Collage Comments by Elbow-Toe

Chalice Begonia 2008
Charcoal and acrylic paint mounted on reclaimed lumber on birch support
35 x 46 inches

Was reading some of the blog posts on Elbow-Toe's blog today and came across a very inspiring and sage comment he made regarding collage. I really enjoy it when an artist speaks about how the process of art affects them.
Here is a short quote...but I really feel it's right to go to his blog and read the rest!

"The collage works are as much about the process as they are about the finished product. Every mark is a comment on the emotional presence of the model, descriptive as well as gestural."

Isn't this true? I luv luv luv the feeling I get while I am creating collage. It's not the same as painting, because I am constantly forced to go left-brain/right-brain as I sift through ephemera for the correct components. It ends up being a very intuitive process and after I finish a piece of artwork, I can find subtle hidden references and layers that my subconscious was filling in for me while I worried about color and line!
Art. It isn't always about the money. It really isn't! For the artist, at least. The money portion is just the necessary evil required to buy more art supplies.


I hate decision making

My show is coming up and it's time for some decision making. I have to choose the pieces that are going to hang. I have to match them up with the frames I have. I have to purchase mat board for them. And finally, I need to professionally frame the work. (Oh sheesh! I almost forgot the Pricing!!! AAAARRrrgghh!!!) Can I run away now?
There's the Sharon Springs DK series in which most all the pieces are 11 x 14 landscape and I want to include several of these.
There's a humungous pile of 16 x 20 frames stacked nice and neat behind my drafting table. I have been saving these for a couple of years now just for this purpose. At least 15 vintage frames, all the proper size for the Sharon Springs series. But they vary in design. One is mahogany with grain painting, one has elaborate metal frames with filigree borders, one is white and huge and made with architectural elements. It's a huge puzzle to figure out which piece will be enhanced best by which artwork. and then the mat board color. grrrrr.
Decision making is NOT my strong point!
The Sharon Springs DK will only take up half of the gallery. There's a little alcove in which I am setting up a computer with a projector. In this little room my Sharon Springs movies will play in a loop on the wall.
There will be a large dressing screen made of vintage green round-top shutters that will divide the gallery ...down the middle. On both sides of the screen will be the food tables and alcohol (for the opening anyhow) In the front windows I have 2 sculpture pieces that will display.
The other half of the gallery is the part I am still thinking about. I need to select maybe 15 - 20 random works and figure out how they will be displayed. For this group, I have to find frames still. My man owns an antique shop, so I won't have too much trouble finding them, luckily. But again, it's the decision making. HOW do I choose these works? By color? Theme? Pick the ones I like? Pick the ones that have done the best on flickr?
Can you tell I have some indecision here?


Old Vin

Old Vin
Originally uploaded by misphit
This piece is another attempt to integrate photographs in my work. I have mentioned that I am seeking a new direction. I am trying to remove as much extraneous ephemera as possible and boil my work down to more simple shapes. This particular work was a product of melding what I have been doing in the past with the new things I am doing. I relaxed a bit on the ephemera and allowed the box top and the random scrap to accent this piece.
The title is a joke I have with myself. I had removed the label from a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin (which went down rather smoothly...) and afterwards I had forgotten the name and started calling it Old Vin, hence the title.

My own personal critique on this one:
The acrylic colors are rockin' and I liked that a lot. The green gold overlay on the red transparent iron oxide worked nicely. It almost glows. I think perhaps these colors may be complementary?
The bottom white pieces I regret, but I didn't want to remove or cover them. This is the weakest portion in the work. I added the stepladder pieces on the bottom instead to help it. I still stare at that portion and may end up covering it with something black.
The stencil effect was further enhanced by placement of decorative elements and photos. I really like how that turned out! Makes up for the bottom. (if i could only stop staring at it.)
All in all, worth framing for my show.



I recently have had the opportunity to join a nicely executed online art gallery and portfolio website called Culturehall. The creator and founder of Culturehall, David Frey, found typical online gallery sites lacking when he was searching for his own needs. With a vision in mind, he spent 6 years learning the ins and outs of web publishing, and then focused his energies on building the site he was looking for. Culturehall is fairly new on the web scene, launched in June of 2008. The site is targeting serious early and mid career artists that are looking for an active art community and an online portfolio. The interface is clean and sleek, and I have had an easy time of setting up my own pages and creating a nice web portfolio. There is a critique feature that I really like, where artists can discuss specific aspects of artworks. I think we all could help ourselves by helping each other.
I've had a chance to converse a bit more in detail with David via email about Culturehall. He had some interesting things to say. Our online interview went as follows:

CC: Every artist who spends a bunch of time uploading work to a website wonders what advantages this will give them. What work gets done behind the scenes @ Culturehall for publicity? What online artist sites (not blogs) have been especially cooperative in terms of networking?

DF: Beyond the website itself being a great tool for artists to gain an audience, culturehall presents artist's catalogs and other materials submitted by members at various venues. In the past year we have participated in the Fountain Art Fair both in Miami and New York. Culturehall also took part in Conflux which is a festival exploring psychogeography - the intersection of technology, art and public urban space. Members also are contacted regarding the occasional call for artwork that we receive for events and things like TV shows.

CC: Competition for online galleries has to be high. There are so many of them. I feel as tho I end up porting most of my things from flickr to the various art sites, and I have to admit it feels tedious to do this. At first, I signed up for everything I was offered. But at this point, I don't have that kind of time and I must remain choosy. What things can an artist find at Culturehall that they cannot find elsewhere?

DF: Unlike most other art portfolio websites, culturehall is curated and selective about what is included. We offer an online portfolio community to the artist who often has recently finished his or her studies or is a few years out of art school. The majority of the Artists presenting work on culturehall are invited. While we are open to applications, each applicant is considered not only for their current body of work, but for their overall portfolio and fit within the community. The way an artist can display work is also unique to culturehall. The system was built from scratch to be as friendly as possible for presenting all forms of art, whether it be paintings, performances, videos or audio works. Artists can choose to mix different kinds of media together (images, video and audio) to not only describe an artwork, but its context, details, etc.

CC: I notice your site has only one major banner ad. What are your opinions about advertising on a social site? Are you opposed to advertising on Culturehall? Are any plans in the works to add the ability for artists to buy ad space?

DF: Ideally Culturehall and other social networking sites would be free of advertisements. Unfortunately there are real costs associated with keeping these environments going and sponsorships or advertising is one method of generating income. Culturehall is selective in the sponsor based content included in the website. It is a concern to us not only to keep the look and feel of culturehall inline with our ideals, but the products or events that are being offered need to be analogous with our mission. We do not use automated advertising and work with sponsors to make sure their presence on culturehall is harmonious with what our artists present. We are open to the idea of allowing artists to sponsor Culturehall, but we have not been actively promoting this feature.

CC: I really like the toolbox, and the fact that you can immediately see the hits on your works. I think it's a great tool to help artists figure out which works are the most popular. I have not seen any critiques on my work yet. But I understand it's difficult to sit and seriously critique work. Without the benefit of facial features, it's hard to be sure your comments come across as constructive, and not judgmental. Do you have any feedback on the critique feature? Is there a way to promote more discussion?

DF: For me, having the critical feedback of my professors and peers was one of the most valuable parts of studying art and something that I really miss after leaving school. Critiques on Culturehall are meant to be a way to share ideas and pose questions. Often it is very difficult to find someone with a similar vision to share ideas and one of the Internet's great strengths is how it can connect people with similar and very focused interests. In many ways I think the term "critique" is a bit too formal for what this forum attempts. But we felt it was necessary to differentiate the intent of this format from the usual "comments" sections which often devolve into "Love the color!" postings. While it would be great to have artists write paragraphs about each other's work, critiques are meant to be a few sentences long. Long enough to intelligently convey an idea or pose a interesting question. An important side note about Culturehall critiques is how it allows members to promote their work. The member posting the critique has the option of promoting one of their works to the top of the "browse" list along with the critiqued work as if these works had just been added. Artworks appearing on the first few pages of the "browse" section are seen many more times.

CC: I have series of works and a lot of time they are in groups. While putting up my images, I didn't see any kind of feature for saving sets of work. It would be nice to be able to give an explanation about your thoughts regarding a series... Is there a workaround for this? Or am I totally missing something?

DF: When initially developing Culturehall, I wanted to concentrate on artworks individually. Generally artworks do exist within a series or other context, but for implementation it was a balance of how best to present an artwork and at that time keeping each freestanding made the most sense. A few ideas are under consideration about how to present series or groups, but we will be giving them more thought before adding this functionality. Regarding a workaround, some artists are using one artwork as a series and then adding multiple media pages to the work, with each page acting as an individual piece of art in that series. I'm not opposed to this solution, but it is not ideal for the artist as this system does not allow each of the works to be presented when visitors are browsing Culturehall.

CC: I have 2 websites, 3 blogs, and I post on flickr. In addition, I belong to a few other artist gallery sites. I would love examples from other artists on how they use your site to benefit their publicity or art career. Have you received feedback from artists on how they use Culturehall to promote their work?

DF: I feel your pain! Culturehall is meant to be a very specific forum for artists. An easy and efficient way to promote their artworks online in a professional manner with other like minded individuals. Directly I know that a few artists have had success with being included in shows from curators finding their work on Culturehall. Also one of our artists was the subject of a documentary short which was a direct result of his membership. Many of our members use their Culturehall portfolios as an effective way to drive traffic back to their private portfolio websites since they can add links to their Culturehall pages. We also have members who do not have their own websites and are using their culturehall portfolio as their primary artistic presence online.

CC: Any special plans for the future of Culturehall?

DF: Nothing specific, but I would like Culturehall to become more involved with our local community. I don't really see the website being an end in itself, but a great way to bring together people who have an interest in contemporary art.

If you think Culturehall may be a good fit for your artwork, I encourage you to visit the Culturehall site.


Poster in progress

Poster in progress
Originally uploaded by misphit
I have to admit it's been too long since I was on the studio table. I felt rusty, out of place....slow. Unimaginative, robotic but foreign, and LOST. When I was a musician, my mom and dad always told me practice practice practice. And after that, practice some more! I think there may be some truth to this in art also! The longer I am away from my work,the more difficult it becomes to break ruts and trends. (I think that was exactly my goal. I am trying to go a different direction and old habits are dying hard!)
This wekeend I went to the pile o' undone stuff, and found this crazy stencil I did WAY back. I didn't like it at the time, and in fact I was quite burned out on the whole Sharon Springs subject and desperately I wanted to move on. So this sat on the shelf all this time, and this weekend it called out to me.
I need a poster for my upcoming solo show. This show will have a lot of my Sharon Springs stuff in it, and since they haven't been formally shown yet, it's quite a big deal. I want the poster to be in the same style as most of the works being shown. Since I am trying hard to do some vastly different things lately, going back to previous way of thinking was really difficult. I just sat there and stared. I managed to get it together, but there was no little internal thrill when it was done, no skipping around the studio exhilarated or anything... I like the piece, but somehow, it just doesn't scream at me. I am hoping to make a good show poster out of it, regardless.


The Day the Book Came

Today the book arrived, early! I ended up having to stay home from work on a most gorgeous and sunny Friday ....boo hoo, i fakely sob!!!
They sent the book FEDEX! No wonder it was 10 bucks for shipping. I imagine Blurb has to do it that way in order to keep it all paperworked, ya know, like making people sign for the packages and all that tracking number b.s... I had to suck up the cost for this round. I can't see printing a bunch of books without a proof! Hello!?? I worked for a union Litho printer! Ya gotta proof it!
And lo and behold there was one funky page that the type was not as clear. I must've saved it wrong or something cuz the rest of the book was really sweet. It's such a nice ego rush to see your little storybook all professional and glossy. Now I need to do some math in order to figure out just how many I need to order (and then sell!) to be able to make the money back on the shipping. And then there's that little thing called profit. Isn't there?


Celestiathon on Blurb

The Blurb process is complete and my book is done...and for sale!!!
This was quite a learning experience on just how much of an annoying perfectionist I can be!
I had the art completed from when I did the Bakers Dozen for Cecil a few months ago. I really wanted to make a little storybook from these pieces. So already I had 12 pages I could use.
I figured on putting the titles of the artwork in massive scripts on the opposing pages. This would give me 24 total pages. I made matching backgrounds on Yupo, but I didn't add too much in the way of ephemera, and used the computer to add the words. This whole process went pretty smooth.
Until I previewed the book.
It was the front matter that wigged me out. There's a title page, an intro, a cover, a back cover....More pages than I was ready for. I tried so hard to cheat! I had used nice script on the main portion of the book, and on the title page and intro I tried to use the fonts available thru Blurb instead--like Helvetica or something. I ended up back at the studio table to create artwork pages for these. Then there was the cover. I had grabbed a plain jane watercolor background and simply added my script title, but no collage.
Time to preview. Looks GOOD! Lets get this over with at last!
Yay! I was ready to upload and finally order my book! I pushed the upload button. And stared at the bogus quicky cover job I just did on the screen while it uploaded away. Hell. I am a collage artist, and there's no collage on the cover? How will I draw anyone in to look at this book with such a plain cover? I imagined me looking at my wondrous book and wanting to rip off the lamo cover upon arrival. I am going to pay for a bogus covered book???!@#%#$%@#$%!!!!! AAARRRrrrggh!> I cancelled the upload. Back to the studio AGAIN for cover creation.
So I am happy to report that all these trial runs, these crazy previews, they all have made me aware of the quality of the book.
I am awaiting my proof copy. I didn't want to order a quantity or anything till I saw the colors and the quality of the type. I will report back when I have it in my hands, probably end of next week. Seems like a long turnaround time, tho. I uploaded this on last Friday, and the order won't ship till the 13th. And I didn't pay for slick shipping either, but it still cost me more than 10 bucks to have one paperback book shipped to me. That's a drag...but when I order a quantity, I can hopefully absorb the cost. They make the pricing pretty close to retail. I can't see myself making more than 3 - 5 bucks off each copy, making the public cost about 21.95 - 23.95. How much would YOU pay for a paperback art book??
And so, this completes another experience, another chapter in my own book o' life.

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.