Gypsy Racing Truck

He was making a trailer that he could use to tow antiques to flea markets and outdoor shows and all the while his fiancé kept teasing him by calling it the gypsy wagon. The trailer came out quite normal, painted John Deere green, although she did stencil on the wheel wells a fancy scroll to match the powder blue hubs. The fiancé still fancied herself a gypsy wagon, one that could haul wares quickly thru the countryside. It would be a red, with a hint of checkered flag.


Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace
Originally uploaded by misphit
Although I do like this piece, I am also annoyed by it.
I am trying hard to work into a new style, and trying to change my "look" as I have stated in previous posts.
I let myself do whatever I wanted to on this piece, while more recent pieces that required discipline were also on the table> I ended up working on The 2 MIss Leavens while simultaneously working on Queen Anne's Lace. I let this piece be me untethered...using whatever I wanted to create whatever I wanted with wild abandon. The 2 Miss Leavens piece was much more restrained, while I tried, exasperatingly so, to create a different look.

My thoughts....The watercolor on the substrate was very pure and the colors were too purple. I took transparent yellow ochre acrylic and did a horizontal wash over it to get the muted background effect. Unfortunately, the background watercolor entirely disappeared when I did the foreground collage work. It's a hazard in my collage work! The backgrounds frequently are gone. The more involved and the more elements are in the watercolor piece, the more difficult the collage work is, since I want some of the painting to show. This particular watercolor was quite lame so I allowed myself to cover it. Now it just looks like atmosphere.
So why does this piece bother me?
Cuz I like it, even tho I wasn't following my new rules going for a New Look!



Originally uploaded by misphit
Once again, one of my favorite themes...stars.

I was working on the cabinet cards (see last post). I have 5 of them going on at once, and I am searching thru boxes of pre-cut ephemera (stuff I cut before but didn't use). As I pick and choose, I find myself collecting little pieces that seem to belong together, and putting them in a little pile.
Within 15 minutes of searching, I had all the components found for this piece. I did not find the pieces I was looking for on the cabinet cards, however.
It's times like these that I wonder who is driving the bus? Am I the one who is creating ...? Or is another unidentifiable force running the show?

Long Lost Relative - Nainsook

Started a small series of altered cabinet cards for a show next month. I have had this particular one sitting on my table for at least 6 months. She was half done, and existed in limbo. Since I seem to be finding some sort of motivation lately, I finally finished her.

These simpler works are challenging because every single element counts. There's no room for frills or mistakes...since the cabinet cards are vintage and there's only one of each. This will hang via rusty wire, from a piece of tin ceiling that I have cut into smaller pieces.

Nainsook...I thought this was a wine label. It was in an old scrapbook that was really falling apart. I looked it upand found out Nainsook was a type of fabric... a fine, soft muslin fabric, often to used to make babies' clothing. Who knew!? I love that, because the lady I now named Nainsook is wearing something very white and very cottony looking. Sweet serendipity. I love that about collage.


I always hated last call in the bar. It meant I had to slurp up and move on....drink up and go home! But this Last Call is no bummer!
Last Call is the name of a photography exhibit curated by Peggy Sue Amison, and initiated by April Gertler of "38".
Here's the info:


curated by Peggy Sue Amison

A group show ending the 4 week summer intensive workshop program PICTURE BERLIN initiated by April Gertler.

Robbie Acklen
Ana Catarina Pinho
Paul Corcoran
Celine Mikahala Grouard
Olivia Hall
Amanda McCaskey
Caroline Monnet
Aine Saunders
Han Sungpil
Mary Grace Tate
Seren Turam

Opening Thursday 29 July from 7pm
29 - 31 July 2010

Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin


A Response for Anonymous

I got an anonymous comment from a reader on my last post about ripping up my watercolor work for a collage piece. I thought this was a really good response, since it raised other questions in my mind that were relevant and quite interesting. Thank you, whoever you are, for giving me this opportunity to answer you. Here was Anonymous' query:

I find it very interesting that you say how it hurt you to tear up your own watercolor for use in a collage. How does it hurt you to tear up other images or other people’s work? I am an artist myself and I can relate to the feeling of accomplishment when one creates something, when you personally have designed, created, and finished an original piece of art work. By reading your blog I understand that you are a dedicated collage artist . Will you ever consider painting with the same inspiration as you show with collage…and not tearing up the image? I believe we can do what we set our mind to. Great art does not just come through inspiration alone, we need dedication, research, and above all practice.

I am going to respond to this line by line...
I find it very interesting that you say how it hurt you to tear up your own watercolor for use in a collage. How does it hurt you to tear up other images or other people’s work?
Each time I consider a piece of ephemera for my work, a few decisions have to be made. I have mentioned before that my fiancé runs an antique store. He has taught me alot about the value of aged goods, and especially paper goods. Books with bindings that are destroyed, or pages that are semi-moldy - ripped or torn - or destroyed....these are candidates for my collage. As an ailing book, the item has little or no cash value. Most people won't buy things that are falling apart, and if mold is involved it is probably just as well! I willingly and happily cut up these types of items with wild abandon. Sometimes, these older books (such as dictionaries) are filled with etchings, or unique art and I will separate these and save them. Chris sometimes frames them and sells them, since they have merit in their own right. Once I bought a book loaded with great animal etchings for $40 at a flea market with full intentions of ripping it up in my artwork. But, after I took it home and considered it, I was unable to use it. It has so much more value as a book in one piece. I have found myself using these images as reference for my own drawings. I will admit prior to my becoming further educated on copyrights...at one point I would have laser copied these and used the copies in my work. I don't do this anymore. At this point, I am pushing more than ever to be the originator of as much of the ephemera in my collage pieces as possible.

I want to also mention the fact that I have rarely had an opportunity to get a hold of someone else' art...the "original"...to be able to use it in my work! Who has? I don't often come across discarded pieces of creativity. I usually am using multiples. Printed objects, magazines, newspapers, brochures, old cards, books.... Labels, foil parts from candy wrappers. Things that have been discarded, or partially destroyed. I do have a few old acrylic paintings that someone discarded. I bought them from Chris for their frames, so I could recycle them in my stuff. The paintings? Well, I didn't want to rip them or tear them, honest, they were pretty lame. I gessoed over them and had my way with them as blank canvas instead. (I have since stopped doing this...since I have had some technical difficulties with adhering to the base)

I am an artist myself and I can relate to the feeling of accomplishment when one creates something, when you personally have designed, created, and finished an original piece of art work. By reading your blog I understand that you are a dedicated collage artist . Will you ever consider painting with the same inspiration as you show with collage…and not tearing up the image?

This question was the one that got me. Actually yes. I have done many watercolors and pen and inks. In fact, these mediums were my choices prior to my doing collage. I have a secret body of work that I keep to myself. These were painting that I did in a certain period of my art development that I cherish, as they have other meanings besides just being my watercolors. There are only a few that I feel have any serious artistic merit, and some of these are framed and hang in my home. There are others that were half finished, or that I thought didn't "work out". These I have used in my collage work as I see fit. I don't cringe as much when I tear something that I already have written off! As for painting with the same inspiration...again, I have done this. And lately, I have been painting again, and more than ever. My skills are rusty, but I really enjoy the challenge, and I keep thinking someday I may actually get good at it! It's been about 7 years since I seriously painted. I think this past 4 months I have done probably 12 watercolors...I still really want to try to use my own paintings in my own collage work.

I have found that painting is great, and it provides a certain kind of challenge...the use of pigment and brush, the integration of line, shape, texture, and value. It produces one type of end result. If I created a collage, then sketched from it and painted it, I could produce this flat rendering we call a painting. It would be a vastly different object than the actual collage. I believe MY personal passion is in painting with textures. I feel as though the painting...it's missing this tactile thing that I revel in. If you look at a collage in person, which is highly preferred to viewing here on the screen, you see a myriad of physical layers. Each element has it's own thickness, it's own varnish and surface treatment, it's own sheen, it's own individual tactile quality. It's the melding of these various textures that is my own special given talent. Even though these layers are pieces of textures that others have printed on their chosen papers, when removed from their context, these textures become my paints, which I weave and paste into collage, using those very same principles of line, shape, texture, and value. It's a rich medium, full of endless potential, certainly as much potential as a painting.

Some of my collage works go together like clockwork. It's as though someone else is guiding the finding and the placement of every element. I can do a few smaller works in a really serious, intense full day in my studio. Other times, I struggle for weeks, even months, with artworks half done, waiting for just the right piece, or to finish off something just right. Inspiration and dedication is required for a collage piece as equally as it is required for a painting. I feel that to be a successful artist in ANY medium, including collage, painting, photography, digital illustration, sculpture, crocheting....it all takes dedication and practice. ANd then some more dedication and even more practice!

Thanks anon!


Watercolors of my own

I am working on some watercolors of local scenery so that I can cut them up and use them in my collage work. I feel less and less like using imagery from other sources and more and more like creating my own. Not sure where this drive is coming from, but I am sure it's another factor in my slow collage output as of late.
David Hochbaum made quite an impression on me and here 3 years later I am still working this thru....he had such a lack of ephemera. I have the motherload. He relies on his own skill to create his work...instead of others. I have not been so strict in my collage work. In fact, at one point I remember challenging myself to use as much weird stuff as possible! (the sharon springs series) Then came the period where I challenged myself to use my own photo prints. Perhaps this is the natural progression...where I start using my own watercolors, too.

I have never thought I was a superior watercolor painter. Usually I satisfy the urge to paint by doing a few sketches, and then I go back to collage. But, I have been painting a LOT this year. I guess I am subconsciously creating a body of work that I can then....tear apart! I used one recent watercolor in a collage already, even though I cringed as I tore it in half. I guess I will compare it to eating a chicken you bought at the store...or eating a chicken that you have to kill first, then gut, then de-feather...before you eat it. There's a bit of personal pain involved. Maybe this will mean more emotion in the artwork?

The Mohawk Valley will be my new subject. I have dabbled recently with the idea of writing fairy tales and illustrating them. I also wanted to work a bit with Lithuanian imagery. But neither of these ideas has taken flight. Perhaps it's another reason for the creative lull. So I am sparking it all up. New subject. New techniques.
Perhaps a new message is also being written?

A certain painter lived here in the region in years past. His name was Rufus Grider. He did a lot of watercolors of local scenes...and related them to our historical past. I love the flavor of his work and it inspires me to try something with that flavor. I got a chance to see some of his work at the Fort Plain Museum, where they house a bunch of his stuff and have it on display.

Here's the source photograph that I took for my next watercolor piece. It's a photo of a farm that is probably 4 - 5 houses up the road from me. This is the back side of the farm, as viewed from Blaine Rd.

I would paint en plein air....but the deerflies were KILLIN' ME! Here's the Julie watercolor version:

It's kinda cutesy...but I already took a few laser prints of it. And these prints, I shall rip and tear for collage. In this case, I am leaving the watercolor original alone!


NCS postcard show award winners

Check out "www.nationalcollage.com/exhibitions/10pc.html" to see this year's award-winning post-card sized collage from the annual "Wish You Were Here" exhibit. Nice pieces! 16 out of a total of about 150 received awards.


Conway Road & Rte. 163

Conway Road & Rte. 163
Originally uploaded by misphit
Actually, this was the first piece for this newer series. I did this a couple of weeks ago.The background watercolor is of a spot on Conway Road. The building...do you recognize this from the last post? It's Rte. 163.
I was literally dismayed while I worked on this piece. The wallpaper pieces were laid down first, and then I tried to ignore the bright patterns while I did the watercolor on top. I really had trouble with that, my brain was whining!
I am happy with this in the end. There's no people in it...something I am struglling with lately. I have an internal argument going on about ...to people or not to people. Strange, but I used to do paintings that NEVER had any trace of man in them. Now, I struggle to do collage without a person in it. I thought it had to do with me not wanting to draw people, but then I sat back recently and sketched a bunch of people. My skill, that's not the problem. It has to do with the subject matter of the piece, and my personalization and personification of the whole experience.

Whew. That sounds like a weird paragraph, but I shall leave it in, so maybe you can understand you are dealing with a crazy woman.

The Sequence of Events for Rte. 163

I took this picture on Rte. 163 outside of Fort Plain in 2008. It was a great site in the morning, and the sun hit just right to create this spooky scene. I decided to use this photo as a launching point for my next work. The telephone pole lines opposing the trees is my favorite spot in the piece. I decide to make sure I exaggerate this and include it with pen and ink.

I labored in this watercolor on Saturday and Sunday morning.These things don't come easily for me. It looks simple enough. But each layer has to dry before the next, or else you get funny blooms, like the one in the left bottom corner. I debated at this stage. I wanted to use pen and ink in order to put in the trees. But then, this piece is going to be a collage.
I make some tape transfers of the trees, so I can get all those twisted fine lines the way I want them. The reality of this against the loose watercolor is quite striking. I wanted this piece to be about the telephone pole and the house. It didn't need any people really. But while I was working I found this b/w print of a primitive painting of some children. These children! These 2 children looked like sisters to me (and internally I equated them to The 2 Miss Leavens....one of the songs by Rasputina in the Sister Kinderhook CD. The 2 Miss Leavens: they were sisters, only 200 years apart.) I can't resist the urge to put the girls in. I feel quite minimalistic at this juncture, and I didn't want to add a bunch of ephemera to cloud the eerie house on the hill feeling.

So. Where is the telephone pole?
Not there! I still might add it. But I hate to add pen and ink at this point! Scary. Cuz it requires definitive curved lines that must be perfect. Not sure my skills are honed up at this point. And I don't think another tape transfer is appropriate.
You can see how things morph as I work! I start out with one thought, one motive. And as I go thru the process....things get filtered out, unspoken stories get inserted. It does seem a bit simplistic. But I am going to leave this piece as is. And this was where I ended up. On Rte. 163.

Listen to 2
Miss Leavens

the 2 miss leavens - rasputina

here we see the two miss leavens
each girl was sixteen years old
kylie died in a car crash in iowa
harriet in an 1815 portrait from connecticut

harriet’s necklace and purse are lined in scarlet rags
kylie’s myspace states that she was a good friend stylized clouds float behind their heads
suggesting the halos that awaited them

the two miss leavens, no doubt in heaven
i paint their portraits on ivory
two perfect likenesses, teenager highnesses
soft focused by death, by history

i am the limner, i make portraits in miniature
these two girls were separated by two hundred years
but still they are sisters

when this you see, remember me
bear me in your mind
what others say when i’m away
speak of me as you find

resigned to dust, don’t pity us
we’re forever pretty and mysterious

Unrelated Events that Relate

Event 1
In writing my last post of despair...I found some healing. I don't know how it works this way, but by admitting my utter loss of creative capabilities publicly and painfully here on the blog, I was able to feel some kind of relief. I felt some guilt...for not re-making the ugly world that I see into the world that I know lies underneath. I felt some prodding from within, and I am not sure why!

Event 2
This weekend, while I sat in a dusty hot garage helping Chris by manning his garage sale for the afternoon, I was approached by a young local woman named Whitney. She quietly asked me if I was the one...who was Chris' girlfriend...who did collage? Why yes, I am....and I wondered why she asked. Apparently Chris had gotten into a conversation with her while was probably picking thru his store for ephemera...and they got into an art conversation. Supportive man that he is, he showed Whitney a couple of the little books that I have made that he had handy at the store. She loved them and was quite happy to chat with me about collage.
Of course, I was happy to talk with her about art, mixed media and the like. I guided her towards magikglasses and this blog so she could find more to see. It was quite uplifting and I felt like a mini super star here in my own town.
But inside my guts were churning, as I admitted to myself that I had been avoiding the table, and silently protesting. Against what I am not sure! I felt like a fake, discussing my "passion" with her when lately I have been doing anything but art. I felt the prodding of my own conscience. I felt the need to get back to work.

Event 3
I am a fan of Rasputina, a boo-hoo cello rock band spearheaded by Melora Creagor. She recently came out with a new CD, Sister Kinderhook, with passionate songs she wrote based on history of the Hudson Valley. The songs are great, and the words really spoke to me. I immediately became enamored of my own local history. I live next to a cemetery and started to look at the gravestones that border my house. There's a particularly interesting one there from a certain Jenny Van Evera...who died in 1805. I am figuring that my house was probably built in the late 1700s....most likely before poor Jenny was laid in her grave. I started reading local history and currently I am reading "Frontiersman of New York"by Jeptha R. Simms Albany, NY 1883 , with oodles of personal accounts of how the Mohawk Valley region was settled. Indian stories. War stories. Interesting to me at the moment for some reason. And to think I HATED history in school.

How the Unrelated Events Relate
After I wrote my sad apologetic blog post, I started some new watercolors. I want to use them in some new works....Works about the Mohawk Valley. Colonial times and old stories. I am excited to be thinking in a different era for a change. The whole Victorian thing I think I have played out enough. The Adirondack thing...well that must also be played out, too. Stumps, dead swamps...they have been replaced by farms and valley views. I am feeling the valley now and a new kinship to the place that I now reside. Whitney made me realize that I have an inner pride about my work and even tho my sensitive nature sometimes prevents me from being a collage powerhouse at times, I am far from done with this medium!
Over the weekend, I made an attempt at some new work. It's hard to change your style, adjust your attitude and produce good work immediately! I struggled. But I stuck with it and actually got 2 pieces started. It felt so good to be expressing myself, but I really feel like I am at the bottom of a long hill. It will take time to create a new vision, with a new style. I came into work this morning, and found a most kind note from co-blogger Steven, prodding me onto good work. How great is it that I have met such a supportive person! I really liked his reasoning! If one stops feeding the cause for good, then the cause for bad will rise up. "They" win. The best thing I can do for mankind is to continue providing creative insight-a reason for hope-wisdom and reflection on the past. Thank you Steven for putting this so succinctly. No wonder you are a professor!
So dear reader, I pry myself out of myself. I plod on the paper. It isn't easy being an artist. But I am compelled.


RACC 2010 Regional Exhibit

I went to the opening reception of this year's juried Regional exhibit at the Rome Arts and Community Center last night. The exhibit was superb with 57 beautiful pieces selected by Mary Murray (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Munson Williams). There was a nice mix of various media, including collage and mixed media. My friend and colleague Tom McCarthy won one of the awards (sponsored by the Rome Sentinal). Congrats Tom (seen here in photo)! Here is a sampling of the works focusing on mixed media and assemblage. The pieces with the large white area and the red circles are by Amy Bartell. The piece with the large reddish swatch is by Michelle Southgate. The assemblage piece is by Dan Bacich (a former student of James Ridlon from Syracuse University -- another great assemblage artist in the style of Joseph Cornell). This exhibit is definitely worth seeing! Enjoy!


Sweet art and kind thoughts

This summer I have been touched by the artistic culinary efforts put forth by two friends. Each made a cake that was very special to me (and others). My friend Linnea Franits created a cake for the reception that her and her husband Wayne hosted for me and Tom after the 60/60 Event at the Everson. She fashioned the cake after a collage I wrote about in my April 10th blog post regarding placing a circular element on a checkerboard background. She decorated the cake in a checkerboard pattern using licorice and then asked me to place the "circular element" (an Oreo cookie) appropriately. I was very touched (tear in eye) by her thoughtfulness. Thank you Linnea!!! The second culinary artwork that I experienced was just this past weekend in Boston. The band that I used to play in while I was in PA all got together for a reunion (from Wisconsin, New York, PA and Mass). The band was named "grimace" and we used to have a sticker of a frog. Heather (our gracious hostess) asked her neighbor if she could create some kind of special cake for the events of the weekend. What a fantastic job Liesl Weiss-Catanzano did for us! We were all very touched by the creation. I am blessed by the friends and creative spirit that surrounds me! Enjoy!


Economy & Collage

It's odd to feel like a stranger on your own blog. However, that's the story today as I take things into my hands and attempt to write here. I feel the rust between my fingers crumbling into the keyboard as I pull myself here to try to make up for lost time.
There's these wonderful people, like Clint Chadsey, who went out of his way to send me the most awesome packet of collage work; and Planet Susannia who also sent me a wad of art to drool on. These gifts bestowed with art love from comrades that I have not yet met...they are treasures that touched my heart and made me stop in my tracks. I wanted to run upstairs to the studio and pour out work like a machine, and send out wonderful packets in return! I wanted to write huge blog posts recommending their work and scan their pieces and show everyone the collage love that I received.
But I didn't.
It's not like I personally am suffering from anything other than the usual inflation, dissatisfaction with politics, and the like. It's me watching everything around me change and grind to a halt. It's the For Rent signs in downtown building windows in every upstate NY town from here to Albany, and from there to Syracuse. It's the slow sales at my fiancé's antique store...It finally has gotten to me. The economy has finally hit me. I have had to take on duties at my day job that require a lot more concentration with the same pay in order to keep that paycheck coming. I have had to step it up for my man Chris, and start helping him during his antique shows, at his store, and now online on his blog-Facebook-Twitter. I have had moments to myself, I admit, and altho I wanted to go upstairs and create, the need to pitch in and help seemed stronger. It's as tho my time has a dollar sign attached to it at the moment, and any deviation into personal enjoyment, creativity or reflection has been denied by the need to make a living. My conscience gets bothered when I sit upstairs cutting papers and painting, when Chris is working 15 hours a day and not getting any sleep worrying about our bills. How can I create?

I am not complaining, mind you! I am simply stating the facts of how it is in the great United State of Julie. I WANT to make. I want to make something. I have tons of really good new photos, and I even think I can see in my mind a new departure for some collage work. However, when the back of my brain is pounding about how we did the Cooperstown Art Show this weekend and how I am supposed to be blogging for Chris about it --hopefully to drum up some new customers and sales-- it's really hard to blog or create without feeling guilty. Like my time is wasted unless I can produce.
I hate that. I hate that to the inner portions of my heart. But I can't seem to stop this horrid feeling that I need to keep busy and pay off any and all debt and do my best to keep Chris' store afloat. I know that our debt is not overwhelming but I am scared of our future country's economy. Scared of how it could get worse. And somehow I feel like I am escaping it all by creating and it just isn't working for me at the moment. I feel the need to help. Not escape.

I am so grateful to Steven for taking up some of the lapses for me. I can't make excuses for my lack of content. But please understand I am busy working in life, trying to make ends meet. Hopefully the oppression I feel will end soon, and I can go up to that table and pour these new feelings out there where they can be more productive!
My blogging days are not over, but perhaps they are overshadowed by oil spills and global disaster in our oceans, credit cards, slow economy and my attempts to keep alive through it all.
Summer love to you all.


Events worth attending!

July 9 - 7:00 Rome Arts and Community Center Regional Fine Arts Exhibit (I saw some of the work and it looks like a great show which includes a number of collage, mixed media and assemblage works).

July 17th - 4:30 "Cazenovia Counterpoint" art exhibit and gallery walk (with LOTS of musical events in the village too. Check out the series of events across a number of days at their website)

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.