Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Updating Flickr

Detail of Plaid Quilt

I haven't spent much time on art making over the last week or so, but I'll soon get back to it. I'm plugging through some of my To Do list and today worked at uploading photos of my daily collages to my Flickr account. You can go here to see my Daily Collage set and then explore more of my photos on Flickr.

I'm getting my sketchbook ready to mail to the ArtHouse in Brooklyn, NY, though with their deep snow I'm not so sure that even the postman can get out to deliver mail. Maybe I'll wait a few days and send it Priority.

Here are a few blog posts that I'm enjoying:
Marge Malwitz quilt
Zen Habits
Lisa Call
Donna Zagotta
Wen Redmond fabric collage technique

Friday, December 17, 2010

House in the Forest

House in the Forest with Gecko
Daily Collage

I thought I was done with this collage until I scanned it and realized that it needed some lines to bring focus. What a difference a few lines can make. I didn't even realize that I had a house in this collage until I scanned it and saw that the gecko was perched on a house shaped paper scrap.

Making this collage was an exercise in giving up "precious". See that bit of paper on the right side and across the bottom? That was a bit torn from a sheet of stencils I made last summer. I kept passing it up because it was too precious to use in whatever I was working on at the time. Finally today I tossed precious to the wind. I tore the sheet in half, then in half again, then simply tore it into pieces so it was no longer precious. Then came the idea of making a collage using black, green, and white. Funny how things work out when you let go and use whatever supplies you have.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

House Collage

House with Red Flower

As I sat down to make a collage this afternoon my eye landed on scraps of my gift wrapping paper so I decided to start with a cutout of the poinsettia from the paper. The central part of the house is from a photo I took at the Taos Pueblo and I kept building from there, thinking about house, roof, openings and balance. It's all exaggerated as far as scale and balance and color, but I think it works.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Art With Heart and Lots of Helping Hands

9x12 collage
copyright Jo Reimer

I'm guessing that many of you are doing a lot for one another during this season of giving, doing for others as you'd like them to do for you.

One of my opportunities to give has been in aid of a young woman who suffered a life -changing accident in September and is now paralyzed from the shoulders down. Cherie is at a rehab facility learning to live in a new way and her brother and sister have given up their jobs to move in and help her.

Her lifelong friend, my online art buddy, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson, has curated a gorgeous book, full of images contributed by many artists, (including the above image) which is for sale on Blurb, with all profits from the sale of the book going to benefit Cherie's rehabilitation. Art With Heart is available to view and buy at Blurb. What a wonderful gift to give to an art lover at Christmas, or any time of year.

 Another project I've been working on is knitting hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves for homeless kids in our local school... around 1600 of them.  Yarn shops have donated thousands of dollars worth of yarn and needles so that we can make beautiful items of exceptional quality to warm the hearts of these kids. Read about it at YarnFest here

And still another group of friends gather to make quilts to give to kids at a summer camp for foster kids. And I've heard of a group of local fiber artists who give fabric and teach inmates to quilt at a local women's correctional institute.

Don't you just love it when people give from their hearts and use their skills to make life just a little better for others? What are you doing to help others?
Giving a little time to a group effort is magnified in untold ways.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


While looking through my editing tools at Blogger today I found several posts that I never did get published. I'll re-read them to see if they're still worth posting. This one is the first....

5x7 Daily Collage

Achieving the perfect balance of elements can be difficult in a collage but maybe easier than in painting because you can move the bits of paper around until it's right, while with painting it's place a stroke, stand back, wipe, do it over. Here I worked to balance several blocks of color as well as the bits and pieces that make up this little collage.

Knowing when something is balanced comes with experience... simply making lots of decisions about what looks best, doing miles of work. Sometimes it comes naturally but most of the time it simply takes practice in order to train your eye.

Remember to back up and squint.

Growing up with a mother who liked symmetrical balance was a bit tough. She had 3 pieces of  wine colored McCoy pottery on the fireplace mantle, one large bowl and two matching vases, so of course the bowl was in the middle and the vases were one on each side. If I'd had my way I'd have used the two vases together with the bowl placed in just the right place to achieve balance. And no, my mantle isn't symmetrically balanced.

What's asymmetric balance? Picture two kids on a seesaw. One child weighs 15 pounds more than the other so she schooches closer to the center so both children are balanced on the board and can work the seesaw. It's like that in art.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mattie and the Girls

Mattie and the Girls
5x7 Daily Collage

My paternal grandmother, Mattie, is the woman upper left in this photo from the 1920s.  Dressed as they are one would think they've been been to choir practice but that roundish thing one woman is holding looks suspiciously like a football... or maybe it's a watermelon.  Aren't you glad we don't dress like that anymore?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Starting a Series

5x7 daily collage

Maudeline Patterson was my home economics teacher in middle school and high school. She recognized my creative abilities early on and helped me learn whatever I needed, especially in sewing class. Miss Patterson was no fashion plate but she was interested in helping her students realize their fashion dreams. The only comment I remember disagreeing with her about was... "Martha, chartruese green and navy simply don't go together".


With my daily collages I'm turning toward home and homemaking as a series theme, at least for awhile. Although many artists have used the house shape in their art I will try not to look at too many pieces by others and simply see what I can do with a square or rectangle and a triangle. Maybe I can burn through my scrap paper backlog.

I've come to believe that working in series is the way to go. It narrows my focus and keeps me from jumping around so much. I have several series going and I jump around from one to another... home, trees, the garden, spiritual relationships and family are currents interests. 


It's hard for me to focus on just one theme.  One day I feel like doing something about "home" and the very next day I'm ready to draw some trees.  I know, they are all interrelated. And the truth of it is that I'm free to play around with any topic/theme that strikes my fancy, but more gets done when I focus on one or two topics at a time.

My friend Jane Dunnewold addresses the topic of focus in her December 1, 2010 blog post at Existential Neighborhood.  I'm so glad I read it.

Jane reminds me that I don't have to make a decision to do anything forever. I can build paper houses for a month. The next month I can play with circles. I know that my attention wanes at around 6 months. If I take that in consideration when I set my goals I can motivate myself to keep on keeping on with promises such as "if you work on building houses for the next 4 months then you get to paint flowers."  With a single focus I can dig deeper.


LK Ludwig is posting weekly holiday prompts on her blog The Poetic Eye this month with the theme of LIGHT. I urge you to read her post.

Light of the World will be my own theme. I'm already behind because my work day is almost over and I haven't started... but my plan is to make a journal that's devoted to the topic and finish a photo journal page most days during December, using my own photographs, of course.  That's do-able. And focusing on just this one thing leaves me room to enjoy this month of light, including a few minutes for my little daily collage.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


pumpkin by Marnie Fordice

I hope you each have a wonderful, joyful, and blessed Thanksgiving Day. We each have so much to be grateful for...the love of family and friends, and the basics of life such as shelter, food, and clothing... and hope.
God bless each of you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How I Spent My Weekend

Cannon Beach Post Office

I've often stopped in local post offices and asked to have a page stamped in my sketchbook; this is the first time that I've been told that I have to buy a stamp in order to have them use the cancellation stamp! So I bought a penny stamp. I rather like the addition of the stamp so I'll probably buy one every time from here on out.

Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach, OR

Shadow walking

Kelp grows as underwater forests which are easily dislodged by storms. This kelp bundle, along with 6 others, was on the beach after last week's storm.



Today the sun disappeared and hail on the beach drove us homeward. Snow above 1000 feet.

Here's a little video of my snowy drive home. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life is Short

photo by Jo Reimer

Please visit my online friend Bren of eSynergy whose post today points to an essay by David Duchemin called Life is Short. In that moving post and the one following he says

"...life is short and no one is going to live
my life on my behalf.
And one day soon my candle will burn out;
I want it to burn hot and bright while it’s still lit.
I want it to light fires and set others ablaze.

Life is short. Live it now.
And live it with all your strength and passion now.
Don’t keep it in reserve against a day you might not have.
While the ember is still lit, fan it to flame.
Be bold about it, even if your circumstances mean
all you have is to love and laugh boldly."

Thanks, Bren, for the introduction to David's essay on living life to the fullest.  I find it so interesting how God works things together in this life and how through a connection to someone I've never met he brings the answer I was searching for. 
David also asks his readers to complete the sentence:
"Life is short and therefore I will....."
That's my journal prompt for today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


What Shall I Do
journal page
I subscribe to Lisa Call’s blog, partly because she’s a fiber artist who makes art quilts as I once did, but mostly because of how she thinks about her work and life.  In her last few posts she’s talked about accountability, goals, and structure, topics which hit home with me as I’ve been struggling for awhile with those same issues.

She quoted Jon Stewart who said “I’m a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it and feel confident enough to kind of come back to that.”

I would phrase it differently for myself: Creativity blooms within limits. Too much freedom leaves me not knowing what to do with myself, but when my days are structured I’ve given myself focused time within which I can be even more creative.

Haven’t you noticed how busy people get more done?  “If you want to get a job done give it to a busy woman”. I’ve been that busy woman who gets a lot done, but right now it’s not happening because I haven’t much structure in my life. I don’t have a paying job; I don't work to sell the art I make; I’m not involved in structured volunteerism other than marginally; I don’t answer to anyone for what I make, other than dinner every night and that’s loose, too. I’ve given up my one-time habit of setting 1- and 5-year goals and breaking them down into daily and weekly action items. And I don’t accomplish much… certainly not as much as I know I’m capable of doing or as much as I want to do.

Do any of you feel like that about your own life? Do you wish you could accomplish more? Do large swaths of time pass with nothing to show for it?   I know I'm not alone.
I thought blogging would help, that I’d feel accountable to you readers and get the work done and then write about it, but you’re all so nice that almost no one questions why I haven’t been writing. I can’t put blame on you… it’s me who’s given up doing what needs to be done. I feel lazy, in a bad way.

What would happen if I set weekly studio, art business, and personal goals?

What if I wrote them down every Sunday evening and revisited them the next week and checked off the completed items?

What if I had a section in my Planner for goals and a to-do list with a yellow highlighter that I use to mark completed items?

What if my life had structure?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Sketchbook Project – The Beginning and The End

I’m finished!  The title page is complete and the end page is done, too. I haven’t touched the cover and may not do so. It’ll take a lot of handling once it’s back at The Art House/The Brooklyn Art Library and I'm thinking that it's good as is... a simple red cover... maybe with the title stamped across the front. We'll see. And now that I see the ending page published in this post I see that I need to write something more across the top of the photos.

The Sketchbook Project 2011 will be on tour in the USA starting in March and appearing in the following places: Brooklyn, NY - Austin, TX - San Francisco, CA - Portland, ME - Atlanta, GA - Chicago, IL - Washington, DC - Winter Park, FL - Seattle, WA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Beaverton Farmer's Market

Beaverton Farmer's Market

My routine from May through October is to attend the Beaverton Farmer's Market early on Saturday morning. I buy a pastry from Grand Central Baking Co., buy a cup of coffee and find a bench next to the fountains in the park and do a bit of people watching before actually shopping.

This market is unique in that there are no crafts allowed other than those which are food related such as jams, fruit vinegars, desserts to go and gorgeous floral arrangements. The lanes are lined with around 100 kiosks selling produce, dairy, and meats/seafood direct from the grower.

I take lots of photos of people and produce and color, but at the last market day, shown above, the colors of the surrounding trees were amazing. My camera battery went out after just 2 photos so I ran home to get my dSLR and returned record the incredible color.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon

Here's the spread with a photo taken in Pendleton last May showing a wide landscape of fields and a big sky. I found just the right green washi paper to extend the grasses in the left foreground and other bits of papers to extend the fields on either side of my photo. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Central Oregon

It seems like more than 2 weeks since I last posted and I'm pushing myself to get at least one post written this weekend. This is Central Oregon, high desert country that's surrounded by mountains and topped with blue sky, a land of lakes and rivers, fields of crops, and wildlife of all kinds.  My intention for next week is to finish this Sketchbook Project.

My visits with family and old friends was SO good. While in Dallas my cousins and I went to the Dallas Aboretom and were amazed by the unique uses of squash and pumpkins in the Storybook Pumpkin Village. It was an orange colored vacation.

Everywhere I turned there was orange... trees, pumpkins, and the orange shirts of tens of thousands of Oklahoma State Cowboys. It was a blast to go back for homecoming and visit with college friends. We stayed with my friend from long ago and talked a bit of old times but mostly about who we are today.

In Arkansas we ate barbeque at my favorite place and in my home town we went to Pop's Pond and got in some target practice...

It was nice to see that I can still hit my target with my dad's old 22.
Quick sketch done at the local airport while my brother worked on his Ultralight, the one that broke a wheel off during an unscheduled landing.

And yes, I did do some sketching here and there. But I find it hard to make art when I'm with people; I need solitude to concentrate on drawing and I preferred to talk with those I love rather than mess with art making. I have plenty of time for that but never enough time for faraway family. However, I took lots of photos to remind me of happy times.
Jim entering his shed

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pondering the Possibilities

When I was a child in a small town in Arkansas my phone number was 255. That's it. Three little numbers. Then it became 3255, and eventually 501-6__-3255. Progress, I guess. Now I look for those numbers and photograph them when I find them. I also photograph other numbers that are the same as phone numbers or house numbers of the homes in which I've lived.  7770. 2420. 1073. 643. Like that. Someday I'll use them in a journal that's all about HOME.

I'll get to see my home in Arkansas next week when I visit my brother. Family no longer lives there but it's like a pilgramage for me when I return to my home town, a time for remembering the people and events that shaped my life and to give thanks to God for them.  Do you ever do that? Or is it only me because I'm so far away and returning happens infrequently.

If there are numbers on the house I'll take a picture.

We recently spent a couple of days at the beach and hit the weather just right. I set up a card table on the deck and worked in the sun on my journal.

Below is an industrial building in Portland that the owners have painted with consideration to their across the street neighbors. The colors give me ideas for a painting or a collage.

I'll be traveling for the next couple of weeks and will probably ignore blogging. If you've subscribed you'll know when I'm back. My intention as I travel is to capture lots of pictures of houses and trees because I want to focus on those subjects for awile in my journals, paintings, sketchbooks, and daily collages. Maybe telling you about it will make me accountable.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Travel Journal - October 2010


I'm building a new journal for an upcoming trip back to my old stompin' grounds. I used Teesha Moore's directions for her 16 page journal which is constructed from 2 sheets of Fabriano Artistico 140# watercolor paper, torn in thirds and sewn together. 
The size of the journal is just right for my carry-on luggage and the format allows me to work however I want, though I have no definite plans. I've created some borders on most of the pages, added a few pictures to make it personal and I'm ready to go. Once I've completed this journal I intend to make a short video of it to show you how it looks completed.
Here are a couple of the ready-to-go pages:

The yellow flap folds back to give me blue pages to work on. I'll probably add more colors to this spread before I leave.

I've added pictures of my grandkids in the book so I can show off to family and friends along the way. This is Amy when she was 6 or 7, half her liftime ago.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Mountains

Mt. Hood
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolor crayons.

Mt. Hood is only 50 miles east of Portland and lures many Oregonians to its beautiful slopes for skiing, hiking, fishing and many other sports, both summer and winter. Part of the Cascade Range of volcanic mountains, it often appears to float above the city due to atmospheric conditions.  At 11,230' its distinctive volcanic shape is hard to miss.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Phone Book as Art Supply

The end of the phone book is near. Both AT&T and Verizon have initiated plans to stop delivering the white pages in several states. 

Friends, the phone book is a valuable Art Supply!  Build a stash for the future.

So how does one use a phone book in an art studio, you ask?  Here's my list:

1. As a gluing station. Tear off the cover. Place the item to which you'll apply glue on top of the phone book and apply the glue. Tear off the page and toss it. Repeat. You'll never again get glue on the surface of a paper or photo. 
    Tear off a 1/2 inch hunk of paper and pack with your traveling art supplies.

2.  As collage ephemera. Use a strip of numbers or names in your collage work.

3.  To clean your paint brush.  And then use the painted paper in collage.  Or toss it.

4.  Use as a pad when attaching grommets or rivets.

How do YOU use phone books in the studio?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Rivers


Oregon, especially the western part, is all about water and mountains and forests and rivers and agriculture. Because we get lots of misty rain we have abundant snow in the mountains, plenty of water in our rivers and streams, and lots of clean water to drink and to irrigate our crops. Our drinking water which comes from the Bull Run Reservoir is so pure that we drink it straight without lots of chemicals or processes to purify it. 
This pier is on the Willamette, near Oregon City. I wish I had a boat!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Self Portrait - Birthday

Self Portrait
September 2010

Today is my birthday. Some creative people have birthday rituals; they paint a self portrait or make a self portrait doll or a scroll of the last 12 months or write in a birthday book, but I won't do any of these things. My ritual is to gather family around me and have a little love fest. I'll go to church, then to my favorite cafe for brunch with my husband, maybe spend a few hours in my studio and garden, and then meet my family for a burger. It'll be fun, low key and so good to be with family and friends that I love. What could be better?

Perhaps shooting a self portrait will be part of my future birthday ritual. Or maybe I'll make a birthday card that I can copy to send to friends on their birthdays. Hmmm, that's a good idea.

Do you have birthday rituals?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson

May I introduce you to my friend Elizabeth Nelson who has an unusual approach to figurative collage.  She draws a recognizable subject (domestic and barnyard animals, people and landscape) onto board and then brings them to life by adding painted papers to the forms and some of the background.
Enjoy the video. You'll find the link to her blog in my blog list in the sidebar.



4 pieces of paper on card. It works.

Thursday, September 23, 2010



I'm pleased with this one. The top layer is spray stencil. The bottom layer is part of a nude painting I did in a class that's really ugly except in the details... the painting is the upper band and the lower right area of gray and yellow... so 3 pieces of paper glued to the background = a pretty nice collage.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time

Sometimes there's just not much one can say about a piece. I'm sure you can see the struggle here, but at least I did the work.

I've been asked why I make these little collages, what I'm going to do with them. It doesn't matter what the end result is; it just matters that I do the work. Doing the work, whether it's collage or painting or drawing or writing or exercising or practicing any discipline, is how one improves her/his skill set. I'm showing up and doing the work.

It takes discipline and an objectively self-critical attitude about one's own work to reach a high level of achievement, and it's easy to fall short of the mark. (John Hulsey)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gifted For Service

Gifted for Service

Bands of unusual text lend a mysterious element to this little collage. The background was cut from a watercolor experiment... that's the green and reddish brown at top right and along the bottom. The numbers are cut from a Bingo card and the lower row of text was some unrelated documents printed like a double-exposure photograph, a favorite thing to do on top of a too-light photograph.  Just run the photo back through the printer 2 or 3 times, allowing the ink to dry in between print runs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Portland

In my sketchbook about Oregon I'm moving from west to east, now pausing in Portland to have a look at a bit of the downtown. Our largest city has a vibrant core, anchored by Pioneer Courthouse Square with the MAX light rail lines radiating from there out to the suburbs in four directions, to Clackamas, Gresham and the airport, to Vancouver, and Hillsboro. Crossing that grid is the streetcar line and a large bus complex. Transportation is easy with free Max rides downtown and computer parking lots in many suburb communities.

Assuring that no one should be thirsty our city fathers placed drinking fountains all over the downtown area, 126 of them. These provide clean, cold running water from 6am until 11pm every day unless there's ice or high wind. They're called Benson Bubblers, after Simon Benson who ordered the first ones to be placed.

My cousin once visited me and when we went downtown in the evening he was amazed at how many people were on the streets, lounging in the Square, bustling to theatres, heading for a restaurant, or simply strolling along the Willamette river that runs through the center of town. It's quite safe in most areas and because many retail stores and restaurants stay open into the evening it doesn't feel closed down and deserted like some cities.  I like it here, a lot.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barb and Jo and the Pacific Ocean

Barb and Jo
Daily Collage

Earlier this year Barb came for a visit to search the north Oregon Coast for wave action photos to use as she plans a series of fiberart paintings.  We stopped at a small overlook to see where the path led. Someone had placed two old plaid recliners on a flat spot facing the ocean,  (creative dumping, for sure) so we took advantage of the comfy spot to watch for waves and whales.  Neither one showed up, nor were the old chairs particularly comfortable but it all made for a big laugh and a little story.

This isn't art but it satisfied my need to create something.

Perhaps I shouldn't call myself an artist. I'm creative in all that I do and sometimes I make art, too. It's all good for my soul.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daily Collage - Tree


I made a contact sheet in Photoshop of some of my drawings and photos in order to reuse them as focal points in collages and on journal pages. This is one of the first of my Bare Bones series of tree drawings on sewn paper collage backgrounds.

Making a contact sheet of small photos for a variety of uses is quite easy. I use Photoshop 7. Go to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II. Set your numbers and watch the magic happen. I use the $17 packet of glossy paper from Costco or else the matte paper from Staples that you can print on each side. Printing on each side works well if you want your photos to become book pages.

Probably you can make contact sheets with Photoshop Elements and most other photo software. Cut them out and glue them to a magnetic backing for quickly made giveaways.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daily Collage - People


My habit is to have a stack of papers or old book pages on the painting table and I clean my brushes on these papers. The blue part of this collage was acrylic painted onto a sheet of used ledger paper from the early 50's.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Daily Collage - Man


Some of the surfaces I'm working on were from a failed acrylic painting that I cut into 5x7 pieces. This section of the painting actually worked quite well as the background for the collage. Serendipity rules again... these 3 pieces were lying together in my compost box as if to say, "Take us, take us. Glue us together." So I did.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Sketchbook Project - Forests


This is one of those shots taken from the passenger seat of my car, driving down the highway at 60 miles an hour. Surprisingly the shot turned out okay, at least for the Sketchbook Project. I cut it in two to fit across the spread and then extended the lines and colors, with a little insert taken within one of the coast range forests.

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