Edgy Collage by Bernie Stephanus

I gotta tell ya. There's nothing I like better than to sink my eyes into some seriously edgy artwork. And if the edge stuff is collage work, it really stops me in my tracks.
Today I came across the work of Berni Stephanus, a collage artist of massive proportions. A plethora of mixed media work, including both painting and collage can be found on his site. Upon reading the comments on his website about collage I was ready to agree with his explanation:
"I call my works mutations or grafts because I want to realise impossible transplantations in a different way than the cubists, dadaists and surrealists. I focalize on the borders between the pieces in order to obtain a real graft. For me it's like my brain is working, trying to make sense out of all impressions, souvenirs, sensations ..."
What and excellent way to describe the process of collage. Grafting. It makes me think of the organic process of grafting in agriculture, making a branch grow where it didn't before.
"And the fact that the grafts are visible (instead of smoothening the picture) shows the fracture and in the same time the healing since the whole functions as a coherent picture."

I also feel this compulsion to savor the edges of collage work. Some of the most interesting things about collage revolve around the treatment of edges. Some artists go for a stark contrast between colors and textures. Others nurture the edges like a suture...and take special pains to create smooth transparent transitions.

One of the most fascinating things about Mr. Stephanus' work is his ability to create such a unique effect by combining painting with small bits of collage elements. His series, Massacres, is amazingly detailed, extremely emotional and graphic as literal hell. I love it.
Abraham, painting with collage,108x130cm, 2001
This man has done a lot of collage work. I am serious. There are over 1800 collage works on his site, and the number grows daily. I was very impressed at his deep exploration of his own new technique. Inspiring stuff.


Landscape Containment Unit

Landscape Containment Unit
Originally uploaded by misphit
This is an example of something new I am working on. This piece isn't quite complete, however enough is there to get the idea.
Certainly it's a departure from my usual fill the paper mode.....leaving white showing in a more graphic type of image.
I wonder, can you still tell it's done by me?? Does my style show through, no matter what style I use?

Change of Pace

As you may already know if you read this blog, I have been working on changing my style a bit, and challenging my own creativity. This is so much easier than it sounds. I can't explain how odd it is to create work that's "different" from what you are used to doing. I stare at it, and try to resolve the piece, and inside my brain is saying "WHAT is THAT? You need to put something over there...you need to do this you need to do THAT!!!" My brain WANTS to go the same route, portray things the way it has already learned to do so. Because of this, the new stuff looks so utterly strange, and I am learning to leave it that way. It's supposed to look different, stupid, that's the idea!
I was approached by someone recently about doing some pieces of artwork on the theme of "predictions" for a book soon to be published. The theme had some specific points that I was to attempt to address in my artwork. This, I felt, was the golden opportunity of change that I had been waiting for. I have a theme I have to address, and I have to use my left brain in order to conjure up symbols and images that can relay the message that my right brain has to carry out. My left brain/right brain switch sometimes get a bit sticky and it's hard to let one half rest so the other half can do it's job properly. But, the point of this post is to try to describe how adversely my brain reacts to the changing look and feel of my artwork. At first, I am almost repulsed, and I immediately start falling into my old collage habits (have you noticed a pattern to your art creating? I have. And now that I have done literally hundreds of collage work, those patterns are starting to go deep!) I can make this look "right" by adding this, or changing that. But at this moment, I am resisting the urge to go where I always go. So I have ignored my brain, and tried to just let it be. I have done 5 pieces so far where I am trying to head in new directions. Out of the first 4, I liked the end result of only 2. And on the 5th I really am just sitting on it, leaving it alone for a few days, rather than finish it or go back to old habits.
I guess its just a matter of training my brain that YES< these are GOING to look funky. That's the idea. There may be another 50 pieces that go by looking weird before my brain starts to think that my new look is "normal".
I wonder. After this exercise, will it still be so easy to sink into my old art habits? OR will my new habits start to take over?


The Image Collections of Goofbutton

I Can't Be Hypnotized — 9 x 11
There's a site called goofbutton where Jeffrey Meyer has posted a whole bunch of interesting visual collections. In addition to a lot of his own personal collage and comic artwork, Meyer has put together groups of related images. They are in various categories, such as scientific drawings, or typography. They are intereresting as possible collage ephemera, but I also find these working for me as standalone pieces. There is nice unity in these pieces.

A couple of examples of Goofbutton image collections


Nu-real : a timeline of fantastic photomontage

Photomontage work is full of such possibility. The layering of photos to create various Throughout time, a progression of style has brought forth a vast variety of creative work.

nu-real : a timeline of fantastic photomontage and its possible influences, 1857 - 2007

This site has a really great pictorial timeline depicting the history of photomontage. Included are images that portray various movements and geographical differences over time. I really liked this site because of its stylish design. I like sideways scrolling, it is a change from the norm. A lot of time was spent culling this vast array of works. I appreciate all that effort!! Max Ernst Collages, bauhaus, belgian collage, Magritte, Joseph Cornell and several great collage artists are shown along with the part they played in the history of photomontage. This site is worth your time for a peek!


ARTpjm is a French site that has a wealth of collage information. A lot of the pages are translated and an English version is provided. The gallery has lots of collage work, too. But the most fascinating thing about this site was the seriously technical descriptions that were provided about the topic of adhesion. Techniques are varied, and materials are even more varied. The Artpjm site had some discussion regarding the physical principles behind the act of creating a sticking bond. I was really amazed at the technicality of these pages, altho I will need to meditate on it to see how it can help me in my work. Visiting the Art pjm site will be worth your while.
I have hesitated to talk much about materials on this blog, but after I received an email from Laura noting her interest in the topic, and the comment on yesterdays post leading to a wealth of information on materials, I decided it was time to look into the ways and means of collage work. Sharing of expertise in this area may be a big help to all collage artists.
Personally, I use a lot of strange things and not all of them like to be attached to each other!!! How about a potato chip bag? It's composed of a foil-like substance and it's designed to keep air and germs away from your chips. It is not porous in any sense, and yet I am wanting to use it's reflective qualities on my piece. At this point I have to go into the glue decision mode and decide how it's going to stick. I'll make a choice, and if that doesn't work, I go ahead and attempt something else. That's part of the challenge!

The Waiting
Mixed Media Collage
12.5 x 19 on Yupo Acrylic, sheet music, wallpaper, childrens stickers, vintage sewing kit, dill potato chip bag, Korean dried seaweed bag, vintage handwritten letters, vintage photo, magazine clips


Exene Cervenka - She's a Collage Artist too?

Grace • 2007 • mixed media on canvas panel • 12 x 9" UF; 15 1/2 x 12 3/4" F

Excene Cervenka...perhaps you know her from her musical career with the band X. I found her work today on the DCKT website. She does beautiful collage....colorful, works using later period ephemera. There are the expected hidden message in her work. I really was liking the piece "Princess Die". Great play on words for a title. I also liked the title for "Grace". Looking at the subject matter in the piece, it's really a superb statement.

Princess Die • 2006 • mixed media collage • 24 x 20"

She has a hardcover book called
Magical Meteorite Songwriting Device filled with more of her rich imagery. I also found a book called America the Beautiful, which is loaed with poetry and her collage work. I am intrigued. There is more info on her own site, and some beautiful scans of her collage work on DCKT.


David Brady: Fearless Leaders

"The Moment", 2007, (detail) mixed media with found objects and oil on canvas, 21x41x2"

The topic of our leaders is something that invites a wealth of imagery. David Brady has been participating in an exhibition going on in Culver City at the Whole9 Gallery since November. "Fearless Leaders" brings you the perspective of 4 artists, David Brady, Mark Acetelli, Dan Trantino, and Kayne Young.
This show wraps up soon and ends on Jan. 19, that's Saturday! West coast folks may want to check this out!

Inner Strength 2007 (detail) mixed media with found object on canvas, 15 x 24"

The Whole 9 Gallery
6101 Washington Blvd. (3 blks west of La Cienega)
Culver City, CA 90232
Mon-Fri: 10-6
Sat: 2-5 pm
Phone Lisa Schultz at: 310-836-4603

Collage Clearinghouse Cleans House

Hanging in the Balance —The latest piece for the Sharon Springs DK Project
Something to decorate this post!

There are so many little things that I can do within my own websites and blogs in order to make it easier for both myself and readers. Finding the time for this petty stuff seems like a waste, but when I compare blogs and features, I find myself lacking!
I have been trying to organize the blog a bit today. I went back to all my previous posts and tried to cull links in order to create a more helpful link list. On the sidebar is a growing list of collage related websites, and also a list of collage blogs. The blog list seems small...I probably have to spend more time paying attention to what I am viewing and keep this updated. I also tried to list a few collage-friendly galleries. Hopefully this will improve your collage clearinghouse blog experience and make it easier to use all this info!


12 Tales of the Forest Book 1—Free Download

12 Tales of the Forest Book 1—JULIE SADLER

Have you ever wanted to inexpensively reproduce a small group of your art and do it creatively at the same time? The One Page Book is the answer!
There is an intriguing folding format that allows you to create your own little book with big impact. The one-page-book utilizes only one side of the paper, keeping your printing costs down. With it's 8 tiny pages, the one-page-book could be the perfect vehicle for expressing yourself. The folding isn't that difficult to describe, and the result is a great book ready to move your message into the hands of those you chose.
A few years ago, I saw this format in The Gleaner, a great little zine that is spearheaded by Sherylynne. Immediately I recognized it's potential for a cheap little book product. Printing can get expensive and this little book only requires printing on one side. I did a series called The Fig., which were 8 little books based on architectural figure drawings and sold them on magikglasses. They are silly little books but I loved the easy and creative folding format, and who can resist opening up a tiny book? There are a precious few left. If you are interested in obtaining a copy email me about it.
A couple of weeks ago, Lalande Digital Press started promoting the one-page-book and they posted some fabulous examples. Matthew Rose created IT WAS A VERY BAD YEAR, the first in his series from Falling Boy Books.


Musicmaster & John Bennett created JOW. And the latest example was done by Fred Griot, a poet and artist living in France.


They have got a great idea over there at Lalande, promoting the one-page-book as a marketing tool to be distributed as needed for your share-your-art-needs! I like the idea!
I have been working on a new series of my own. It is called 12 Tales of the Forest. It is 12 mini tales that are based on the woods and forest creatures. Each month I will make one of these books available for download. You can print these out at home and create your own set of 12 one page books. Book Number 1, Winter Velvet Snow Storm is available for download this month. This is a 2 page pdf, with full color artwork on page 1, and the complete folding directions on page 2.
Download Book 1 —Winter Velvet Snow Storm Here


Drawing on the Artist Within

I picked up this book, Drawing on the Artist Within, by Betty Edwards, after reading a comment about it somewhere on an art blog. I was already familiar with her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and this book suggested some really interesting ideas about the act of drawing.
Drawing on the Artist Within is more about increasing creativity and it's really pretty interesting. There is an exercise somewhere in the middle that I performed the other night and I thought it was worth mentioning.
She tells you to take a piece of paper and fold it into eighths. You label each of the 8 sections with various emotions, such as anger, peacefulness, etc.. You are to draw using lines (no pictures, no symbols, think analog!) and express the emotion. So I do this. I sat there for about 15 minutes and drew. Next, you compare your drawings with other people's examples in the book. This is where the stunning part happens. Amazingly enough, the drawings are quite similar. Your drawing of peace looks sort of like my drawing of peace!! I think this is an astounding thing, and a great personal discovery.
This means that underneath our layers of words and speech, looks and fashion, nationalities and religions, we all understand and "speak" the same visual language. That is so empowering!! What a confidence builder! It means that when I sit down to do a piece of artwork, and I want to share my feelings of loneliness and emptiness, there's a good chance that if I "listen" to my inner voice when placing objects on the page, I will be able to convey that message to you. Listening to the voice is key though, and it's easy to let other things sneak in and influence what you put in a given piece of art. That must be the "work" part of art. It's work to keep focused on your own idea, your own reflection and your own voice.


A peak at the New Stuff

For these 2 pieces I was looking for a New Look. I wanted something entirely different than what I normally do. The rules I set up for myself were...photos and paints, inks only. No ephemera.
On this first one I did follow my own rules, but I included pen and ink trees, and that's sort of cheating. A lot of my pieces have trees--probably too many pieces have trees!...so I didn't entirely break out of the box. I sort of like this one tho.

I decided to post these 2 pieces that are driving me crazy. This first one actually is complete at this point...I apologize for the lousy pic, I used the camera instead of scanning, and the middle column has light reflection issues. These were done on Yupo, and handling the pen, ink and acrylic was a bit more challenging than usual. My own commentary would be that the deer and owl are a bit lame...I could blame it on the paper, but instead I will fault my own skills at painting, drawing...(And, just to note it, I wanted a fox in there too. Not sure I am wanting to put him in there tho.) There's a huge reason behind the deer leaping out of the architecture. You see, one day I was there at the empty bath houses in Sharon Springs to paint. I sat there for 3 hours or so painting on a cold day in April. After I was done, I got up and walked around the inside of the decaying building. Way in the back, laying and stinking on the ground was a dead deer carcass. This scared the crap out of me! I stayed away for 3 months (mostly waiting for it to decay the rest of the way). This pic was an attempt to infuse my work with meaning. Unfortunately, only I know the deer story, and well, now you do too!

This second yellow one, the photo really sux, sorry...The bottom is more saturated with yellow than this photo shows. This one REALLY has me stuck! I have not done much to it, it's at the "I hate this piece" stage. I want to add pen and ink to the bottom portions...but I wonder if it's worth my time. I have tried tipping this one upside down, and sideways too...and no matter what it bugs me. It may just be a trash experiment, but I feel as tho I let myself down on it a) by not finishing it, and b) for not liking it! Not only that, I didn't follow the rules about ephemera. However, I did no trees on this one, just plant leaves!
I don't know what to think of these. I just need to keep on trying new things, eventually it may start to feel "right".


Lady DK

Lady DK
Originally uploaded by misphit
My art studio is divided at this point. There are these 2 really different and graphic works that I am trying to work with...the new stuff, the ones where I go away from my comfort zone. Those are rattling me and I am not quite done with either of them. It has been causing me a mild bit of anxiety, those So-New pieces. I just want to do art because I want to and let it come out, whatever it may be. I decided to let myself do a few kinds of works side by side. I allowed myself to enter the comfort zone and do what I wanted to for today. This piece built itself. Maybe now I can get back to completing those other 2 challenging pieces!!

How is this piece appropriate for my day? Does it have any kind of feeling that anyone else can recognize? Outside the trees look very much like those in the photo, very spidery and skeletal. Their is a swirling to them...the girl, well that's probably me looking out the window staring at it all. I heard an owl the other day and so did my friend. Seemed like the totem to place on my shoulder. Why is she Lady DK, well that's because I used pieces from a really shabby agricultural bulletin from 1898! It was all about pests, with great pics of caterpillars and decaying plants. That's me, always fascinated with the Decay, the DK...She's sort of regal looking, and I am feeling above it all today, above the stress of life, work and self-imposed art restrictions and obligations.


Mister Rose's ABC- A Must Have

I have written about Matthew Rose in previous posts and I am a serious fan of his work. He is a collagist living in France, and his work is sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, but always quality. I was lucky enough to meet him last summer at his show at Gallery-In-The-Field in Vermont. He's a busy and inspiring guy, both a writer and an artist, and his latest project is a sweet combination of both talents, an ABC book. His book was printed by Lalande Digital Art Press in Paris, and is of the quality one would expect from the collaboration of a printer and artist interested in personal presentation of artwork. Matthew Rose is a master with gouache and he creates the most gorgeous crackling effects--I really love this about his artwork. I am impressed that Mister Rose's ABC book shows the surface of the artwork with such detail.

Peppered with Mr. Roses' dazzling stylish images and poetic words that are as colorful as the pages, this book is a treasure for young and old. I was more than amused at the wording he chose for some of the letters, "V is for Vicky, a vivacious Volcano, sometimes she's vapid, but she's always vacationing. Vicky's my Valentine!" hilarious!
I ordered my books from Matthew, and promptly was rewarded with some good laughs. You can get a copy by emailing Mr. Rose here..But I suggest you don't wait! They are selling like hotcakes!!


Creative Life in Progress

Russell Smith is a collage artist living out in Seattle. He has a blog called CreativeLifeInProgress...where he posts a vast variety of collage art. I am intrigued by his work. There appears to me to be 2 separate developing styles in his pieces. I found many involved pieces which contained a lot of texture, some monochrome, but not all. There is a lot of line and movement and I really liked some of these monochrome pieces a lot.

Leaning Toward The Lemon Light • Green Galaxy Pop Dimension

Woman in Mid-Century Modern Room, with foliage on the ceiling.
I also found these more illustrative collages on his blog. These are great! The title I really liked and the fact that there was foliage on the ceiling was somehow normal and satisfying to me! I thought of Hannah Hoch...and I don't know, but the retro furniture gave me a strangely comforting feeling. Nice piece.
He posts often and there's more to see here.

COPYSHOP - The Art Gallery of Knoxville


The Art Gallery of Knoxville has a really cool site up that challenges the way we think about copyright and cultural property. The site is kinda insane with a flash interface with floating layers of text, information and imagery. Check out the block of text about Marcel Duchamp on the home page. It's excellent. I am still exploring the vast amount of stuff on this site or I could write more about it. I recommend you check it out for yourself.
Some teasers:
"The Art Gallery of Knoxville is dedicated to new and emerging Art. It is an open space to cultivate ideas of Art and social engagement."
"COPYSHOP is a place where you can copy everything. In COPYSHOP you will find products that challenge intellectual property. They can be modified originals, improved copies, political anti-brands. -or a SUPERCOPY as new as the original."
"COPYSHOP is a franchise model for likeminded shops all over the world.
We are interested in working with groups and spaces to develop products for COPYSHOP, host mobile versions of COPYSHOP, and create franchise opportunities for the installation of COPYSHOP in other communities."
If you live in Knoxville, there is "Pirate Cinema Knoxville" showing every Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. The Grand Opening is tomorrow night!
The Art Gallery of Knoxville • 317 N. Gay St., Knoxville, TN 27917

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.