A new Year, A new Attitude

The studio cleanout is over. 
It took forever to go thru boxes and bookshelves of cut up paper! But it is done and at last I sit in a studio with some breathing room. The desktops are even visible.....Okay I lie. 2 of the desktops are visible. I think everything from both of those desks landed on the third one! C'mon! At least I have some surface to work with...
It's a lot like cleaning the kitchen. As soon as I get the dishes done, the counters clean, the floor swept I sit back and look at this gleaming area like a predator. Almost immediately I will want to bake bread, make cookies, or make a crazy intense spaghetti sauce or anything messy! I think my internal sense just can't stand empty areas. (right Steven? remember the encaustic class, with all that bark and stuff all over my table and surrounding tables and floor?)
In the studio it's the same deal! Whhooppee!! Beautiful empty Table tops  just begging to be messed up.
Here comes larger pieces of paper and all the watercolor gear! I can tell you the table is NOT clear this morning....
It's all good. It's a catalyst for big new work. I am excited again about my craft.

I am also dumbfounded.
After the watercolor gear came out, I attempted a collage work that has been wallowing in my brain for 2 weeks. I was surprised to find myself quite paralyzed! Where IS everything? My normal mode has been discontinued, disrupted and it's extinct.
I decided to do collage on top of the previously mentioned watercolor. I picked up some of the remaining ephemera I did keep and found a ladies face...I imagined her riding a glorious ice sled across the frozen creek in my watercolor. Cool, lets collage this.  I cut out the lady and placed her on the watercolor.
Time for change. I said to myself. I really want to raise the bar. I don't want to just cut out heads to paste. This is work.
Search Fearlessly: collage graffiti from the Dusty Loft, my former studio

I grabbed the watercolors again and began painting 4 little faces, modeling them on the ephemera lady I just found. One of them came out decent. I will cut and paste her and use her instead.
I have a problem with this tho. The texture of the watercolor paper for the background is the exact same texture as the lady face I just painted. When I cut her out and put her into the picture, well...she....just looks weird to me. I am a texture head!! I need to see a contrast. I think the answer is to laser copy and/or inkjet print these things of mine and use the duplicates. The laser will give me a sheen, and paper with no grain. The inkjet will allow me to fade it , or bleed it. Texture! I need texture!

This is one of the new problems I face as I try to generate more of my ephemera on my own and work to a new level. I really am a master of texture. With all this painting, it just seems lacking.

For now at least. In time, I may find new work flows, new techniques! How about monoprints? or silk screen patterns? or transfers.....?
Search Fearlessly.

I am ready to put 2010 and it's workflow to rest. What are you going to do this year?
Happy New Year, dear reader! I wish you a year of creativity. A year of new ideas, new techniques, new inspiration!
Let us ALL take our art to a new level and give the future some history to crow about!



ME/Stefanija....looking like I want to sit down on this couch in front of my work.
I just had to figure out how to do it first....
There's a lot of info here and I shall share as best as I can!

Ya wanna check it out? First place to stop?
Mark's blog! He has a couple of posts that explain the gallery.
Post 1 and Post 2
The gallery wall!
Crazy right? My art all framed and huge on the walls!

Mark has also sent me this info about the gallery and his philosophy:

The Pietmond Art Crawl galleries — Norum, SoSo West, SoSo East, Something To CHRO About, and the Tower of TILE — are small, closely packed exhibit spaces within the Second Life mainland village of Pietmond, a burg of my own creation. Featured art focuses on collage media, but also includes photography and non-collage abstraction. The village itself is a type of collage of various buildings and objects I’ve accumulated and then fiddled around with over my 3 years of existence within that virtual reality. Most are also freebie objects/structure.
I do not charge artists for exhibit space, and all of Pietmond’s current exhibitors, myself excluded, are not that familiar with Second Life. So I set up the space, create the virtually physical artwork, and do some limited inworld promotion through various, established art groups such as Art and Artist’s Network and SL Art Collectors.
Good website on how to set up your own SL art gallery is here:
Each of the art pieces found in the Pietmond Art Crawl galleries can be purchased inworld for approx. 200-300 Linden dollars, which may sound like a lot but is really the equivalent of 1 or 2 “Real Life” US dollars. The artwork is created by, first, uploading earmarked picture textures to SL for the cost of a few cents apiece (and, of course, with permission from the creating artists), then mounting them on building blocks known as prims, short for primitives. In my own galleries a picture is usually made up of a single prim, but Second Life artworks can be composed of several and perhaps many such building blocks, sometimes imbedded with complex programming scripts as well. A great blog archive on the enormous potential of virtual art, geared specifically toward Second Life, is here:
Not Possible in Real Life:


He writes:: "I’m not a newbie in SL, but neither am I that old either, virtually speaking, in comparison to some. Second Life has been around since 2003, with perhaps a peak interest in it, from an outside world perspective, coming in 2007."
Thanks thanx txxxx Mark for all this cool stuff!! Happy holidays!

My second trip into Second Life

How can I even begin to explain my latest news? It's like a puzzle, these thoughts of mine. These events.

Awhile back, I did a post about a swarthy Second Life collagist named Mark Brittain. He was doing collage in the virtual world and I was fascinated by the concept. I was also far removed from the idea, as I stuck to my studio table like glue (no pun intended!). Over this busy last month and even longer, Mark has silently been behind the scenes working on a Second Life gallery. He saw my work here on the blog and liked it, and wanted to feature me in his virtual gallery. And recently he sent me screen shots of what was to be my first gallery opening>> online. In Second Life.
How exciting! He sent me links to the gallery as he worked on it and I am really quite tickled. It is an overwhelming experience to see your work on the walls of a gallery, pasted there larger than life (literally!), even digitally.

Have you ever read The Secret? or seen the movie, or perhaps saw the Oprah show that featured it? I watched the movie and it brings forth the concept that our mental thoughts are the catalyst for real things to occur. I have always believed strongly in the strength of our thoughts, and if you  need more proof that our thoughts rule the world, just read up on quantum physics for awhile! In seeing these images on a virtual wall, my mind is capable of experiencing in a microcosm the feeling of what it would be like in the macrocosm of reality. I see my work on the wall, I beam with pride. It doesn't seem to affect my inner excitement much whether these images are on my computer screen and shown on a gallery wall within it, or on a real wall. Since lately I am moving towards some digital work, this all seem so appropriate. It's like a sort of digital initiation. It's so full of karma. Experiencing things in ones mind is the first step to experiencing in reality. I believe this is true.

I enter the world of Pietmond, the village that the virtual gallery is located in on Second Life. My clutziness within the SL environment was really hysterical. Upon finding my way to the gallery, I was unable to negotiate the different floors, and I used all sorts of key commands that had me quite literally falling on the digital floor! I was compelled to see the work that Mark did, live within Second Life. I am still seriously unfamiliar with the program's environment and the nuances of having a character. But yet, I found myself standing there in the gallery, attempting to purchase my own work!! I need Lindens...which it seems you must pay for. It's cheap to buy these lindens, and my art is uber cheap so I will be going back in the game to attempt this again. It's really quite upside down!!

To Marks' credit, he has worked very hard on several of these galleries and I am really amazed at the dedication and the creativity required to do this. He has written me many times and sent me progress reports, info on how to play Second Life, links, blog posts, pictures...he's been really enthusiastic, and I thrive on that. I am not certain what is ahead for me as far as Second Life is concerned. I am certain that for me it's another road sign on the path that I am taking my collage work.

In my next post, I will share some of this cool stuff with you!


Happy Cleaned Out Holiday!

I've been quiet the past two weeks here on the clearinghouse. It's holiday time, and I am not exempt from the heapload of elf work that must be done. Buying gifts, wrapping gifts, sending gifts....it's a CHORE that cuts into my creative time. My SUNY class just ended and I have a month off from the second job, along with some days off from the day job. This will help me find time for those creative moments.

Although I have not been at the studio table, there's been a lot of really cool things going on. I'm STILL going thru the grueling process of going thru the ephemera in my studio. UGH and double ugh. how long will this process last!!!???  I finally went thru my laser copies (which I have been hoarding for at least 7 years). Most of this stuff is imagery that I culled before I met Chris and fell in love with an antique dealer who supplies me with endless vintage stuff. I don't use copies anymore, and there was an entire trunkfuI had to go through. Any copies of my own photos I kept, which came to probably 15 pieces of paper. The rest? Woodstove fodder!! I moved the huge 1950's graphic table out and it's off for sale at the antique store. I emptied 2 bookcases and they are just waiting to be filled with new stuff! My piano keyboard is set up, synthesizer program loaded on the laptop, and I have a nice clean desk to use for my computer exploits.
I was explaining to Chris how my work HAS to change. I have thrown away a good portion of material. This will force me to find new things to use...and therefore my work will change. It's logic. The new space also affords me a place to paint, something which I am trying to engage more in my new work. I  don't know where it all leads, but this cleanout seemed appropriate and most timely.  I am ready for the New Mode.
And I am happy about it. I am glad I chose this time of year to do this massive cleanout, since i am already busy doing Christmas stuff, and personal time is hard to find anyhow.

Wherever you may find yourself this holiday, whether it be in the middle of your own personal art studio mess, or in the living room with only a pad and pencil, may you find a creative moment this season!
Happy Holidays everyone!
old stencil on barn door: it's gone now, but my happy memory remains!


"Nothing left to do"

Steve Specht here...
This is my latest piece. I have a bit to say about it; but not right now. I want to post this and will "discuss" it in an upcoming post soon. Enjoy!


Limestone Art Gallery (Fayetteville, NY)

Steve Specht here...
The opening of the exhibit at the Limestone Gallery in Fayetteville was really nice last night. We went to see the assemblage/box works of Jim Ridlon specifically, but were very pleased to be introduced to the intriguing works of Darryl Furtkamp from New Hampshire. And both artists are really nice to converse with too! So here are some nice examples of the works that can be seen there. Enjoy!


the upheaval

I can't explain what is happening. you know, I am just documenting it. I have been busy with all that holiday prep crap that has to go down this time of year, but in the background there is a huge upheaval going on that I thought I should share with you.

I started throwing everything away.
Well, actually first it started with a new computer. I replaced my desktop computer with a laptop. I have not copied my usual 200+ GB of files to it. Instead, I started purging and emptying trash. Made some CDs and DVDs. Archived.
I began with computer scans of art. Art that literally already sits in boxes and folders on the perimeter of my studio. I have the art. Do I need the scans? no. Empty trash.
Then came my boxes of ephemera. I was judicious. I was relentless. I managed to turn 7 boxes of pre-cut, already sampled imagery into 2. Hello garbage bags.
Then it was the bookshelf. Out of 5 shelves of resource books that I used for collage, only 1 remains....and it's full of empty journals. The rest, off to the recycling trailer at my day job. I was ruthless. It felt good.

It's all symbolic you know. In order to do NEW Work, I need to start fresh. I have to. I never did understand artists that destroyed their work, but I need to change the habitual way I do art and maybe they had a point. It spills over into my "other" life> as I clean thru closets and drawers of memories and sentiment. Clothes, jewelry....it's like a disease.

I still have pockets of art hoarding that I am removing....like the email box!! And the bookshelf packed with umpteen The Conservationist past issues. And the trunk that is completely stuffed with laser prints of images that I HAD to have over the past 12 years, images that now sit forgotten in that very trunk for 4 years without being touched. They are like a boat anchor. They need to go.
Also, The filing cabinet, with all kinds of previous correspondence and such>> that project I save for after the holidays. And all that art. This finished art is another project for the coming year. Distribution. I need to get this art into art lovers' hands....and clear the way for this BIG THING that seems to be brewing inside of me.
I have thrown away no tools. No paints, no pencils. This is where shall I begin. again.


brain fabric art

Wow... if you're interested in fabric art, be sure to check out this site: http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/Brain/index.htm


inadvertent high tech "find"

Steve Specht here...
I went to an opening reception of a great exhibit at Utica College of Dick Morrill's artwork. The gallery is experimenting with some high-tech system using bar-code technology as information portals to the web. By each piece of artwork is a two-dimensional bar code like the one show here. You "aim" your iPhone or Droid at the barcode (with the relevant free app of course) and viola, it takes you to a website with more information about the painting. So I spoke with one of our computer science faculty who had been involved with the project and he set me up with my own barcode. If you have a high-tech phone, point at this bar code and see what comes up ;-) Are you interested in one Julie?


"You may be our only chance"

Steve Specht here...
I forgot that I wanted to entitle this piece "You may be our only hope"... I like "hope" better than "chance". Regardless, this piece will be on exhibit at Sculpture Space for their holiday show beginning next Monday (Dec. 6th) at 5:30. Enjoy!


music excitement!!!

I just heard the first draft of the music for the 2 barns on blaine piece!!!! Oh, how can I explain the excitement of this???
I haven't had a moment to work on this piece since I am really super busy these days. I really need some music first, before i can approach the visuals. It's just so utterly cool to be able to work with someone else. In concert, pardon the pun.
I am not meeting with Anthony in person,  mind you. We are conversing via the tumblr blog I created for this purpose. At this point, it's about the process and I am documenting each step of the way as I take my collage art to another platform. The blog for 2 barns on blaine is here, and you certainly should take a peek on over there and hear this music track for yourself!!!


small pieces

I know some of these posts of mine are getting stranger, more cryptic at times.
It's becoming more and more about the process...and with words I cannot tell you what I am doing.
The words may become lyrics. The music may become video.
The small parts will eventually become one whole.

ggb ghost

Originally uploaded by misphit


in the warmth of indian summer
when the scarlet sumac grows under
a copper canopy

a driveway deserted long ago
straight down the road to this row
of gnarled trees

these rotund sheds with roofs of rusty tin
an old woman peers out from the cobwebs within
her flannel sleeve

a mere shadow of her former self
even her memories stored away on a shelf
among the dead leaves

a gust of wind blows it all away
and her ghost visits here every day
the grain bin guardian


The light box "Brunoven"

Steve Specht again...
I've finally finished the details of this light box I have been working on. It's entitled "Brunoven", which is an anagram of "noun verb". Each of the words written near the images can be used as a verb or a noun -- branch, pet, yellow, reach, block, love and head. The title is also suggestive of an "oven" and perhaps a word of German origin.. "brun". Enjoy!


Day 2 of The Invasion

Steve Specht here.
Okay, so here is the finished product (the one with the double matting, to match Day 1). The first one in this series (the one with the colorful bird) was purchased by my colleague Dr. Tyson Kreiger. I was motivated to continue doing a series of these pieces because I like them and it seems that others do too. I was contemplating including a bird head in each one, but when I saw how nice this lady's head looked, I just couldn't resist. But... I did try a composition with a golden eagle head (as shown). When I used this head, I certainly had to change the color scheme of the background space imagery. It provided me with the opportunity to do some photographing to use in a workshop about collage composition I hope to put on one day. Enjoy!


Rural Grove - Fabric #1

An attempt at fabric collage
I recently have wanted to try my hand at sewing collage. I have been hoarding fabrics since the '80s. I have at my disposal my mothers' Brother machine from the 60's. It's the machine I learned to sew on. There's magic in them thar needles. 
I decided to give it a go on Saturday.
It's refreshing to try something new. I am not done with this piece. I may even do it again. It's much harder to do than it looks!! and once you sew something on, you almost have to live with it. Taking stitches out doesn't work so well on silk.
Kudos to the fabric artists!
Cropped photo of Rural Grove 

Indian cries in the distance

It's no secret I am super fond of Charles Burchfield. He's a watercolorist from Ohio and I have gone to see his work in Buffalo. In his work, he attempted to paint sounds. Crickets, animals of the field, birds...he uses paint and paintstrokes to depict the sounds. I love that idea. So I tried it....but it came about accidently. In a DADA and coincidental way, as is typical with my work.
A glimpse of the stencils at Nellis Tavern. The stencil in the center was the one I was interested in.

I started out thinking about doing a piece that would be about the inside of the house, prior to the action. I wanted to use something locally inspiring. There were some really fine stencils that I saw at the Nelliston Tavern. I wanted to use these in my artwork, maybe as a pattern on the wall.
After I painted the first strokes, I had to let it dry before I could continue. I was not liking what was on the paper so far. It didn't look spaced properly to be a stencil. I was really blasé when I was painting, and it pissed me off that this was not going to work as I had planned. Damn, if it wasn't happening on one of my better sheets of paper, too. I usually try to rise up to the occasion when unplanned things happen in my work and I tend to be too thrifty about supplies. I turned the sheet upside down. Suddenly, the stencil looked like wispy feathers. Feathers! That connected with the idea of Indians in my video....and then I went all Burchfield in my mind. I began to look at these paint strokes as sounds instead. I took out the pen and ink, and tried to fill in a little bit, to suggest feathers...Echoing feathers.
Indian whoops
At this point, I was still so-so about the piece. The drips were another attempt to shower these sounds down on the land. Not so sure that idea worked.... I added the 2 barns on blaine, trying to take advantage of whatever textures I could, this time some florist foil. The end result turned out usable. I am not super fond of this piece, but I think I can use it in the video. And I have isolated the feathers already and maybe they can be recycled a la video, too. The process continues.


fire zone - progress of the next invasion

Steve Specht here...
After about a month and a half of feeling minimally inspired, on Thursday of this week I had the time to spend in my studio (and had cleaned-up my area a bit) and ended-up feeling "on fire" again or "in the zone" with regard to collage activities. It was exhilarating and greatly appreciated! I have several projects underway, but thought I would share a couple photographs of the second in a series of "invasion" collages I have in mind. Many people ask "how do come up with your ideas for a collage?". One of the things that I do LOTS of, is trial-and-error. I interchange many elements multiple times to finally arrive at what looks good to me. Fortunately, what looks good to me apparently looks good to some others as well. But the point here is that the collage doesn't just "come together" (i.e., it's not just simply "thrown together" quickly... in my case). Here are some of the "trials" that I have looked at this week. It's unlikely that all the elements shown will make it to the finished piece. But you can probably see things "developing". Enjoy!

a new assemblage

Thought you might enjoy seeing my new assemblage. - Steven


Open Source???

Going Open Source
Since my beginnings in computer graphics in 1985, I have always had the luxury of using the software that my employer has purchased to my own personal advantage. Learning the software was easy, since I had to perform for my job, and my various employers have paid for my training. I was lucky to get moved onto a Mac so early in the game, and now I consider my computer skills second nature. I take them for granted! My recent revelations have allowed me to return to the computer for creation and I am faced with some new problems.
I want to learn new stuff
Photoshop is a great program for working on still images. However, at this time I am working on video. This requires new software to do new things. My employer is a printer, and video is not on the menu. So you can imagine that in this economy, my employer isn't going to spend any cash on expensive video software and then train me on it...just in case....we do some video for a work promotion! This leaves me holding the bag. If I want to continue to work with video, I need to handle it on my own.
The days of MAX/MSP
I am interested in special video mixing effects, and even more specifically I am interested in affecting my video with some audio. I have special needs!! MAX/MSP is an expensive program, running at $699. I really can't do it. You won't believe the hassle I have had just to be able to use this program already.... I'm a tech at work, so I am often changing Macs, upgrading, and testing them. I did get my employer to purchase MAX 6 or 7 years ago. But the license structure required me to get a new license every single time I switched macs. After awhile, the company Cycling74 started to give me a hassle about the license, probably thinking that I was ripping them off. Of course, this didn't stop me. You can download a 30 day full feature demo and run it anytime. When the 30 days is up, you can't use the program anymore on that machine unless you pay. I just mentioned my luxury of having many macs at my disposal. I simply would use the software till the 30 days was over, and then either find another machine to use it on, or at one point, I even erased and reloaded a mac just to be able to get another 30 days out of MAX< so I could finish my Sharon Springs DK videos before the show! It's a drag.And it seriously bums me out.
This new project requires lots of high def video work and I can't keep doing this 30-day demo dance.
Hello Open Source. Hello Pure Data
Lucky for me, the creator of MAX is a believer of the power of open source software. For you who may not know that that is, open software is just that. Open. That means the code for the creation of the software is free and open to the public. It means that I get to take advantage of this benefit and use the software for free. Open source software is usually more difficult to learn, since there is no dedicated company that can pay to have instructional manuals or documents written. It's up to the open community at large to service itself, and mostly I think software developers are busy working that code, rather than writing manuals for the rest of us. For them, that's where the excitement is. Who could blame them?
Miller Puckette, the creator of MAX/MSP, has created a second very similar program called Pure Data, and it's open source! He is hoping that thru open source the program will grow and reach new loft heights. Since the same genius has developed both programs, they are similar. This means that I can take the meager skills that I had developed in MAX and apply them to this new software. Luckily I have a logical mind, and I am finding my way through it quite easily, even easier than I did in the MAX program itself! Finally, a solution! And it isn't costing me a dime.
Besides, it's a matter of principle
I believe in an open and competitive world. I really get annoyed about monopolies, greed, and commercialism. It's super good to be supporting the Open Source community and it's an added bonus to the project. I even hope to be able to provide some feedback to this community on my findings with working in Pure Data on my Macs. Working for more than 30 days without interruption will also be a welcome change!!


2 Barns on Blaine

This is the first collage for the 2 barns on Blaine project. I really like how this came out. It's a serious challenge to breathe life into inanimate objects.
Outpouring emotion from a barn while clouds and stars are bleeding from the somber sky.

Mixed Media on Hot Pressed Arches 9 x 12
Acrylic, india ink, vintage wallpaper, cover of The Golden Book of Stars, box for vintage hardware, opera libretto, funereal poster, frontispiece of children's book, digital photo laser prints, pieces of vintage chocolate box, piece of a christmas candle box, doily bits from a vintage candy box

PSY507 - Psychology & The Visual Arts

Steve Specht here...
Last night I had a great session with my class at Utica College. The course is NOT a studio art course - we mostly look at lots of art and discuss the various techniques used to create various effects like illusion of depth or Gestalt groupings. But last night was "studio art night". We started with some color mixing exercises and then spent the majority of the night creating collages. Here are a couple that were created by students (I will post more, but many of the images were slightly blurring for some reason). I was proud of the group for what the created. Enjoy!

National Collage Society Annual Juried Exhibit

You can now view this year's Annual Juried Exhibit of the National Collage Society at http://www.nationalcollage.com/2010.html.
In fact, this year the society has "gone green", so that there is no physical exhibit of this show at any gallery. Not sure if I really like that idea (I think there should be a gallery exhibit as well). The thumbnail images are a bit deceiving as they show only a small section of each respective image. It's best to open the first image and then hit "next" to go through the show. Enjoy!


The birth of the audio and being naked

I don't really understand
But suddenly the path to take in this work seems so clear! I know what the plot will be and what I want to see, what I need to do. Usually these things are pretty DADA and I feel the randomness of the universe playing me like a piano. In a serendipitous fashion, just the right piece of paper seem to fall in my hands, or appear on the magazine page. It's so mysterious. It's what keeps me in this business of collage. But this time it's different.

I really need the audio before I can do the visual
The process of creating an animation to music is pretty involved....Over time I have stumbled my way into some pretty archaic workflows! One thing I am sticking to is that I have to have the music before I can animate my collage and artwork.  I like to make the figures and objects almost dance to the music. It's key to making things even slightly believable. When I am working in the Flash animation timeline, I can see places in the sound track where the beat is heavier, and I can place emphasis on certain chosen points in time.
So it was critical for me that the music for these pieces get started. Lucky for me, I have some really creative and interesting friends. Anthony is a musician from Utica, NY who I met through my inspirational coworker Travis. Anthony has a band called Draculatron and he passionately belts out his wailing songs in front of local audiences constantly. He's driven creatively, and I enjoy his enthusiasm and overwhelming emotion. He's a prolific singer and songwriter. How happy I was when after I proposed my video idea to him, he accepted!

The story of the video evolved slowly. 
There are these 2 barns on Blaine Rd. I took a photo of them one morning on the way to work and I used a setting on my phone that allowed me to apply random filters to the image. I shot from the hip and the picture that was born inspired me. It's not a particularly excellent image. But I live here and see these 2 barns all the time. The feeling I get from them goes way deeper than the image.
I thought about how it must have been when this land was first settled. I tried to imagine what was happening back then, and how things might have gone down here at the 2 barns.

The plot
Two lovers are wrapped arm in arm in early morning slumber....when they are awakened to the sound of cries in the distance. They only appear as black silhouette's against a backdrop of fading tin ceiling and dark shadows of bottle green and sapphire. Facial features are indistinguishable but you can tell that they are in a loving embrace (i picture a silhouette of their arms wrapped around each other) A sweep of the curtain in the window reveals that there is a raiding Indian war party racing towards the home. In haste, the 2 lovers gather themselves together and run down the back stairway, while the front door bursts open and the Indians rush in.  Their darkened black figures are seen rushing downstairs and flowing like ghosts. The words of the music will spin and scroll across their figures in barbed wire like flowery colonial script and disappear . Down the stairway and out the back door they ran for their life, straight to the 2 barns on Blaine for refuge. The sun comes thru the window and the figures of the 2 black shadows are revealed. They are both men.

I feel like I am taking my clothes off
I have not really voiced many of my deeper personal opinions here on this blog. It's all getting so personal. (somehow I can't help but believe that it's all about the process of getting personal and the art is incidental and so I am compelled to write here as though this blog and the writing itself is part of the art) It's going to get personal, and it's okay, I am assuring myself. I have a friends of every persuasion, color, religion, creed and sexual preference. I love my gay and lesbian friends as much as anyone else in my life. They are some of my closest friends. I feel that we should all love one another....as we are all ONE. (john lennon anyone?) It would be a good way to spread my personal message. Using our history and bringing it into a different context--that which is mine. I imagine gay and lesbian people were quiet about their preferences in those colonial times--these were some freakin' Puritan times!! People were forced to go to church all day long under penalty of law and I am sure these folks were fiercely punished if they were discovered. Colonial writings and stories about the lesbian or gay community I have not seen, but they must have existed. And there must have been some instances where these people also had to feel sting of the growing pains of our country. Why not I tell the story that I thought must have existed?

You didn't see it coming
You have already become quite sympathetic to the couple and your heart should race as they run down the stairs, shadows...ghosts. And then there is the striking reveal that they are gay. This should prove my point. We are all one. By then it's too late for you and you would have to admit we are all just people.

The birth of the audio and being naked
Asking Anthony to collaborate on this particular video was no coincidence. He is gay. And his passion for the gay community will help him bring ALL of his emotion and creativity to the music. I got my first glimpse of the music today. I was so excited to hear the beginning of something entirely new...inspired by the deepest parts of me. But that's for another post. Enough of my rambling. I already feel quite naked out here.


New Media Pros and Cons

So yesterday I wrote about my decision to plunge my collage into the digital realm again.
A few years back, wow, maybe 5 years at least...I was really heading in this direction. Liberated by Flash and it's capabilities of scripting animation, I was quite excited. I did a bunch of small projects. But,  in my heart, there's an ego thirsty ham that wants recognition....I want to imagine years from now collectors hanging onto my work and fighting over it in auctions. (well a girls gotta dream anyhow). This dream sort of turned to dust when I considered what was going to happen to my digital work years from now. It's already obvious that technology isn't standing still, and that the world is still figuring out how to archive this type of work. Oil is used in the production of computers, and with peak oil looming...I felt I had better focus as much effort as possible on an end product that didn't exploit our planets' resources, a product that was tangible and not ethereal. This meant artwork on the studio table. For years, I pretty much abandoned efforts on animating my work, except for a few small projects.
After consideration, as I said yesterday, I started feeling like I've been there, done that. I need to step up my game, take advantage of all the things that I can use to convey emotion, and start branching out.  I want to lead the medium to a new place, rather than hang out where I am comfortable.
I am nervous. We all like to be compensated on our work! I like to sell pieces so that I can afford more art materials, art trips, and art stuff! But How the Heck am I going to Market a Hi-def video? Where's the money in it? For me, it's been about the experience, not so much the money, but we often equate money with success. If I do this movie and it takes me over 300 hours, how will I justify the time spent on something so abstract as a movie?
It's not like I have a distributor or someone ready to pick this video and show it, or a gallery interested in setting up a major installation for art, photography and video (yet!)...although perhaps this would happen should I pursue it.
I feel like a deer frozen in the headlights! What to do, what to do! It's almost depressing to me. Almost. If it wasn't for the sheer excitement that is happening inside as I head into new territory! For now, my muse leads me to new places. I am using the process of collage in my video making and using the processes available on the computer for my collage making. It's going to be interesting to see what can be conjured up. And so exciting...and who knows where it will lead me?
Will this make me money?
i don't know. It doesn't really matter. I have a full time day job and a part time night job for cash.
I am in it for the experience.

I figure who else can do what I can do? I feel like inside I am a leader, not a follower. It's time I acted like one.

additional note:
This change makes my collage blogging even more complex.  I know, it's "my blog" and I can do what I want. But I have spent years keeping this a resource blog about collage. Am I straying too far off topic, if I take you through this new process into the computer and back again? There's still artwork to share, but not as much...since now some of my time and creativity is spent with video and the like...Is this the proper forum for this new direction?? Any comments would be welcome, while I try to decide how to handle this.


Whassup over here?

What's been happening???!! You ask.
It's so exciting. I finally figured out the answer to my dilemma!

It's been a difficult year for me as an artist. I have admitted that I came to a crisis point in the spring. I lost my desire to continue to do collage work and turned to watercolor for awhile as a break of routine. Through that experience I remembered why I spent so much time doing collage work. The textures and complexity of collage intrigue me.
The amount of background thinking during this period was staggering. I considered the act of being an artist and how it affects me and what I do. I considered my role as an artist and how I need to add something unique to the global dialogue. I reflected on my procedure, copyrights, and the amount of work that I pour into each piece. During this thought process a few things became clear.
Working the same way as before was now impossible. I have become uncomfortable using images the way I did in the past and the time for change is NOW.
I came to some new conclusions.
1. The way I have been working, my own personal process and result....it's been done. Over and over. And if it wasn't done by someone else, it's been done by ME!  There is no reason to continue on in this particular mode. For now, I have exhausted it. Time to move on to new frontiers. I need to bring my collage work to another level. And if need be, another platform.
2. I have a special skill set. Lucky me! Dad always spoke with disdain about a person that was jack of all trades and master of none. But, that's me. I know how to play and write music. I know how to create art. I know how to input this art to the computer and animate it. I can write. I know how to create products to reproduce any of the above.
To only use one of these skills and only do art seems like I am working at half-mast. In order to bring the full Julie Sadler experience to the global dialogue, I need to pump it up and start using all these skills. In combination. It's my special gift to have these abilities. Combining them is the answer.
3. The only thing I can add to the conversation is simply ME.

I am working really hard on combining art, photography, video, and my writing into some hi-definition video work. The artwork comes from me, as well as the photography, videos, concept, etc.  What a thrill to see your collage go live; to see action happening on a screen where you could see it only in your mind before. I feel rejuvenated. It's exhausting. Exasperating. And so Exciting!!


Schoharie Crossing

This one started out twice as large. I just couldn't see enough "meat" for it to be so big! I ended up recropping and cutting away half of it.
The side green building parts are watercolor and black walnut ink. The top piece of green building is colored pencil and black walnut ink. I liked it better than the watercolor....it has better texture and matches my photo prints better.

Cancer and Us

The American Cancer Society:

In May of 2007, my mom passed away from Lung Cancer. I couldn't believe that from the time that they diagnosed it until her death was only 7 months. There wasn't much time for her. For us. I think she probably had the disease quite awhile before she was diagnosed. It sucks because had she found it earlier, perhaps I would be sharing the happiness of the birth of my grandchildren with her.
Early detection. That's our current safest bet to win against cancer, since a "cure" has not yet been discovered. GO. Go and get the nasty check up. Let them feel up your tits. Let them put that scope up your ass. It hurts, but it pales in comparison to death from cancer! I am guilty of this myself. I have made 2 appointments for the mammogram and both times I honestly forgot. Honest. It escaped my mind. And now I am pushing myself to make yet another appointment and GO!
So don't let me seem like I am preaching. I am just like you. It's a drag. But it's life and death.

At my day job, we are walking as a team for Breast Cancer in Albany on Sunday. You know I have never ever used this blog as a forum for anything else but art talk, but today, I felt I had to spend a moment to get on the soapbox and see if I could convince you to donate to this cause. I personally know of at least 7 people that were close to me that have died from Cancer. Men and women. Rich and poor. Black and white. Old and young. There is no special formula. It touches us all.

There's a link at the top of this page that leads to my donation page, if you care to use it. I went on the site, and it kind of sets you up for a $50 donation. That's hefty for some people. I think if you have $10 to spare, they would take that too.

Today I am spray painting my sneakers pink. I am buying new black shoelaces and will wear these shoes in the walk on Sunday! I was thinking of doing some kind of makeshift collage art on them....we will see.

Thanks you guys.


Emergent surprises

Greetings Collagista!
I have really been enjoying Julie's "travel log" as she has been continuing her creative journeys. I've decided to post something that I think folks might also appreciate as we all travel through the creative forest. I recently put a post up on my blog lamenting a little bit the fact that my recent successes have made me a bit less spontaneous in my studio and feeling like I "need" to do a "good" piece every time I create. But last night I had an interesting surprise. A couple weeks ago, I showed students in my Psychology & Visual Arts class the process of adhering elements in collages which I learned from Jonathan Talbot. I brought in a bunch of scraps that had been laying around in my studio just to show them the process. I wasn't expecting to put together anything usable or necessarily aesthetically-pleasing in such a spontaneous demonstration (btw, Jonathan is VERY good at that!). Since then, I have been using that piece to try some techniques with paint and other scraps. Last night when I looked at this "throw-away" piece, it struck some note with me, so I decided to see what it looked like in a mat and frame. Lo and behold, I actually kind of liked it. It doesn't really represent my normal "voice", and I don't think it'll show-up in any exhibit, but I found it intriguing. So I went to bed last night encouraged, for whatever reason; and I think I "needed" something like this to happen to help me through this hairy leg of my creative journey (see recent "contamination" post). Enjoy!



I am almost done with the first 10 pieces in this latest Mohawk Valley series. I have so far to go! At this point, I am ready to begin some work on the animations that will accompany these works. The Movies!! Eventually the animations will make their way to a hidef art film. I have been working on composing the footage piece by piece already and I have 4 DVD's --12 gig-- worth of clips to prove it. The animation projects that I have done before this were very spontaneous and driven by my thirst to learn the technology as I shared my ideas thru a project. This time, because of this past experience, I have a better handle on what I need to set up in the beginning (such as the size and dimensions of hi def imagery!)
I've been reading alot so I start this set of movies off on the right foot. Compression Decompression (Codecs) and bitrates and all kinds of crazy concepts are getting some scrutiny before I take these collage works to the next level. It's all so technical at this level.

Before the animations via computer can even begin, I will need to make some decision on the audio component. Sound! I have to have sound for this movie, especially since in my work style, the characters are strangely flat and unable to speak. I am conjuring up a very interesting collaboration with a musician friend of a friend of mine. More on this if it works out.
Another component --one which is new to me-- is the writing. I am writing poetry, prose, or maybe fairy tale stories that will compose the theme of the animation and also maybe be the lyrics for the songs that will be written. At this crossroad, I am going back and forth between 2 approaches. Words written in the present that represent my feelings and identification with the historical past. OR. Words written in the past, perhaps even in olde english, that redefine the past in our terms. I tend to lean with the first idea and even as I type this I am snarling at the second idea... It's hard to personify and identify with characters of the past --it's too much like history--probably cuz it IS history! (and i hated history in school. I pursue this type of knowledge on my own willingly now.) I know alot about how "I" feel and I was not living back then to truly own that experience.
Although these collage posts lately have been brief, there's been more thought and more effort than ever on my part to rise up to a new level of work. I am still doing watercolors to accompany me in this process. I am working harder than ever on my technical skills and trying to add more of them to each piece where possible.
I know this post is already long and wordy, but these notes are just as much for me as they are for you! Sometimes clarity is gained by working on these posts!
For awhile there, I was starting to feel like my collage work was simply head pasting...after a decade of cutting and pasting, and literally 1000's of collage works, I think I reached a saturation point and a rut in my creative procedure. You saw me drop off this year and for months I avoided collage work and embraced painting with full force. I found within myself the next challenge. For me at the juncture, this means leaning less on ephemera and more on Julie. In depicting these haunting homes and buildings of the valley, I am working to breathe as much life and emotion into the building as possible. NO leaning on people to carry the piece. The building is the focus, it's the soul of what this project is about. It's very hard to go thru boxes of ephemera and turn down practically every single piece. At this point, my collection seems outdated and inappropriate for what I am doing! I need textures and it is with these textures that I will paint my collage. It's the texture. NOT the picture. It's a crucial and drastic change for me, and I don't know where it leads. But I find myself exceedingly challenged at this point!! And I just love that.


Long lost past future

This one is a remix. I did a collage and didn't like the end result, however, I loved the internal portions of it. I tore it up, and remade it on a larger piece of paper, utilizing the saved shreds.
The premise is that these young folk lost their fathers and/or mothers thru Indian raids. They were lucky to survive.  They were the long lost past future residents of Hallsville.
Long Lost Past Future Residents


I've been fooling around on Blogger

Yes, that's right. I am so sorry Blogger, but I must admit that I am fooling around on you. We have had such a satisfying relationship and up till now, both of our needs were being met. But lately, with all this new technology tempting me, I have started to roam. Enter Tumblr. Tumblr is a blogging platform that makes it so darned easy to post, this blogger stuff seems old hat. Tumblr has a widget that parks on my browser menu bar, so that I can immediately push the button and viola! The picture is posted. No copy and pasting of links...it's as easy as pushing a button. This same ease of use also allows me to post text quotes and it automatically links to the source!! How cool is this? I don't have to go chasing the links to share them. Forgive me blogger, I just couldn't help myself.

My first peek at a tumblr blog was the exquisite research stream of my Belgian friends, Tale of Tales. This visual format really suits my needs for my latest project. I love love love the idea of a research stream. Especially now, when I am in the gathering mode, collecting ideas, thoughts, stories, pictures and ephemera. It is helping me keep it all in one place.

My latest endeavors involve the Mohawk Valley in upstate NY. It's where I live now. After years of Adirondack imagery and exploration, I am using my creativity to delve into this oh-so-historical region for my next set of works. The cemetery next door was the catalyst. I found a fantastic redstone gravestone that borders my land that dates back to a death in 1805. I found it unbelieveable that someone settled this land over 200 years ago. Through lots of research, I have placed myself back into this time period as best as I could and as I do this, I find various themes sifting to the top.

Through this process it has been a boon to have this tumblr blog to collect it all for me. That may be why I am posting less here, but i doubt it. Please forgive my cross posting pix from here to there... These blogs have different purposes. Actually, this project has rejuvenated my collage appetite, and I am working harder than ever.

Harvest Halls

Harvest Halls


Sculpture Space CHAIRity Auction

Next Saturday (Sept. 25th) is the date for this year's Annual Sculpture Space CHAIRity Auction. As far as I am concerned, this is the arts event of the year in the greater Utica area. Lots of great art and an exciting auction! More details can be found at "www.sculpturespace.org" Hope to see some of you there!


Rural Grove

Rural Grove — Original FX Camera photo

I use my Droid phone to take altered photos with FX Camera. I have been using this camera and software combination to record my research trips in the Mohawk Valley for the past 3 months. I have a hard time believing it, but my Droid 5 mp camera gives me better quality photos than my 3 - 4 year old Kodak Dual Lens. Not that the Kodak is such a great camera....it's also a 5 megapixel camera, but for some reason the Droid holds the shadows nicer. FX Camera is a cool droid app that allows you to take pix using filters that simulate polaroids and toy cameras. I luv luv luv this feature. It's kind of like having a mini portable MAX/Jitter toolbox on my phone.
The altered photos are providing me with the ultimate inspiration. The recent series of Tall House on Blaine was based on a picture I took in this manner. These photos provide take-off points for me. I use photography to alter and distort the reality. Then I feed this back into my brain and reprocess the vision with these new colors and filters. Out comes a more imaginative collage. I rely a lot on technology to help me mutate images. I am using this technique more and more lately as I use more of my imagery for composition.

Rural Grove — Watercolor
There's a little remnant of a town nearby. It's called Rural Grove. Most of the homes are tucked in lush hedgerows. There's this stark contrast between the homes that people still reside in versus the homes that are decaying and lonely. There was this one house had really excellent architectural lines...and I have used this as my next subject.

Rural Grove — Collage


Tall House On Blaine Rd — Fourth and Final

It's no secret I've been working on some watercolors lately to use in my work. It's been so crazy difficult, and I really hate to admit that but it's true. Painting is HARD for me, it's probably one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to do. My skill set seems weak in this area, and I have tried to improve and often dream of being really good at it.
It appears a tho my lifetime won't be long enough for me to achieve this goal! The amount of practice needed for me to be a great painter...well I don't think I have the time! I am already 50! HA! I worked on one piece lately that is just plain ol' kickin' my butt. The piece is called Tall House on Blaine Rd. I posted at least twice here about this particular work. I have already tried 3 times to produce a watercolor that fits the vision that I have in mind. Each time I succeed on one little portion of the painting, but the rest of the painting (pardon my bluntness) is just plain ass. It doesn't help that each time I try, I do something a bit different to experiment. I have been left feeling less than satisfied each time I have done this and my confidence level is flatlined.
I haven't said too much, but collage and I have been strangers. I have felt very mechanical about my work this year, and I have stepped back and stopped working in this medium for a few months hoping to either reset my habitual nature, or hoping for some new technique or perception to take over. Needless to say, neither of these things have happened. I started to feel further and further away from the collage medium instead. And the watercolor medium did not start to feel any more familiar in this time, either!I felt as tho my creativity and artistic nature was leaving me.
Finally this weekend I sat down and oddly enough I felt the collage mood taking over. It's been months...I was actually nervous about it. I had the 3 previously mentioned Blaine Rd. watercolors staring at me in the studio, so I decided to just wing it and try doing a collage of this piece that has eluded me time and time again. And then it happened. That magic I have been missing, that inner joy and satisfaction, that inner CHALLENGE!
Tall House on Blaine Rd. 4
I started out this collage with a watercolor of it (oh yes, didn't I mention the FOURTH try?) that I decided already went south. I didn't like the painting, didn't think I could revive it, and figured why waste this fine L'Anaquarelle paper? It became the basis of this new collage work, Tall House on Blaine Rd 4...which at long last lives up to the vision that I had in the beginning for this piece.
Honest. For me...collage is where it's at. Even if I do take breaks now and then and dabble in other media. Collage is home.



In preparation for my evening class, I watched again the DVD "How to Draw a Bunny" - a documentary about collagist Ray Johnson. It's a great movie! A "must see" for anyone interested in collage art. I would even be willing to loan it to anyone who might be interested. Let me know. Enjoy!


Steven Specht Solo Show

Tucked in the canal region of Little Falls alongside the picturesque Mohawk River, the Mohawk Valley Center For the Arts provides a perfect backdrop for showcasing the collage work of Steven Specht. The gallery is a small venue. It's located in the small city of Little Falls, a small distance away from the hustle and bustle of Syracuse, Utica or Albany, but just far enough away to feel the relief of daily pressures. MVCA is run by some very passionate and supportive folks.
Supplying not just a professional gallery space for sharing creativity, they also provide a small store for continuous craft/art sales, as well as a creative curriculum of classes for the community at large. Having had my own solo show in this gallery last year, I was sure they would provide my colleague Steven with an equally dazzling display. I was not disappointed!
How do I go about writing about the work of someone for whom I have such respect? Steven and I met last year during my show at this very gallery. He had come to see my work and was quite supportive. He purchased a couple of works and we began our art-based friendship. His enthusiasm for the medium impressed me, and I found through talking with him that he was writing collage criticism. This very blog goes thru fits and starts, as any regular reader will attest, and I was happy to suggest that Steven join up here at the collage clearinghouse to post his overflow. Since this time, we have all been blessed with his commentary and the ability to share in his creativity. I have been thinking over how exciting it is to have this lively man participating here in our discourse and how thankful I am.

I have watched from a distance, as Steven joins various collage organizations, participates in several juried exhibits and shows, and grows as an artist through this experience.
It was with great pleasure that I attended his opening at the MVCA this past Sunday. The day was slightly gloomy with clouds and mist overhead, but this did not stop the bustling activity at the gallery. When I arrived, I was happy to find it was packed with people! I was immediately struck by the professional presentation. Steven did a great job in showcasing his work. The frames that he chose were perfect and I liked the effect that was had by using many frames that were similar in design. His work filled the walls nicely, and I thought that the pieces were arranged in a most pleasing manner. Some of his pieces were in floating mounts, and I thought these were especially cool.
Steven has begun to dabble in assemblage a bit, and his newest pieces in this 3d medium stood as a really nice contrast to the flatter artworks in frames. I liked these pieces, they were a nice break for the eye.
What really stuck with me was how utterly flat and perfect his work is. You could have told me these were prints of his work and I would have believed, since my eye could not detect an edge or anything even slightly askew to give away his collage secret. The edges between imagery are completely hidden, as Steven meticulously cuts out each piece and places them as carefully as he cuts them. His pieces are super tight and cohesive. The Jonathan Talbot technique that he uses to compose these works match his style perfectly and I was quite impressed with the overall effect of surrealism that was achieved in his work. This flatness, this lack of discernible layers, allows the viewer to enter the piece, and believably so. His world is so perfectly constructed, your mind easily enters it. This tight structure of work reminded me a bit of Nick Bantok's work in Griffin and Sabine.
I found particular pleasure in collages where he has used black and white engravings as his base, and then added high contrast color pieces to accentuate. The color on these really stands out and makes for a really striking effect.

It's so great this creative and enthusiastic person is living so close to me. In the past I have wanted to blame my lack of participation in the art community on my geographical location. With such an active gallery close by, and now also active collagists such as Steven living within an hour of my home, this practice is over. No more excuses! I am embracing this little pocket of artistic activity. Thanks Steven for putting on such a fantastic and inspiring display! And Thanks to Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, for continuing to support the arts in our community!!

Reception THANK YOU!

Wow! I REALLY had a great time at the opening reception for my show at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in Little Falls. I am blessed to have such supportive family members, old and new friends, artists, colleagues and new acquaintances. I really appreciate everyone's effort in making the event a success and that so many came out to the reception yesterday. Thank you all!!!

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.