Deconstruct / Reconstruct

        "It is only through connection with the intuitive or unconscious forces
                                  that we contact the fresh and new."
                                                       -Terry Winters

                             Deconstructed Contemporary Quilt no. 2.  2001

What does it mean to "Deconstruct" an artwork?
Is it different than cutting up pieces you weren't satisfied with, finding and then using the parts that still resonate with you? Deconstruction, for me, refers to taking apart a work or an object that is perfectly fine as is.  But you choose to deconstruct it, using its many parts, to give it a new persona, identity, and purpose.

Jacques Derrida, a French Philosopher asserted that there is not one single intrinsic meaning to be found in a work, but rather many.  And these new meanings can be conflicting.  Shapes and structures were often distorted, fragmenting the images and narratives in the work. 

I began working with deconstruction when I was in graduate school in 2001.  
One of my mentors suggested I deconstruct a work or an object I liked.
So I started with a Liz Claiborne sweater since I was concentrating on clothing that semester.  It was a sweater that I loved and wore a lot.  It was important to me to be willing to take apart and reuse this loved garment.  It was a sacrifice.  

I didn't take a picture of the the original sweater, but it had a rounded neckline,  was a bulky knit, and over-sized.  I started by unraveling it section by section and then re-knitting it.  I gave the sweater a turtle neck and one very long arm.  Many open areas.  The result was a revelation to me.  I was able to say so much with this new object...a turtleneck to hide in; one long arm to represent my attempts to make/create; holes and open areas to show my insecurities.  
                    Deconstructed Liz Claiborne Sweater.    2001

I also deconstructed some of my original contemporary quilts.  I went into the graduate program as a quiltmaker but was open to exploring other media and techniques as they related to me as a fiber artist.  Below is a deconstructed quilt cut into squares and encased in a box giving it a new identity as an art object but without reference to a quilt's traditional purpose as a covering that provides comfort.  Without reference to the patterns and design that made something that anyone would name as "quilt". 
                             Deconstructed Contemporary Quilt no. 1

I have continued to deconstruct artworks throughout the years.  Recently I did an exercise where I was practicing bold marks with a permanent marker.  Something one couldn't erase.  
This work was not precious to me but it did offer the opportunity to create a more dynamic piece if it were cut up and reassembled.  Relying on my quilting roots I turned the black and white drawing into a paper quilt.

All of the above examples reflect the idea of deconstructing something and using its parts in reconstructing that item.  But does one have to use the whole object alone in the deconstructing and reconstructing?  If you think about reconstruction as experimenting with rebuilding and reorganizing is there room here for adding other materials to disrupt the conventional and uncover fresh narrative possibilities?
Currently, I am making works that combine paper and fabric in juxtaposition that seem unexpected or new to me. I want to combine parts of paintings with strong textured areas and good compositions with other materials to create a new narrative.
While I am not using all of the parts of the painting pictured below in one single work, I am using parts of this one painting to make 3 new mixed media works. 

                                 "Legacy". mixed media painting.  2020
I cut the painting and combined sections of it with other materials...fabric remnants, paper, lace imbedded with plaster, and zippers. I like the reference to the past work as well as their newfound identities.  Perhaps you can see how the shape of this new piece might suggest an element of clothing; a T-shirt perhaps or a kimono. 
The shape was intuitive and demonstrated a return to my ongoing interest in clothing that challenges conventional ideas about form and order.   


Have you done any deconstruction/reconstruction of your artworks?
Do you find it difficult to cut, repaint, add to, edit or reconfigure your past works?
Is there a difference between deconstructing works you like and using the redeemable sections of an otherwise bad painting, collage, or drawing?
Just some things to think about as you continue your creative journey.

                                    Until next time, keep mixing it up!

Click to see more mixed media pieces that combine paper and fabric. 

"The Hoyt Regional Juried Art Competition".  Hoyt Art Center.  
May 21-July 25, 2024.  1124 East Leasure Ave. New Castle PA

"Picnic". Pinwheel Gallery    June 1 - July 26, 2024
2019 Broadview Road. Cleveland OH

"Northeastern Ohio Textile Artists (NOTA) Innagural Art Exhibit
Sept. 12-Nov. 16, 2024   Beachwood Community Center.  Beachwood OH

"Climate Change". Coburn Art Gallery. Ashland University.  Ashland OH
Aug 29-Sept. 28, 2024.  Reception August 29, 2024.   4:30-6:30 PM

Join me for a three hour dive into working with mixed media and collage!
Mixed Media Collage Workshop.  Valley Art Center   July 20, 2024. 11-2 PM
For more information and to register click here.

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Midnight Marks

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."    -Proust                       
                                              " Midnight Marks"
                                         4x6"    pen on bristol board
What do you do when you can't sleep?
Often I am too tired to fall asleep.  The day just plays and reruns in my head.  
Or I think about what I want to accomplish tomorrow.  
Yeah, I know, I shouldn't do that.  
So recently I have been doing a drawing practice I call "Midnight Marks".

I was inspired by Louise Bourgeois's "Insomnia Drawings".
Bourgeois was plagued throughout her life with bouts of insomnia.  
Yet she was highly productive during these spells making drawings that were representative of the themes and imagery in her work overall.These drawings, many done in red pen, were sometimes accompanied by notations and writings.

"Insomnia Drawing"     by Louise Bourgeois 
I love the very visceral and organic appearance of her drawings that reference for me innards, body parts and emotions.

I took the idea and I am working in pen on bristol board paper 
that I keep by my bed. 
My own reference for the tangled shapes came from a drawing project I had my college students do using shredded computer paper.  Given a pile of these papers they were free to interpret them as organic, geometric, touching closely or in many separate pieces.

So now I am doing the exercise (without the actual pile of paper in front of me) trying to capture the tangle of thoughts that run through my head when I can't sleep.
I have gotten caught up in creating lots of contrast and many different shades using just one Bic stick pen.  I like the quaility of the bristol board for this exercise and I love making those dark, dark layers.

This was the first one, just simple lines with my floating thoughts tethered to the dark loops hanging from the top of the paper.

Still simple tangles /thoughts in a night into day kind of space.
                 Greater use of shading.  Thoughts over more buried thoughts.  

The background is becoming the most important part of these drawings for me.
I have always liked working in black and white and these drawings are a revelation to me in markmaking, layering and free association of density and space.

What do you do when you can't sleep?
Does it help?  Is it related to art or do you need to do something entirely different
in order to find some calm?
This inquiring Newsletter writer wants to know!

Want to see more Midnight Marks Drawings?  Click here.

Until next time, keep mixing it up!
                                UPCOMING EVENTS
"Interplay"  Collage Artists of America.   Online Exhibit
It will go live online on April 1 at
April 1 - May 31, 2024

"Hoyt Regional Juried Art Competition"
124 Leasure Ave.  New Castle PA
May 21-July 25, 2024 

"Picnic"       Pinwheel Gallery
2019 Broadview Rd.   Cleveland OH 44109
June 1-July 26, 2024. Hours:  Wed, Turs. Fri., Sat.  2-6PM
                            BOOKMAKING WORKSHOP!    JUNE 1
 Join me for a book making workshop at Valley Art Center 
on Saturday June 1 from 11am to 2pm.  
Get all of the details and register by clicking here.
Valley Art Center   155 Bell Street   Chagrin Falls OH.  44022.
440-247-7507.             SOLD OUT!
                                     MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER!
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Black, White and Inbetween


"When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work.  I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw.  She stared back at me incredulous and said, "You mean they forget?" 
                                                                                          - Howard Ikemoto

I read this quote in Steve Aimone's book "Expressive Drawing". 
I thought it was funny and yet so true.  Not that we forget how to draw but that we move into adulthood and what we forget is the kind of freedom we had as children to just express ourselves.  Expectations of the word 'drawing' starts to hold us back as the expectations are often high.... perfect perspective and well drawn recognizable people and objects.

It also made me think about the materials we most often use to start with when drawing or painting or collaging.  We often start with white paper and a dark tool like a pencil, pen or paint to start the work.

When I was in my undergraduate days, taking a drawing class (because it was a requirement), it dawned on me as I was completing an assignment that if I worked with a toned paper, one that was a beige or tan color, it would help me make the whites stand out in contrast to the mid tones.  It added more interest to the overall work because the paper had a color to it already.

I have used this information in creating collages, working on paper with a color to add more interest to the work from the start.  Like the pieces you see here from my collage work during the pandemic.


In the same way you can start with a black paper or canvas.  This really pushes you and the way in which you respond to that darkness and what you want to draw or describe.  The majority of the marks need to be light.  I found this to create a huge shift in the way I would work...a reversal of my thinking. Here are some black and white works starting with black paper. 

The above drawings on black paper incorporate white paint, white pencils, white ink, some white collage elements and black ink pen.  Working on the black really changed the focus and my process.  This is not to say that you can't work with other colors for the substrate or when painting your composition.  I chose to use only black and white here.

I have done a lot of black and white paintings in my time.  I love black and white and have most often started with a white canvas working with just black and white paint.  That is the convential way, right?  
In an experiment I started with a black canvas at the suggestion of other artists whose work I admire.  That black underpainting got almost completely covered but it also offered a surface that I could draw and paint on top of or sand down to expose the black or underneath layers. It affected the color decisions I made as I worked.  
There are many ways start an artwork and the substrate you start with is the first decision.  It doesn't have to be white.  It can be black or some color inbetween.

You can see some recent work that I did on brown packing paper with mostly black and white paint.  In some of the pieces the tone of the brown paper still shows through.  In others you will mostly see the black and white paint.
Just click here to see this new work, which is a continuation of my Waste Management series minus the cardboard.

                                   Until next time, keep mixing it up!

                            SHOP MY WEBSITE FOR MOTHER'S DAY! 
                                     Give Mom  the gift of art!
Prints of my "Waste Management Series" are for sale along with my new original black and white drawings on packing paper.       
                                Just click here to make a selection.

                                      MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER!
 If you know someone who might like to read the Newsletter please forward it to them and they can get on my list by clicking this link:
                                              Get the Newsletter!

                                BOOKMAKING WORKSHOP!    JUNE 1
                     Join me for a book making workshop at Valley Art Center
                             on Saturday June 1 from 11am to 2pm.  
                        Get all of the details and register by clicking here.
             Valley Art Center   155 Bell Street     Chagrin Falls OH.  44022

Welcome to my SHOP!

     "There is beauty in everything, just not everybody sees it".   -Andy Warhol                           
                                          "Waste Management no. 30"
                                          9x8" print on Museum Matte Paper

            I'm so excited!!!     The SHOP is on my website and ready for you!
I have finally gotten "all my ducks in a row" in order to offer you prints of my Waste Management artworks.  This was a big learning curve for me, sourcing places to create the reproductions of the pieces and figuring out the best way to get the work to you quickly and without damage to the work.

I am proud of these pieces and the concept behind them...repurposing cardboard and packing paper as the substrate for the artwork. The works are mixed media pieces with acryllic paint, colored pencil, collage as well as some stitching and fabric.  Created over an 8 month period, they change in color and and imagery
throughout the series. 

There are currently 8 pieces for sale in the SHOP section of my web site.
I will be adding pieces as time goes on.  They are priced at $50 which includes the tax and shipping.  I wanted to offer them to you in the same size in which they were created - 9x8".  

As with all new ventures, there can be "hiccups" so I am eager to see how all of this will work.  Please feel free to email me with questions.  I look forward to your comments and as always I thank you for your interest in my work.

                                        UPCOMING  EXHIBITS
"Celestial-Exploring Cosmic Curiosities in Art".  
 BZTAT Studio located inside Canton Creator Space.
March 30- May 4, 2024.     730 Market Ave. S.  Canton OH  

"Interplay"  Collage Artists of America.   Online Exhibit
It will go live online on April 1 at
April 1 - May 31, 2024

"Annual Palette 2 Palate Fundraiser". Zimmerman Symphony Center
Saturday April 20, 2024.  2331 17th Street NW.  Canton OH
To benefit the Stark County Hunger Task Force.

Book-in-a Box Workshop.  Valley Art Center   March 23, 2024. 11-2PM
To register :  VAC Workshops

                                      MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER!
 If you know someone who might like to read the Newsletter please forward it to them and they can get on my list by clicking this link:
                                              Get the Newsletter!

                                     Until next time, keep mixing it up!


Short and Sweet with a Bonus

"The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt."   -Sylvia Plath 
                                             Sketchbook Page   2/7/2024
                                              Making Marks with Collage 

I used to write a blog.
I was looking back over some of the work and topics I wrote about.  My primary interest in writing the blog was to make me accountable for thinking about and documenting my work.  So kind of like a sketchbook and writing journal combo
on my laptop.

I wanted to use this month's Newsletter to let you know that so far I am keeping up with my intentions to keep a visual sketchbook and a written journal.  Since I am not doing it as a blog these two things are physical, paper documents of those two processes.  And I am enjoying both.  I didn't realize how much I missed the sketchbook and a written journal. 
I also 'banished' my ritual of writing notes-to-self on many little bits of paper to be recorded later. Or more acurately, to be lost, misplaced, thrown away which was the reality of this misguided system.

I  am working on getting some images of my Waste Management series printed and for sale on my website.  It is taking longer than I thought it would but I think I am getting closer to making this happen.  It has been kind of a big learning curve.

 My next Newsletter will have that informaion along with some updates on exhibits.
 If you live in Northeast Ohio you might enjoy taking a one day workshop I will be teaching March 23 at the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls.
This Book-in-a-Box is a fun way to combine art and writing into a 3 dimensional 
object perfect for gifting or as a keepsake. 

For more information Look Here

Book-in-a-Box Workshop

As a Bonus for reading and commenting on my Newsletter you can download a handout that I have often used in my classes:
 One Way to Start a Mixed Media Collage.
Of course there are lots of ways to start but this might get you going.
Click the link above and download the PDF.
Until next time, keep mixing it up!  

 If you know someone who might like to read the Newsletter you can forward it to them and they can get on my list by clicking this link:
Get the Newsletter