"The Question"

Steven Specht here...
I finished this piece today. It was mostly finished for a while (the two holes with the man and woman). I knew I was going to put a third "hole" in it, but wasn't sure about what to do after that. I decided on the skeleton transfer. It's always a bit nerve-wracking for a collagist like me to place a transfer, because I never know exactly what it's going to look like until it is placed (and then it's too late to do something else). I like to have a little more control. But I think it turned out well. Then I thought I needed something in the upper left hand quadrant of the piece for "balance". I tried Saturn, but it was too dark (and thus not recessive enough). Then I looked at the piece matted and in its antique frame and I decided that although the piece isn't "balanced" per se, it "opens up" on the left and this actually enhances the "feel" of the piece. Glad to have this piece done (it's been around for a while) and happy to be fairly satisfied with it. BTW, it's 11.5" x 6". The question is... what is "The Question"? Enjoy.


"Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"

Steven Specht here...
Here's my latest piece (9.5 x 9.5"). I haven't been in the studio for a couple weeks because I have been busy with the beginning of a new semester and was at a conference in Louisville last week (that deserves its own post). Anyway, I'm pleased with this piece. In a way, it's the "opposite" of many of my other work in which I place color accents within a black-and-white (or muted palette). This piece features a colorful background with black-and-white accents. The "guys" were each individually cut and meticulously placed (that's what took the longest in this composition... by far). Enjoy!


Death Book of Beth Watson

Last semester in my Design Class at SUNY, I gave the students an altered book final. It's the second time I have given an altered book as the final, and I have been really psyched with the response I get from the students. The creativity and dedication to the project really shows in the books that are turned in.
One student of mine, Beth Watson, used Death as her theme and featured crows throughout the book. I'm such a crow fan and I  loved the idea and the way the book turned out so I offered to do a few pages in it over the holiday break.

The great colors and style in this piece really captures the mood of this book. 
Beth used a sketched tree with haunting crows as part of her theme, creating unity throughout her book.

The first spread I did in her book.  everybody - valley of death
 The second spread I did in her book.  black fur nest


RIP Mike Kelley

"GO: One thing that the Internet seems to be doing is eroding the idea of copyright and originality. People are just taking bits of things and using them in a very free way.
MK: That's great. And the corporate entertainment industry is trying to stop it from happening. Think about it: Andy Warhol could not have a career now. He would be sued every two seconds.
GO: It's given a lot of work to the lawyers.
MK: Copyright laws are terrible for culture. It's illegal to respond to the imagery that surrounds you; you're bombarded every minute of the day with mass-media sludge. It should be the opposite: Everybody should have to respond to it. This is what should be taught in the public school system.
William S. Burroughs should be a major role model: All students should be given tape recorders and cameras to constantly record the gray veil that surrounds them, so that they can recognize that it's even there-and manipulate it. Most people are not aware of the white noise they exist in. Tape recording and photography allowed people to become aware of what was invisible to them for the first time. We're surrounded by invisibility. That's what I think art can do-make things visible."



David Ball at Argot and Ochre Opens Tomorrow Nite

It was good of Daniel Rolnik to send me info about this artist. He is new to  me, as most are, since lately I am hibernating. I took a look at his site and was immediately moved by the deep colors. They are intense, and they grip the page to the very edges.  For a northerner like me engulfed in a monotone winter, these pieces were like medicine.
David was kind enough to send me this:

Tumult - 2011

Most of the work appears to be done mixed media, and then texture is added to compliment his initial thought. I love the way this makes the work seem half fantasy and half real. It's so difficult to achieve this, let me assure you, and he does it well.

"Pilgrim", David Ball ©2011. All Rights Reserved, Mixed Media on Panel. 24"x36" Sold/ Private Collection

I was scrolling along, and got color drunk. And then. I saw these. Fabulous. Pieces. That just moved me beyond the beyond. It's the winter palette. MOST exquisite. I loved this piece and the muted colors. His work is really cool. Personally, I think it reeks of masculinity. And that's a good thing ... since I usually am engulfed in my own female-ness. (does that sound sexist? I don't mean it so)

"Split", David Ball ©2011. All Rights Reserved. Mixed Media on Paper. 22" x 30"
Lucky for you, west coast person, since you can see this stuff up close and personal at 111 Minna in San Fran at the Harum Scarum exhibit. This opens tomorrow nite!

Where I was, where I am

The path my collage work has taken throughout my artist life has been a strange one. At first, I was quite enamored with DADA and the accidental placement of odd objects against one another.
My work was blunt and simple and full of Hannah Hoch love.
As time went on, I discovered altered books, round robins and I went thru the Victorian phase. I used a lot of period imagery and gained skill at mixing my own artwork with others.

An intense period followed this, when I was fresh out of my divorce. I went into a deep exploration of layered textures, using anyting and everything that I could get my hands on and leaning less and less on my own artwork.

Since the David Hochbaum studio visit I have gone an entirely different route. I have used less and less external ephemera and have begun to fill in the space on my own. There are less works, but they seem more personal and meaningful.

Snow Moon -  2012
And so it was with great interest as I encountered the work of David Ball. Such rich canvases, filled with color...it was obviously fantasy...but with touches of realism in the collage elements. These pieces are speaking to me, although my style is vastly different from his. I want to honor him with his own post, and so that shall be.

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.