Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Exercises In Collage

We often hear the phrase 'Art for art's sake', but how can we relate that concept to our everyday lives? When we actually have the experience of creating art ourselves, without any actual purpose in mind, we come to find that we've learned far more than any formal training can provide.  I once had an art professor, George Kokis at the University Of Oregon, who, against the conventions of academia, advocated for just such a thing: "It's not about the product, it's about the process."

My favorite art collage process involves the use of small canvases, in sizes ranging from 3x4 inches to 4x6 inches.  Each of the three pieces in this post are 4x4 inches and began as a 12x12 inch piece of cardboard which I cut down and applied several coats of gesso to.  They are the perfect bases for those times when I just want to experiment with paints and papers.

This first work above has images that I carefully cut and placed around the canvas after having laid in some Cerulean Blue and Sap Green acrylic on the background.  I saved the cuttings from that vase-like shape to use on the other two canvases.  Some touches of dry-brushed gold, around and between the images as well as around the outside edges, gives it some highlight.  Lastly I utilized a technique called mark-making, which means to draw with a black pen around the perimeter of each image to give the work some dimension.  The secret to this technique is to smear the ink after a few minutes to make it blend into the background.

For this second piece I started with a layer of Iridescent Gold Deep acrylic, then ran a coat of Sap Green over that.  Next I carefully laid the left over pieces of the vase-like image down and painted the inside with Cerulean Blue to get the negative shape of that image.  I also painted the positive portion of the cut out for use on the third piece.  While the shape was still on the canvas I colored around the perimeter of it with some Iridescent Gold Deep.  Next, I painted red lines around the border, and finally, placed the images of the cherries and the bird and drew some mark-making on those.

This third work reuses the vase-like image negative, adhered to the surface after preparing the canvas with a coat of Sap Green mixed with Iridescent Gold Deep paint.  Next I added another border of the Iridescent Gold Deep around the vase-like image, then added some gold around the outside edges, followed by purple lines around the border.  Finally, cutouts of the stylized Thunderbird and a few tiny nude figures on the left, were adhered, again with some mark-making around the perimeter of each image.

Having a library of images cut and ready to go
makes this sort of collage exercise easy to do.  I spent the better part of a year carrying a variety of magazines around with me, and every chance I got I would flip through one and just keep my eye flowing around looking for pictures that appealed to me.  The result is several file folders full of images that are a joy for me to look through whenever I have the desire to make my small works of art.  And the best part is that the overall cost of the materials is very low.

I hope you also will consider trying your hand at collage.  Once you begin the process of doing art for art's sake, you'll want to experience it again and again.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome To My Autumn Garden

scrapbook layout,
    Seasonal changes are alive here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  As Mother Nature shifts from late summer to early fall, I am reminded of how much joy my garden gave me last year at this time.  Recently, I made this layout to commemorate the small pleasures of my garden in Autumn: changing colors, birds that flit in and out of my yard, and the beginning of the rainy season.  What seasonal changes are you welcoming right now?  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summer Garden: Dahlias

dahlias, red dahlia, Dazzling Dreams Blend, Dazzling Dreams Blend dahlia, garden
    As autumn approaches here in the Northwest U.S., I thought it would be fun to have a last hurrah, or a sort of showcase of my very favorite summer flower - the dahlia.  I'm thinking this is my garden's summer swan song as it begins to fade and the signs of autumn creep in, and maybe perhaps the new acquaintances I'm beginning to meet on Instagram will have some inspiration for their summer gardens yet to come. 

One of my main goals in the garden from the beginning about three years ago was to curate flowers which have an Asian aesthetic; those that are known not only for their beauty, but for qualities such as peace, quiet, and calm.  Lilies definitely fit that description, and when our family visited the Portland Japanese Garden a couple of years ago, I saw a few hydrangeas there and decided those would go in my garden as well.  

As for the dahlias, most of the time when I've seen them used in Asian inspired floral design, I usually see those that are completely round and ball or pompom shaped, so I started with that type.  A funny thing happened however - after I started growing them, I began to notice how incredibly popular dahlias are right here in my town.  There is a Lane County Dahlia Society that shows and sells these beauties, and dahlia lovers also sell their bulbs at the Oregon Plant Fair.  Suddenly I found myself fascinated with these lovely flowers in all their infinite variety.  

I don't know the names of all of the dahlias in my garden, but for starters the red one at the top of this post and the orange one below are from a package called 'Dazzling Dreams Blend'.  The package card stock shows three varieties, but so far only these two have grown.

dahlia, orange dahlia, Dazzling Dreams Blend, Dazzling Dreams Blend dahlia, garden
This second orange ball-like one looks very much like the first, however I purchased this bulb at one of the local plant fairs:
dahlia, orange dahlia, pompom dahlia, ball dahlia, garden
This next variety, which is known in general as the cactus dahlia, has become my most treasured for its spiny, spiky petals that resemble a sea urchin, of all things!  Notice the various combinations of color: yellow-orange, yellow, orange-yellow, pink-yellow. Delightful!

dahlia, cactus dahlia, orange yellow dahlia, yellow orange dahlia, garden

dahlia, cactus dahlia, yellow dahlia

dahlia, cactus dahlia, orange yellow dahlia, yellow orange dahlia

dahlia, cactus dahlia, orange yellow dahlia, yellow orange dahlia, garden

dahlia, cactus dahlia, yellow dahlia, garden

dahlia, cactus dahlia, pink yellow dahlia, yellow pink dahlia, garden
Also of the cactus-type variety is this 'Dutch Explosion' (shown below), with its shaggy appearance and bright fuchsia color.  I actually planted this bulb about two years ago and it never came up - until this year.

dahlia, Dutch Explosion, Dutch Explosion dahlia, pink white dahlia, white pink dahlia, garden
dahlia, Dutch Explosion, Dutch Explosion dahlia, pink white dahlia, white pink dahlia, garden

Unfortunately I don't know the type or name of this next one, but I can say that I chose it for its lovely orange color:

dahlia, orange dahlia, garden

I don't want to forget these last dahlias, which are an annual variety called a Collerette, because I purchased them at the very beginning of my gardening days, and even though they were labeled as annuals, every year a few still come back:
dahlia, Collerette, Collerette dahlia, yellow dahlia, garden
Are you crazy for dahlias?  Share a story with me!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pocket Scrapbooking

6x8 pocket scrapbook, studio calico sandlot kit, Take a Deep Breath in my Garden, 4x6 photo, 6x8 photo, 3x4 Project Life cards, Project Life
    I've been scrapbooking for about ten years now, but I've really been a memory keeper for as long as I can remember.  I've always enjoyed collecting things;  from a cigar box with a few treasures in it during my childhood, to cards, letters, and memorabilia from my teen years on.  It was also while I was a teenager that I became interested in photography, and I've been taking photos ever since.  It only seemed natural then, that I would gravitate towards scrapbooking.  

I enjoy making traditional layouts, which for me, has been the 12x12 inch size, but in my search for a way to more fully document our family's day to day lives and still have a creative way to express those lives, I've started to utilize the 6x8 inch pocket albums.  The beauty of this format, besides its ease and how quickly pages come together, is its versatility.  I can work on any pages I want, in any order I want, and because it's a ringed binder, I can add things, move pages around, move individual photos or cards around - and it all remains a seamless story.

Here are three page spreads from my current album.  I've recently joined Studio Calico's Project Life monthly kit club.  It comes with a selection of both 4x6 and 3x4 cards, and several embellishments such as labels and alphabet stickers.  The garden layout above was made using my first kit, which is called Sandlot. 

I love to showcase my garden, and you may recognize the enlarged photo on the right from last weeks post about my lilies.  I knew that lily would be one I would also like to emphasize in my album, and chose it for this spread.  Once I had my photos chosen and printed, it was as easy as slipping the 4x6 photo into that bottom left pocket, and mounting the enlargement onto card stock.  Then, I chose those two 3x4 cards for the top left pockets, did a bit of embellishing, and I was done. 

6x8 pocket scrapbook, studio calico sandlot kit, World's Greatest Kids, 4x6 photos, 3x4 Project Life cards
This second spread is my way of thanking my kids for indulging me in a photo shoot on Mother's Day and was also made using the Sandlot kit.  This is a similar layout to the first one above, but this time I've used three 4x6 photos.  Another couple of 3x4 cards embellished with letter stickers, wood veneer and some ink stamping slipped into the top left pockets finished off this page.  

6x8 pocket scrapbook, wedding, Kaede's Wedding Day, instagram photos, 4x6 photo, spring wedding, Project Life

This layout of my step-daughter Kaede's wedding is actually in three parts, of which I've finished only this introductory page. For this spread, I utilized some leftover papers I had from having made a 12x12 layout for my family album.  The floral paper on the left was cut from a 12x12 sheet of patterned paper, then mounted onto white cardstock.  The 4x6 photo was also mounted onto white cardstock.  On the right side I mounted a 3x4 card (not from the Studio Calico kit) on top of paper I cut to 4x6, then fussy cut a couple of flowers from more leftovers.  A few brads are securing those sequin flowers on the left.  Since Kaede's wedding was such a big event, I found that the 2x2 Instagram photos worked very well to fill in all the details of this beautiful story.

I hope you've enjoyed viewing these pages; I've enjoyed sharing them!
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