your art work 2 or 3 times a week. Consider nothing as precious. Few pieces of paper are precious. Adhesives and paint can be replaced; there's more where that came from, so use it, whatever it is. When you look at something you've done and are scared to take the next step, take it anyway.
I've just started drawing and my teacher told me to feel good about every bad drawing I make because I'm that much closer to drawing the way I'm intended to draw. He said we each have thousands of bad drawings in us blocking the way for the good work to get out, so it's really important to do lots of ugly work and get it out of my system. I believe that. I've done some hideous work, but once in a while something good squeaks its way to the surface to surprise me and encourage me that this is the right road to travel.
Some of the questions that beginners ask has to do with composition which we learn by doing and by studying what others have done. Good collages usually are made up of elements which relate to each other in some way. They may be related in color, theme, imagery. They may be formally composed, i.e. done strictly with attention to design elements of line, form, shape, and so on,or they may be narrative, (tell a story).
Have you taken a Basic Design course? Enroll in Basic Design at a university or at an art center and tell the instructor that your primary interest is collage. A collage workshop might be the way to go for someone who's experienced in other kinds of art. Check with local schools, art supply stores, art guilds, or look for collage courses at Arts and Crafts schools such as Penland, Haystack, or Arrowmont. You'll find workshop information in art magazines such as American Artist, Fiberarts, Watercolorist. Learning good composition comes both from working and from careful observation. Get an idea of what's being done by attending exhibitions at museums and galleries. Read books about collage.
As you look and read ask yourself questions about the work you're seeing: What's the background? How is it prepared? What is applied to this surface? Where does the color come from? What is the artist conveying? Is there a story or is it formal design? Why is some work in the middle of the page while in other pieces the artist worked out to the edges? What is the compositional structure? Do I like this work and why or why not?
Start making what I call Collage-A-Day. Using a journal or cardstock cut to 5 ½ X 8 ½ make one collage every day. Work fast, spending no more than 15 minutes on each collage. Use no more than 5 elements. Look and consider before you glue everything down, but don't agonize over it. You'll just naturally get better as you become more experienced. Remember that bad art I told you to get out of your system! Set up a small space where you can do this. You'll need scissors, glue, your substrate (journal or cardstock) and scraps of paper which could include junk mail, magazine pages, photos, decorative papers, pattern tissue, wrapping papers, street papers. That's all you really need.Start collecting collage elements. A collage artist by necessity becomes a collector of ephemera. While you might start with junk mail you'll learn to ransack magazines for appealing images and blocks of color and text. Eventually you'll want to add a wide variety of quality papers and you may want to paint or dye your papers, or even create handmade paper to use in your work.And you'll need to go through the glue selection process. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of adhesives available to use. One good basic glue mix is 1 part white glue plus 1 part acrylic matte medium, applied with a brush. Each artist will tell you something different, and you'll learn that you have your preferences for different purposes. You may want to use UHU glue sticks for your Collage-A-Day work.
Supports-substrates-backings can vary, also. Heavy cardstock works, as do other heavy papers. 140# to 300# watercolor paper is great for special work. Cardboard is stiff enough but has so much acid in it that it's not recommended for work you want to give or sell.Now, go to work. Work some more. Work some more. Jump in and do it. Enjoy the process of working and have a good time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Door Collage

My art group met today to work on collages with doors as the subject... sort of like Roben Marie's Happy Gam Road collages. Here's mine from today which uses lots of my painted papers, my father's photo, and a photo of a door in France.

These next two were done earlier in the summer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I'm enrolled in an online class called Pure Experimentation where the curriculum is all about stenciling using spray paint, spray ink, brushes and sponges to create visual journal pages. I already use alphabet stencils to create my Sermon Notes series but this will add another dimension to those and other works of art.
The class was designed by Mary Ann Moss, Dispatch from LA, and is excellent, with PDF lessons complete with photos and dozens of short videos in which MA demonstrates her skills with her favorite art tools. Many everyday items can be used as stencils: lace, plastic doilies and placemats, nursery flats, sequin waste (love those holes). And now we're transforming clip art and photos into stencils using the computer, exacto knives, and stencil burners. Over the last week I've set up 2 different spray booths: one is set up in the garage and is made from an upside down card table, an old sheet, and a trash can. (This is what I use on rainy days.) and the other is a simple setup on my studio balcony where I draped a canvas drop cloth over the table and pinned the outer edges to the railing so I don't inadvertently paint the side of the house.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Barron Storey

Life After Black: The Visual Journals of Barron Storey, an exhibit of his journals is currently on view at the Museum of American Illustration in NYC, through the end of July. How I wish I could see these books in person; I'm amazed that they are displayed in such a way as to allow viewers to actually browse through them! I was in the right place at the right time to buy one of the 1000 copies of Barron Storey: The Marat/Sade Journals... in 1993 when it was first published, and I've spent hours pouring over his intricate drawings and varied handwritten text. In the video above you can get an idea about what one person can do with a blank book when he puts his mind to it. If you're interested in knowing more do a search on his name.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Limited Palette

Paula asked which colors I chose for my limited palette. This one is modeled after one of Cathy Johnson's, including the altered paintbox itself which is a Koi painbox. I removed the original contents, leaving only the little waterbrush, and added full and half pans into which I squeezed Transparent Yellow, Quin. Red, Winsor Blue, Paynes Gray, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. There are 2 watercolor brushes, a #1 liner and a 1/4" flat with sharpened ends for scratching back, plus a sponge, pencil and sharpener, and molded eraser. You can see by my dirty palette that I reused dried puddles and I don't often clean my colors, preferring to dip into whatever is there that's useable.
Part of the looseness is due to the finish on the moleskine pages. Mine is the sketchbook with the slightly yellow and stiff pages, and unless I wipe the page down with a moist towel to remove the sizing the pages slightly repel water. I like the look but watercolor purists rail against the paper and use other books. I chose moleskine because of the overall quality of the book. It stands up to just about any abuse and since I carry this book in my purse everywhere I go I need the strong structure.
It doesn't matter which colors you choose for your limited palette as long as you've experimented with them enough to know that you can mix satisfactory colors... good greens, bright purples and magentas, and orange. If the yellow, red, and blue you already own as long as they mix to form beautiful secondary and tertiary colors. And of course, be creative with color, using any color to represent any object, as long as the value is right. I could make my daytime sky pink and my water purple, as long as the pink is light and the purple is dark.
And BTW, the link to Cathy Johnson is to her Art Tips page where there is scads of information on how to paint with watercolor. She's the master!
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