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!!!



This is not the greatest photo of this latest piece of mine. I decided to try my hand at assemblage again after finding this lovely shadow box at a garage sale. This is the "last entry" into my show at MVCA in Little Falls. Opening reception is THIS SUNDAY from 2-4:00. Hope to see you there! Enjoy (now or on Sunday ;-)


3 Ring Circus of Huntington

A commission piece I did for a friend of mine. Some friends of hers recently got married and bought a house in Huntington, NY. They got married with a circus theme, and he loves music.
I get really stressed working on commission. The worry of whether or not someone will like this or not makes every ephemera choice so daunting.


New York State Fair

I was very happy last night to see that collage/mixed media was well-represented in the Fine Arts exhibit at the State Fair. The Second Place prize in the Professional category went to Kathie Beale for her work entitled "Yosemite Collage" and yours truly won First Place in the Amateur category. There was a piece in the Embroidery category of the Arts & Crafts exhibit that won First Place and was collage-like as well. My good friend Tom Nettle received an Honorable Mention in the Amateur Photography exhibit. I hate to say it, but it was my first experience with the Fine Arts Exhibit at the Fair and I must say, I was very impressed with all of the entries!


Steven Specht at MVCA

I am happy to report on the upcoming show of our fellow collagist Steven Specht! The very guest writer of this blog is having a show of his collage work from September 11 - October 11 at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (which btw, has recently updated their website!)
Besides assisting me in keeping this blog afloat, Steven has a juicy list of credentials...

"Steven Specht is Professor of Psychology at Utica College. Dr. Specht has exhibited works at a number of venues in Central New York State including the Salmon River Fine Arts Gallery (at which he won “Popular Best in Show”), Kirkland Arts Center, Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (at which he won the “Solo Exhibition Award”) and the juried Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute Sidewalk Show. He has also shown works nationally at the juried exhibit of the National Collage Society (NCS) and won a cash award in 2009 for his work at the NCS annual “Wish You Were Here” postcard show. He recently had work on exhibit at the Climate Gallery in New York City and at the 17th Annual International Salon of Contemporary Collage in Paris, France."

I love knowing that there are other creatives living nearby. I am glad this show is close to home and look forward to going to this show. Good luck on the show Steven!

More info at the MVCA webpage for this exhibition.


Iterations - Reiterations

Tall House on Blaine: post Jitter

The watercolors I have been working on have finally started to weigh on me. There is such constraint involved. The most delicate touch is required on my part in order to play with these sensitive paints. I am still working on various local buildings, and each time painting, repainting and trying to achieve specific looks. It's a slow and tedious process, but also so rewarding. These paintings are ongoing, it's part of my process.
The collagista in me is hungry, and in the shadows she lurks waiting for the chance to pounce. That first chance came today. I located the demo version of MAX/Jitter and loaded it. "Prepare yourself for 30 intensive days!", I told myself, as I loaded it and began to explore.
Immediately the things I learned years ago came back to me, and within an hour or two I was creating new masterpieces that I can re-interpret.
Tall House on Blaine: after another reiteration in Jitter
These will be printed on various stock and from various printers. The next step is to move to the collage table, cut and tear these up, and paste them with...a fresh new watercolor...and ???

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.