Mini Collages

Small Mixed Media Collages 3 x 2.5"               Back of one of the collages

Until recently the smallest work I've made has been in the 5x8" range.  
That is a comfortable size for me.  Enough room to explore an idea or some interesting materials with the advantage of completing a piece in less time than larger works demand.
These new "mini" collages are 3 x 2.5 " with recyled / repurposed materials.
Making them are part of my interest in repurposing materials that I have that
might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Here are the materials I am using:
-Fabrics with surface design experiments that I did in my BFA Program at Kent;
-Slides of my work from years of taking slides in order to enter shows
      or share/trade images with other artists.  I am using both the plastic slide
      holder as well as the film;
-Paper from failed collages or other found papers in my stash;
-Sheers from an artwork created during my MFA program at Vermont College;
-Remnants from knitting projects; 
There is also some handstitching on most of the pieces so far.
As I write this it appears to be an autobiographical endeavor of my artmaking!

I am having fun with this!
Don't know how many I will make.
I do have a lot of slides left from my 25 years of making quilts and some other mixed media artwork. Yikes!
So I will probably have slides left over for another project.  No pressure, right?!

You can see some other collage work I did during the pandemic here.

What size is comfortable for you to work in?
Does the size of the work impact how you think about design?  
Do the materials affect the size of the work?
I'd love to read your thoughts on the way size and materials affect your creative  process.

                                Until next time, keep mixing it up!




Part of teaching a workshop is giving demos...showing students how a product works, demonstrating techniques, working with a variety of materials. My most recent workshop at the Red Thread Retreat in Maryland was about experimenting with a variety of products and materials, making small samples and recording what did and did not work for each individual. 

One of the students asked me if I would demonstrate how I work when I create a mixed media piece.  What is my process, how do I even get started?  I am here to say that often my demo pieces are not very good.  But I said I would show those interested how I approach a work that is more than a sample and hopefully a good finished piece.  

To that end I walked through the room and gathered some snips of fabric and paper discarded by the students to use, since I didn't bring any of my own collage materials with me.  I started by painting a background paper with a few layers of paint - a dark layer painted over with 2 layers of mostly whites.  I find that this foundation adds some depth to the final work, even if it is entirely covered up with collage materials and other paint layers.  This creates kind of a history or soul to the work.

Then I played with the bits and pieces I had gathered.  You can see in the top image above what I started with and the original orientation.  In the second  image on the top right you can see some additional collage elements. Then some paint was incorporated which  covered and integrated some of the collage elements.  I also discarded the long narrow piece that cut through the middle of the work.  Then I needed time to think and respond to the work.  The students went back to their own work. I did a bit more painting on and off that afternoon.  Students checked in from time to time and saw  an almost finished piece (the lower left image).  Once home  I added some more white paint in the lightest area and finally the markmaking that is always so hard to add yet an important part of the final work for me.  You probably already noticed that I changed the orientation of the work as well. 

I think I got lucky with this demo of a mixed media collage.  It might have something to do with the gathering those pieces that were unlike what I would have brought from home.  Or maybe it was the "magic" of a class at the Red Thread Retreat!

For more about markmaking you can take a look at the small collages I made during the pandemic.  You can see them here.  I worked on both sides of the paper so if you want one for your own you really get two...the front and the back.  They are priced at $60 plus tax with free shipping.  Just press the buy button and it will take you to the cart.

                                   Until next time, keep mixing it up!

The Three Rs...Reduce Reuse Recycle

The Three R’s…Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. 

Recently I ordered  a 5 oz. tube of paint that arrived in a cardboard box the size of a small toaster oven.  Also in the box was lots and lots of brown paper to keep that tube of paint from shifting around in transit.

I took the tube of paint out of the box.  Then I flatten the box and the yards and yards of crumbled paper in order to take them to the recycling center.

Instead of the recycle center I decided to use some of that free paper and the cardboard to make collages.  I’ve noticed  other artists using cardboard in their work, so I’m getting on board.

In this new series, “Cardboard Collages”, I am trying to use primarily recycled materials:  cardboard, the packing paper, old artworks, some magazine and book pages, found materials.  Since I also want to do more painting I am incorporating paint along with other mixed media materials.

The pieces are 9x8” on cardboard instead of the Stonehenge printmaking paper I usually use.  In most of them I have added some of the packing paper which I paint.
After that it is all experimental! 

I am used to working in collage, but because I also want to do more painting and drawing and focus on abstraction, I am finding it a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.  But that is okay.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I also plan to make a book/journal using some of the packing paper.  I kind of like that brown paper as a substrate for art and writing.

Along with recycling the cardboard and packing paper here are other ways I am trying be mindful of the three R’s in my studio:
    -I keep a box near my work area for small scraps of paper that will go to the            larger box of recycled paper in the garage.
    - Instead of paper towels I use old T-shirts and dish towels to wipe up paint, 
    -Before I order more of anything in the studio, I try to check what I already have.
    -I use a plastic cafeteria tray for my paint palette with another one on top as a lid.
      This helps preserve the paint longer than paper plates.

I don’t have these new cardboard pieces on my website yet, but you can see an installation where I recycled lots of tea bags and the tea inside of them in a work I titled “Six Degrees of Separation”.   The tea bags have portraits transferred to them. The title suggests we are all more closely connected than we realize.  You can see it here.

                                   Until next time keep mixing it up!


Minimal / Spare / Abstract

Top Image:  "Choosing Sides"       Bottom Image:  "Loss" 

I have spent my studio time recently creating collages that have a more
minimalist quality.
It is interesting to see how pieces with simple shapes and lines use the space of the page.  There is also certain dynamic that occurs with limited color and the way the shapes,lines and stitch engage the space.
The pieces here have painted backgrounds created by layering lighter colors over layers of a darker color to create depth and texture. 
The collage elements are a combination of paper and fabric with some stitching...more stitching in some pieces, less in others.
My ultimate goal is to create abstract works with emotional qualities because of the materials and the way I use them.  
I am looking for work that appears somewhat effortless and spare.
The work was often not effortless.
Maybe that is because this way of thinking and working abstractly is new for me.
 It reminded me of my work in quilt making where I moved from creating pieces that were made with the rules of traditional quilt making...  
quarter inch seam allowances, a specific number of hand quilting stitches per inch, clean and raw edged pieces with a loose and free look.
It all takes time.
It takes a different mind set and a certain willingness to just "go for it!"
Easier said than done, at least for me.

For more abstract and minimal collages that I made during the pandemic go here.

Until next time, keep mixing it up!



Balancing Act

Balancing Act

"Finding a Balance"  ( Detail of a larger artwork)    mixed media collage on paper

Do you ever find it difficult to get everything done or find time to do all that you want to do?
I do and I find it so true at the change of seasons, especially the change from spring into summer.
I have all of this studio work that I want to do. Projects that are partially done, others that are barely started or ones that are almost complete. And of course there are all of the ones in my head!
But now it is summer and I want to get the garden going and add to the perennial flower beds.
Not to mention weeding and mowing.
And what about family and friends or time to go on a vacation?
Isn't summer about vacation and relaxing?

So you can see that finding the balance between all of these activities can be difficult.  At least it is of me.   It is as if I am constantly juggling, well, life.
Sometimes I just need to slow down.  Prioritize.  
Take something out of the equation. (Probably something like cleaning will have to go!)
Look at gardening as a creative activity, an art project for the summer, which I truly believe it is.
Make small rather than large artworks in order to feel that sense of accomplishment in the studio.

I really don't want to give anything up.   I think that is the problem. day at a time.
Today it is a bit of weeding and finishing the prep for my workshop next week at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus where I wll be teaching a mixed media collage class.

Want some collage and mixed media inspiration similar to what I will be teaching in my class?  Just click here.
Until next time, keep mixing it up!