Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A collaged little nest of envies...

Main envelope front - "Incognito" with collaged bits on rusted paper, burned holes...and the dragonfly has crazy eyes...
Collage...sounds simple, right?  Just slap some things down with glue and call it art.  Not so easy for a type 4 introverted perfectionist!  Or maybe it really is the gift I received from KCAI...sitting through critique after critique, picking art apart and having mine picked apart as well.  The experience helped me to really look at what I was doing, to consider craftsmanship and to think about how it will be visually received by others.  And that sort of "work ethic" can make collage a challenge.  (As a side note I'd like to add that I really learned minimal "skill" there...but I did learn how to use the ones I had a little better.)

Back of main envelope, rusted paper with buttons sewn on...

But my "ways" started even farther back than art school...my dad was a hard worker and things had to be tight and good and flush.  Anything worth doing was worth doing right, the first time and with the correct tools! And so I invest myself...into everything.  I once pondered making artsy zines with a friend so what did I do?   I searched around for the best bindery stapler made and purchased it before we'd even made a zine!  Just like dad taught me.  When I started playing volleyball in high school, albeit briefly, he bought an Olympic grade net and welded custom poles to hold it up.  But being so "intense" can take it's toll.

 Envelope inside with printed brayer marks, collage bits...and the queen has crazy eyes...

It was impossible for me to just slap these collages together.  As with everything I do, I got serious about it and wanted them to be interesting, somewhat coherent and tight, good, and flush. After choosing bits and pieces that I liked, I started moving them around.  I happened upon a piece of dictionary page that said "incognito" and started thinking about disguises and unreality.  As the pieces fell together, they got odder...and odder...and odder.

 Envelope inside of the last...rusted paper with caterpillar with marionette legs.  He's toting a collaged spirograph bit stitched onto his hand and note he has a crazzzzy eye...

After I got things how I wanted them, I did my thematic stitching and called it art.  Then...just when I thought I was done I realized...they all need to have the same eyes.  Why?!  I don't know! It made sense at midnight.  But adding the crazy painted eyes on each face sealed the deal for me and I finally felt like I'd completed the project.

The final collaged card in the last envelope was based on a piece of paper I'd used as a catchall for other painted projects...then I added flower parts, a dignified man with crazy eyes and a boney hand emerging through a spirograph "portal"...why not?!
Collage is a funny thing because unless you have a clear idea of what the end project will be and hunt for the parts, the parts will otherwise choose each other and dictate the "meaning".  I'm not sure I want to hunt for meaning in these pieces beyond the obvious...I'm tired...I'm sleep deprived...and I need a vacation.  If I try to start making sense out of these pieces...I might just go off the deep end, or realize that I already have?!

The next art project...metal, rivers and quotes. 
And last will be...typography, pop-ups and washi tape.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Entomology in our backyard...

Today was a beautiful day and we (but mostly I...) spent it outside...catching bugs!   I'm working on getting my kids used to the bugs they can and can't touch.  I'm sure some moms would say not to touch any of them, but I find it to be a delight of childhood and a way to gain appreciation for all the cools things that God makes.  I can't make a butterfly or a tree, I can only help them grow or kill them...but I can't create them.

The kids have a plastic place mat that feature BUGS of all kinds.  There are dragonflies, cicadas, fireflies, earthworms, on and on...and I noticed that out of the twenty creepy crawlies on there, we are only missing about 3 in our yard.  Thankfully, no tarantulas, ticks or scorpions.  That I know of!!  

After my mom sent me a picture of a monarch coccoon with the beautiful gold dots...we went outside and saw this beauty drying it's wings in the sun.  The kids had it cornered and begged me to catch it...so I obliged!  I cupped it in my hands as to not destroy all the dust on it's wings, and we passed it back and forth until it was ready to fly off on it's own.

Cicadas are probably my top favorite bug.  They're big, simple, are lovely in color, and of course they emit that attractive SHRIEKING noise, especially when squeezed ever so lightly.  Yesterday we were out with a neighbor who is admittadly afraid of bugs.  A cicada buzzed around our heads and landed on a tree in our yard.  I called out "MINE!" (as if dibs were necessary) and snatched the cicada off the tree and it began to buzz loudly.  Our neighbor learned a little more about me at that point.  I did get her to "high five" a grasshopper.  Maybe I should start a "bug appreciation 101" class for adults!  Full of ideas...right?

Grasshoppers...a classic favorite.  But unlike cicadas, these will bite you.  Or rather, a katydid will bite you, a grasshopper just works up a nasty brown "tobacco juice" and spits upon you.  Eh...it's no big deal.  You just have to know where to grab.  And it's also "polite" to grab them just right so they don't rip off their own leg.  Here is where my mom would insert story upon story of my childhood invention..."The Grasshopper Olympics".  There was swimming, wrestling, and of course...long jump.  But things happen.  Life is rough.  You lose a leg?  No problem, that's when I invented the..."Grasshopper Special Olympics"!  Ahem....next!

And here is one bug that I will not touch.  They have quite a reputation as it is, but there's something about the way they tilt their head and look right into your very SOUL.  I will touch it's back, but I've never grabbed one.   A few years back, I was getting a better look at a praying mantis on a tree branch.  As I got in close, my roommate at the time who was a outdoorsy nature girl said, "Ooh...he's sizing up the jump..."  And as soon as I said, "Huh?!"  It jumped onto my hair!  Imagine here...the scream of a real girl!!...Loud and hysterical and swatting at my hair, "Get it off!  Get it off!  Dear Lord save meeeeeee!!!!"

Good times.

But I do love bugs...and I love our yard.  All 1/5th acre of it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Playing with rust...

And then there was rust...

Have you ever done something peculiar for a very long time and you thought you knew why but later realized for REAL why you do this thing?  So for years, I've collected rusty objects.  What am I saying?!  For many, many years I have collected all sorts of objects!  A friend once teased me saying, "You will pick up anything shiny...like a crow!"  I responded, "It doesn't HAVE to be shiny!" In art school, we had little cubby holes for mail and friends would leave rusted nails in there for me as gifts.

I've bent over in the middle of the street to pick up a rusty bit of metal, and I once jumped out of my truck in the middle of an intersection to pick up a flattened, rusty muffler pipe.  It was beautiful, and I had to have it.  It hangs over the doorway of my kitchen, like the severed arm of Grendel hanging above the mead hall door, an oxidized trophy.
Currently, I've been reading India Flint's "Eco Colour" book on natural dye processes.  It's a wonderful mix of artistic eye candy and fascinating chemistry.  I now understand why red wine turns blue when you wash your glass out in the sink...the pH of the water. 

The pictures above and below represent some of the experiments I've been doing with watercolor paper or muslin, vinegar and ferrous bits such as washers and steel wool.  Finally, a real purpose for all those rusty things I've collected over the years that I just couldn't part with.  Every *dangerous* stop in the middle of the road...validated!

No longer do I compost red cabbage bits either...they make excellent blue streaks.  After I allowed my paper to rust, I "overdyed" it with the red cabbage.  Now my mind wonders...what else can I do this to?  My sheets...my muslin tablecloth...my clothes...

And black tea...the lovely dark speckles above are from some really old decaf English Breakfast tea that didn't taste that great, but made a rich dye.   Basically, the possibilities are endless.  Too bad my time to play is not.  Maybe I'll have more time now that it's cold and rainy...my tomatoes will probably just crack and *explode* and I won't be making sauce or salsa!