Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Don't TRASH the Trash - There May Be Gold in the Dumpster

I was a fan of recycling before the word was coined.  It was not so much my ahead of the times environmental streak but more the challenge of making something, the fun of reusing stuff over and over to make new items.  My generation was not entitled to brand new everything and school projects meant a school wide cry for paper towel rolls, cigar boxes and old buttons.  I think this was critical for our creative development but it was what the society could afford at the time....I digress.

Because I so loved this game I have always been accused of saving every little doodad that might possibly have a new life.  So imagine the thrill I experienced the very first time I stumbled upon a piece of "assemblage art" at a bona fide art exhibition.  At the time the only thing I "got" was that there was a creative endorsement of my saving fetish.  WOW.

You can read more on assemblage from MOMA here  or an art history definition here, but my shortened explanation is an art piece, usually 3D, put together with found objects.  Simple enough?

Yes, and no.  I have never taken the time to study assemblage seriously enough to be really stellar at it  But some of the I issues I see which are critical to success include the archival-ness of materials used (will bugs eat that?), the incredible array of tools needed (how to shorten a piece of aluminum or wood), and maintaining a pleasing composition while still managing to convey a message or produce something beautiful.  

However, technique and knowledge have never been barriers to fun and every now and then I dive in such as I did with the piece above.  Altars always fascinate me and I wanted to create one of my own,
The problem was the wide array of my beliefs cant be summed up by any one figure.  Which got me started thinking about all the things that mankind worships, or grabs at in desperation...or (see where my mind runs...?)

Here is a detail of the work in progress.

"Finding" pieces and parts takes time and patience.  Sometimes one "find" inspires an entire piece, other times you have an idea and have to begin a "collection box" for stuff specific to the idea.

"One Size Never Fits All"
assemblage, still in progress
26" x 14"

And because I like to work on several pieces at once (and I was rummaging through my treasure troves of trash) I decided to create a "nest" as well.  Here is a photo of it in progress.

"The Best We Could With What We Had"
assemblage, still in progress
16" high x 15" wide

The funny little sticks and square tiles are making an "audition."  My quilting friend Ellen Lindner  loaned me that phrase because in her work she lays out lots of fabrics and shapes while making decisions.  She calls it auditioning...I love that.  So the little "maybe picket fence" of popsicle sticks you see are only trying out for the decisions yet.

Come on over and play in my trash...perhaps then my husband will understand that all thoses bins and boxes hold the secret to future award winning pieces of art?!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Criteria for Good, GREAT Art

All in the Eye of the Beholder??

A couple of weeks ago I presumed to share with you my expectation of "good art," that is, the criteria that needed to be met before I would lay down my hard-earned $$ and live with it.  Please remember that I was not attempting to define the criteria you should use in judging a piece "good" or even "great."  But I wanted to know if you had definable standards.

YES! you shared and I report:

Judi and her husband artist Kevin Beck used to own a gallery and Judi shares: "my favorite pieces are those in which I keep discovering things."  Naturally Judi has been around a lot of artwork but she shares a fun example..."lying on the floor in front of the fireplace I looked up at one of Kevin's tree portraits and suddenly I felt as if I were in the grass under the real entirely new feeling." She also added that she loves to look at art in a variety of light and is especially drawn to those that almost "glow."

My TN friend Hershel Miller, an excellent wood turner, appreciates technique.  "After I master something I really want to see and try things that are new to me.  Same old, same old in any media gets boring in a hurry," he shared.

Another reader stated that pieces which evoke a memory are important to her.  "It can be very subtle but if it reminds me of a place or takes me to an event I enjoyed, then I am hooked and want to live with the art.  The piece alone can surround me with so much that is already tucked inside of me." That's almost art as therapy...I love it.

My friend Patti Conner-Greene, a potter, said that what matters most to her is whether or not a piece "keeps me engaged -- pulls me in, draws me back to it...sometimes wanting to understand it, sometimes the sheer beauty, sometimes the execution or even a surprise."  Patti remarks that sometimes this engagement is cognitive but that other times it may be purely visceral or sensory.

These are all thoughtful considerations on how to choose the art with which we surround ourselves.  I think Patti's word "engagement" covers the waterfront.  When a piece physically or mentally takes the beholder somewhere they would not be without the prompt, then it is a keeper.

I've got lots going on in the studio right now...all "marinating" and breathing before the final touches and a signature.

And I am thrilled to report that no one responded "match my couch and rug" as their personal criteria for selecting art.  But if you want a few giggles I will share that there is a museum dedicated to the beauty of bad art.  You've heard of MOMA, now you can meet MOBA.  The Museum of Bad Art   actually began as a way to give a home to neglected, abandoned efforts in art.  As it grew it had to establish criteria for what it would accept and house and what it rejected.  They even laugh that artists have submitted things to them...and been happy to be rejected.  Anyway, something for everyone I suppose.  Just don't be hesitant to frame and proudly hang your grandchild's efforts if it meets the criteria of engaging you on some level.  ALL art begs to be loved and enjoyed.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Off the Wall! Art on Furnishings

My Art Comes Off the Wall
My Art is Off the Wall

Choosing colors, choosing's all a creative challenge.  And if you remember my shoe painting experiment you know I love to find and make art that is not meant to hang on the wall.

I've been in a lot of elevators lately where everyone stares at the floor while traveling...and guess what? my painted shoes always provoke conversation.  Fun.  Moral of the story: surround yourself with lovely things and life gets interesting.

Back to the leather painting saga.  I wanted to fancy up a comfy/up-cycled chair if I found the proper paint.  Selecting Angelus Brand Leather paints I got busy sketching a design on tracing paper. The paper pattern was used on the chair for the first designs but abandoned as I got more comfortable with the composition.  Cleaning the chair (or shoes) first with acetone to remove any dirt or grease.


 I put transfer paper under the drawing and went over it again leaving a chalk guide line on chair.

Using throwaway Styrofoam trays for a mixing palette, I discovered that at least two coats of paint was needed if not more.  For large swatches it was critical to keep the first couple coats as smooth as possible.

The vibrant greens here contrast nicely with dark leather.

The original layout suited my first idea of keeping it all simple and sleek.  But as I progressed it began to feel a bit dull and "predictable".  A little too TJ Maxx and not enough "Bohemia" for my taste.  

So tossing the drawings, I began to let the creative muse take over.  Pops of white began to appear and the shapes of the additional flowers changed to circles.

I think it's done!  Maybe...  

My shoes have held up wonderfully but I plan to finish this piece as the Angelus Company recommends: by wiping a satin finisher over the painted areas.  I probably wouldn't bother for myself but as the piece is destined for a show, I want to assure a prospective owner that it will withstand any amount of wear and tear an office chair could expect.  (and p.s. before I began any of the ARTwork I covered up all the leather parts, ventured outside and sprayed the bottom railings to a perfect coat of black.)

And that is just one way I take my art off the walls.

COLORFully Yours,

another note: next week I'll recap the wonderful comments shared on your personal criteria for favorite art...any more thoughts please send now.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Understanding Art: Possible? Desirable? Elusive?

"The moment you think
you understand a great work of art,
it's dead for you."

Oscar Wilde

I recently read this quote in a blog by Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz and have been thinking about it ever since.  I tried to find a context in which Mr. Wilde said it but came up short.  However, it continues to resonate with me.

People often ask me to "explain this piece" (of another artist) or ask how anyone could call such-and-such, art.  I have also collected a few artists that others just can't stomach.  Why such divergent definitions?

I think art speaks to one's personal criteria. And I believe that the quote above sums up a huge part of the criteria for me personally.  I lean towards art (2D, 3D, movies, books etc.) that offer me a continuing fascination.  They have the capacity to either endlessly make me smile or continually make me think.  When something accomplishes either of these two elusive, personal standards then to me, it is art and I want it around me.

As soon as I uncover and understand everything about a piece (nice vase, spring flowers, blue table) then it is dead, for me. I don't want it or need it. But if I look again and wonder whether the vase is an old heirloom or a new gift, whether the flowers have a hidden message or were gathered for a meaningful occasion, and whether the blue table is really blue etc, well then, there is something new to think about.  When the artist can layer meaning as well as he can color and shape, then I am hooked.  I want unanswered questions, nuance, double entendre, feelings and possibilities.  

This is what I strive for in my work as well as in my collecting.  Have you ever thought about a general criteria that you have (and may not realize) as to what constitutes art that stays alive for you?
Does Oscar Wilde's statement have any meaning for you?

Think about this....and please share your thoughts.

Ever Digging,

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flying Free: Biking in Fantasy Colors

Not long ago I told you this was (to be) a painting of my sister flying down a hill on her bicycle.
We had a dangerous childhood: we actually never wore (never mind heard of) a bike helmet!!  To this day we admit to loving the wind flying free through our hair while biking.  She confessed recently that it had to be one of her favorite "guilty pleasures" as well as the way she cleared her mind and restored her soul.  Since I clear my mind by swooshing and mooshing around in color I decided to paint a tribute to both activities.  Above was the start done with acrylics and a credit card.

 Here are two details and the finished piece.  Fantasy of course but a very true story!  Where do you go to clear your mind and restore your inner peace?  Is your mini-vacay in one color or many?

This is crooked and the color may be a tad off, but it is a 12 x 12 piece done on cradled board and framed in a black shadow box with an edge inside.  If you would like to see a better photograph just email me and I can get one to you.

Colorfully Yours,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Product Testing - Painting Shoes

Putting the Best Foot Forward

I am usually guilty of putting the cart before the horse when attempting something new.  In my enthusiasm I rush right in and before I realize it I have made every possible mistake - all avoidable if I slowed down and did a little testing here and there.  So when I decided I wanted to paint a leather chair (or two) I thought I might research a couple of products first.  

Leather painting (vinyl and pleather) is a bit challenging as it tends to move and stretch and you definitely don't want the paint to crack and peel off.  So I selected a couple pair of beat up leather shoes and proceed to google everything I could on paints.

I decided to try the new sharpie oil-based paint pens as sharpie pens have always done a good job and I loved these bright colors.  These are supposed to be available at craft and office supply stores, but hmmm, I had to order mine as I could not find them locally.  These are also supposed to adhere to anything!

I also chose Angelus Leather paint as they are made specifically for leather workers.  Their web site provided info and a way to order directly.

And so I began.... first out of the gate were the sharpie pens:

I immediately realized that the point of the pen was somewhat limiting as it took a lot of strokes to cover much territory.  Also I was disappointed that the color did not show up well on the dark leather (and my chair is also dark) but with patience I realized that at least 3 coats were needed for each color to reach maximum value.

 The gold on the shoe is gesso, not marker (a desperate move when the color was slow to show but also a good test).  The orange, pink and blue colors are from the sharpie paint markers.

Next I decided to try the angelus paints so I gathered up several small tipped, soft brushes. I had inquired as to whether or not the colors could be mixed and with a YES answer I was excited to get started.

The information on-line advised applying several thin coats of paint, letting it dry between each.  I really loved working with these as I could vary the size of my brush and thus get a different line.  They were fairly quick to dry so I did not have to wait overnight to do second, or third coats of color. And, just like the sharpies, the color got more vibrant as each coat went on.  I felt I had more artistic control with a brush than I did with a pen point.

So now the research and development department has to put the paints to the real test: wear and tear!

I'm out wearing these creations now trying to see if they hold up or fade or peel off.  For a complicated project (such as my chair) I will much prefer working with the paints: they can be mixed for new colors, blended more easily and applied with different size brushes.  For a quick craft project (place cards, small wooden or terra cotta pots and the like) I think the felt tip of the sharpies will work just fine, but remember that you may only work with the colors offered by Sharpie.

So I will subject these shoes to water, dirt, crinkles, wrinkles and maybe an occasional coffee spill, all in an effort to be certain that my masterpiece, the purple leather office chair, will hold up and retain its design while in use.  Have any old, comfy shoes in need of a sprucing up?  Have at it...we can compare notes!

Experimentally yours,