Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Deep Blue... Mixed Media Collage

Deep Blue
Jo Reimer
9" x 12"
mixed media collage
This first completed collage of the week came about because I happened to put the photo of the ocean down on top of the painted paper. Composing the elements on a panel that I had just prepared with gesso over a failed effort led me to that sweet spot of knowing when it was just right.

Perhaps this makes the case for working with compost on a messy table.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Artful Compost Revisited

Just Sayin'
Jo Reimer
7.5 x 7.5
mixed media collage with painted papers
I keep a small basket of 7.5" substrates, mostly 140# and 300# weight, to use for collage. A full sheet of watercolor paper tears down to this size with no waste. When I travel I can grab a few sheets and toss them into a box of "compost" along with scissors, a tearing ruler, and glue so I have something to play with when the mood strikes.

I've talked before about my compost and if you click the link above you'll see some pictures of some of my compost piles. My blog header is a photo of a pile of compost in my studio. I'm not talking about making rich dirt. My compost consists of paper, piles of paper which I've painted and dyed and printed in various ways. I call it compost because as I search my piles and boxes of paper it all becomes a jumble of color that often suggests new, rich uses.

I don't use much ephemera or other commercially printed paper in my collage practice, preferring to paint original papers so that the artwork I create is completely my own. The painted papers add a complexity that I can't get from commercially printed papers. Most images in my work are my own photos or drawings. I don't see anything wrong with appropriated images when they're transformed in some way by the artist using them; it's just not my way of working.

Have you started your own compost pile? It's satisfying... like Just Sayin'.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Workshop Report

Spot On
Jo Reimer
10" x 10"
Mixed Media
 It's been a week since I began the workshop with Donna Watson and time to post a report. For two days we worked with Japanese Rice Paper (washi) painting one side with acrylic paints of a consistency that left fibers visible on the reverse side which, in many cases, became the front. Then we cut and tore these papers and made collages. Spot On was my first one and if you look closely you can see the visual texture of the papers which were actually quite smooth to the touch.

The Good Life
Jo Reimer
10" x 10"
Mixed Media
I'm showing each collage in the order in which they were created. This one is a mix of papers, moving away from using lots of black and including more color. The lower left quadrant was painted with ultramarine on the other side. Remember that every piece of paper has two sides. The text in the orange band features painting over writing; the white vertical band features what I call "writing that can't be read"; some of the orange bits papers painted over a laser copy of names of women who've influenced my life, and at the top left is blue and black painted washi over handwriting. Because the washi is so thin it will show the layers below.

Jo Reimer
10" x 10"
Mixed Media
Torn is a quickie collage using just three papers. Donna tells me that this is more "me" than the others because I'm all about color and organic. I think she's right and perhaps that's why it went together so quickly. The piece on the left is white spray paint through a stencil onto brown. The orange stripe is painted tissue from my painted papers stash. The piece on the right is washi. I worked on palette paper, mixed raw umber with black and white and rolled it onto the palette paper, then combed through it to create the undulating lines.

Falling Leaf
Jo Reimer
10" x 10"
Mixed Media
Falling Leaf is my personal favorite. The top and bottom bands are washi painted in class. The orange band at center left is from my stash of tissue painted with inks. The leaf is from my garden, pressed last year and saved for just such a reason. The leaves are turning again and it's time to gather and press another batch. In our family we're all about trees. We have a family wholesale nursery where we grow ornamental trees which are sold to nurseries across the country. The crops include lots of Japanese maples and we have many growing around our home. I love to draw the winter skeletons of trees so using leaves in my mixed media collages is a given.

Now you wonder if I've followed through since the workshop and the answer is yes and no. I got sick the first day with a chest cold and since the workshop I haven't felt like doing much of anything other than reading over my class notes and summarizing them. My intention for tomorrow is to gather my stock of washi and tubes of acrylic and get busy painting more papers. That usually leads me directly to making and then I'll be off and running.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

How to get the most from a workshop

I’ve wasted lots of time and money on workshops, mostly art related, wasted because I had no procedure for follow through. All athletes know the importance of follow through. You don’t just throw or kick the ball but you complete the movement by getting ready for what comes next.

Workshops are the same.

You prepare by ...
·         reading whatever you can find that the leader has written
·         practicing what you’ve read about
·         gathering whatever supplies are stated by the teacher
·         packing your Go-Bag and dressing the part

During the workshop you take notes and put into practice what you’ve learned.
At least this is how we should begin...

But in the past I’ve made a crucial mistake. I would go home and unpack my bags, file my notes and return to my usual routine.

And what happened? I forgot what I learned because I didn’t follow through. I didn’t stand at my easel every day for the next week to practice this new method I learned. I didn’t re-read my notes. I didn’t work in my journal to explore further ideas for how I could adapt this to my skill set. I didn’t work hard after the workshop to drill the new knowledge into my memory banks. I wasted my time and money even though I probably had a good time.

As a student teacher I learned that there are many ways people learn. Some learn best by reading, some by hearing, but all learn best by doing… and then doing it again and again.

Continuing to practice the new skill over and over is a given. I knew better but I simply didn’t apply it to my own role as a student.

Growing as an artist or writer or whatever kind of maker you are depends on follow through: putting the new skills into practice, thinking about ways to make this new skill part of your way of being.

It’s been awhile since I attended a workshop but I’m taking one this week. I have my supplies ready. This will be a collage workshop with Donna Watson. I'm taking it because I admire her work and because after a fallow summer I need a jumpstart and I think Donna is just to one to help me.  I am excited to learn a different approach.
In addition to gathering the recommended supplies I have done some thinking about this class and I’ve decided to go with a focus of my own. I’ll do as she says but with my own plan in mind.

I chose a color scheme. My paints are the black and white she suggests and to these I added blues, browns and bits of orange. I like working on a square format so I cut my substrates 10” x 10” instead of 8x10. I have a vision of making a book out of these collages so I will strive to make pieces that will work together, flowing from page to page. Eventually there will be text on each page so I’ll keep that in mind as I work.

When I leave the workshop after two days I’ll have made a good start on my master plan.  But the skills I learn and the ideas I develop won’t stop here. I’ll keep working. I won’t put away my supplies; I’ll lay them out on my work tables and I’ll continue working on this until the flow stops naturally or I’ve reached completion.

I won’t turn to other work yet. I’ll keep on doing what I learned, what I started.  This is the beginning, but not the end. And not a minute will have been wasted.
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