Sunday, February 20, 2022

keeping on

ninety and counting... 

I've amassed a nice little collection of these tiny collages and have a few left to do though I'm taking a break for a few days

studies of water, sand, driftwood, seagulls, seaweed, wild roses, aspen trees, fir trees, moss, mushrooms and so on

aspen trees

I've been looking at them and making notes, thinking about what I'm seeing, noticing commonalities, what is being repeated - they're a clue as to what appeals the most to me which seems a good place to begin

when I was working on the bird tracks in the samples I began stitching some, then wondered if what I was doing was correct - I decided to double-check online - a perfect case of what we think and what we see and what is really happening

even though I was only wanting to look at the shape of the marks, the images were all so inspiring that I knew I wanted to do more with them once the collages were finished... ideas tumbled and the next thing I knew I didn't know where to start

(Lesson 1 - stay away from the internet!)

when I don't know what to do I start small... a line of tracks in the sand then

I drew a few simple curved lines on the khadi paper I am loving working with and then found a small painted collage I had done a while ago - it was done to capture a thought, not meant to be anything other than that

when I laid it on the paper it looked fine but I had a hankering to do something a little more interesting so I got my ruler and rotary cutter, turned the collage over and sliced away

a slightly staggered placement and I was happy

I posted it in the forum of a class I'm taking by Karen Ruane and then a short while later I posted it on Instagram as well

one of the comments from a classmate gave me pause...

to paraphrase, "I like this but I prefer the layout of the Instagram version"


the image I posted in the class was with the strips just laid on the background and in the Instagram version they were affixed but I had used the class photo to ensure things were in pretty much the same position so I was a bit puzzled

over to Instagram to have a look I saw immediately that the image had posted upside down 

odd how that one small thing can change a work so much

to be honest I wonder about version 3, which does not exist... I like the orientation of the marks in the first image and the collage in the second 

good thing everything is in place and can't be fiddled with

yesterday I started playing with beach finds

today I'm taking photos of driftwood to have a close-up look at some of the interesting marks on the surfaces

and I am NOT looking at anything to do with driftwood online!

Saturday, February 12, 2022

a beginning

there's a picture of me as a child, at my favourite place in the whole world: Marsh Lake, Yukon, on the beach

I'm wearing my favourite green coat (it had a hood and I loved hoods on coats) and I am standing on the beach in front of the cabin

I remember that day, it was very cool but I was toasty warm - we were getting ready to go home, the car was being packed up, and I went to the beach to say goodbye

I always did that, right before we went, filling myself with the look and sound of the water 

I'm beginning a new body of work borne of that place - not sure what I want to make, what the focus will be... not sure of anything really except that it must be of there

and this is always my struggle

what to do when nothing in particular is speaking to me

what to work with when the same holds true for my materials

fabric, stitch, paint???

the other day, whilst browsing instagram, I came upon a post by an artist showing a glimpse of a sketchbook full of tiny collages - 100 of them, to be exact

the challenge, to do them all in a day


the whole idea of it was so tantalizing though - one would have to work so quickly in order to complete 100 in a day - no time to overthink or get in a dither over which fabric, what paper, put it here or put it there?

just do it

I thought it would be a great way to quickly record some of what speaks to me about the lake, a kickstart if you will - surely out of 100 little collages there would be many that would help give me some direction

I spent a couple of days planning and gathering and on Tuesday I began

of course the first thing I observed was the realization there was no way I could do 100 in a day

I wanted to stitch mine, not glue them and stitching is much slower than gluing, just threading the needles takes up many minutes of each hour

and then of course, there had to be embroidery

no matter, I would do what I could and continue on another day, and if need be, another after that

the first twelve were based on water, then I went on to driftwood

as they were completed I placed them face down on a piece of paper and jotted down a word or two that had come to mind whilst working on it

they're not titles, per se, more reminders of what I was trying to capture

I've written those words beneath each as they are mounted in my book - they not only speak to me of the lake, they also take me back to the making of the collage itself and what was running through my mind at that time


the collages are tiny, not more than 1 1/4" x 2 1/4"

big enough to capture a thought, little enough be done quickly



some are exceptionally simple, marks on paper, not a collage at all, but they don't have to be...

as long as they tell me a story


wild roses


I'm making twelve for each subject and when I'm finished there will be 108 in total

at the moment there are almost 80 in my book - shown here are less than half of what I have already done, but there's enough inspiration and ideas in these images to keep me busy for a long time to come

when completely finished I'll sit and reflect a bit on what I've done... what I like, which ones tell it best

and then I'll work to develop the ideas further

 add to the story

refine my thinking

 try new ways of expression

and find my way home

Friday, February 4, 2022

inspiration perfection

last fall I discovered a UK artist whose work I fell in love with

she works with dried flowers, hundreds of thousands of them, and makes the most breath-taking displays

I have always loved dried flowers... every summer there are bunches hanging upside down here and there,  inside the house and garage, drying for winter's enjoyment 

her work makes me want to rip out all the grass and just plant flowers

 and then along came the sketchbook prompt for Day 10... 

 "Steal Like An Artist"

in other words, use the work of someone you admire as a jumping off point for the making of your own

be inspired by it but don't copy

I struggled with this as I very much do not want to copy anyone though there are certainly times I see something in a piece of art that sparks an idea

{An interesting aside to this is something that has been happening to me more and more of late... I'll be scrolling through Instagram and see something amazingly brilliant - a twist or turn on the usual that is fresh, inventive and gets me all fired up... I grab my reading glasses to get a closer look at how they did it only to find out that what I thought I saw and what is actually on the screen are two very different things. It turns out my terrible eyesight has provided me with a brilliant way of being inspired and no theft involved!}

anyway, whilst casting about for who to "steal" from and not wanting to do this with anyone I actually know, I remembered Rebecca's work and thought I would choose an image I like and begin there...

ethereal, delicate, subtle in both form and colour, a beautiful play of light and shadow

inspiration perfection 

I began in the sketchbook, bright white smooth paper a perfect foundation

watercolour paint in purple and grey... lots of water... smooshing and scumbling away

fragments of lace painted in white and pale grey pressed on top

it didn't work very well until I started rolling the shaft of the paintbrush over the lace to really press the paint on to the paper

when that dried I took a floral stencil and scraped Golden brand Fibre Paste thickly over top, giving the look of plaster flowers and leaves trailing down the page

a good start with lots to look at and think about

today I took the page out of the sketchbook intending to cut it up but in the end I just placed it to the side and began to work on a separate sheet of acrylic paper - the texture of the paper resembles cloth and the softer white a perfect match for some other papers I had prepared 

diluted carbon black ink painted on vellum, a torn strip from a letter, the pieces of painted lace and a piece of either gesso or matte medium, or maybe even heavy-body acrylic paint... (more likely a combination of all three) that I had put onto parchment paper instead of a palette to use in something I was making; when I was cleaning up the next day I found the leftovers had dried and loosened from the parchment - it looked interesting so I kept it but wish I had written down somewhere what it was

I wanted something white with a branch-like texture so I found some very thin tissue paper, tore strips and layered them onto parchment paper using cmc as a glue, pushing the tissue paper here and there with a paint brush to form delicate ridges and lines

underneath the painted lace are threads I saved from when I tore and cut it, they are just dropped on here to scatter as they would

I though the piece second from the right above was too straight at the top and bottom edges so I tore it again

new, improved version below

much as I like the torn letter strip I thought it really didn't belong so I removed it, added another tissue strip on the right and extended that with a smaller piece of the dried mystery product

below, that small bit of mystery product on the lower right is now removed

I've tacked a few pieces in place with a dab from a glue stick and will attach everything in the coming days - it's a good start but the colour is missing

and although I looked at my painted inspiration piece whilst doing this I hadn't used any of it so I took the painted lace and dropped it on there to see how that looked

 I loved it

so much so that now the wheels are turning yet again and where I am with this today may not turn out to be where I stay