Saturday, April 22, 2006

Feeling my age

I finally had to suck it up and start wearing reading glasses. I am only 42 but my eyes are getting older. I wear contacts and am very near sighted. I am actually legally blind without corrective lenses. They do not have laser surgery for my degree of nearsightedness yet. It is alos not a cheap procedure and not covered by insurance. I guess all those years of reading all the time and especially in dim light has taken its toll on my eyes. Staring at a computer for hours on end does not help either. It is also genetics. Chinese people are notoriously near sighted. Makes our almond eyes look more squinty. I am not looking forward to the day when I will need bifocals. Maybe science will have advanced so much by that time that I would not need them at all. I count my blessings and know that this is one of my lesser chronic issues. Wearing reading glasses makes me look a little bit older and more like a granny. Maybe being humbled once in awhile is a good thing for me.

Many Faces of Jonathan Talbot - Layers

I did this for a challenge for the Midwest Collage Society and decided to turn it into a postcard to send to Jonathan Talbot. Do we not all have many layers and different textures? Do we not want to reach out and touch those layers and feel the textures? Are some of them hidden? Do some of them not want to come out? What happens when they do? Is it those layers and textures within ourselves that prevent us from accomplishing what we want to do? Do those layers fold back in when we desire something but are afraid to reach out and grab it? Do the textures allow us to reach out and take hold? There are many books and cards and other stuff out there aimed at finding our different selves within us. I really wonder though if I really want to know who they are. Do you really want to know what is there if you peeled back the layers?

Back to the postcard, I thought of Jonathan right away when I did this for the challenge. He had a lot of layers that he peeled back and exposed during his workshop.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Altered Cabinet Card postcards

It seems to be all the rage now since it appeared in Cloth Paper Scissors. I had some after doing a project with one of my homebound art friends. I figured I might as well put them to good use. Of course, I put my own spin on it - Zetti style.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Many Faces of Jonathan Talbot - Cornell Self

Here is my latest series in my mail art to him. I thought of this after the workshop. He told us so much about himself that I thought it would be great to turn it into a mailart series. During the workshop, he told us about when he first starting selling his artwork. Many of his pieces were inspired by Joseph Cornell. I am a Joseph Cornell fan myself. I used one of those fake frames from a scrapbook store I was in while buying some cardstock. The background license plates are from a sheet that I am using to make faux license plates with copper tape for my found object jewelry. I have to fudge a bit since license plates don't come that small. All the images were from things I had laying around. Check back periodically and I will have more added to the series.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Found object necklace

Okay, so I fudged a little bit. I love the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" little Japanese girls. Most of the other objects are found objects. I put together different pieces of chain that I had left over from various things that I no longer wear. You can also go to somewhere like Hobby Lobby or Michaels and get a chain for about $2-3. I used different jump rings to attach the objects to the chain. I used a Dremel to cut the folding rulers into small pieces and for drilling the hole into the ruler piece. A Dremel is an artist's friend. I don't know how many times I have used it for when I do assemblage. Just be careful because it is a tool that can do a lot of damage to your body if not used correctly. If you are going to do this, then make sure you try it on often to see if you like the placement of your objects. Do not put the objects too high up on either side. I took the wheels and the axles off of the little cars before drilling a hole and attaching. Oh, the patina on the metal objects. Some of them looked too new, so I put them in some salt and vinegar potato chips. If you love metals like I do, then you should take a look at Linda and Opie O'Brien's new book, Metal Craft Discover Workshop...I got the salt and vinegar potato chip thing from them. I sanded the little metal pieces. I then crunched up a bag of salt and potato chips. I put the metal in a salt water solution and then put the metal in a plastic bowl. Cover the metal with the chips. Mist well with water, cover, and let sit for several days. You get the best patina and aging without having to leave it outside or running it over with a car (one of my friends does that). The metal rings and washers looked brand new before I put them in the chip thingie. You may want to do it in small batches because picking out the chips was kind of a pain in my butt. Make sure you rinse it well to get the salt and chips off of the pieces. If you are allergic to mold like I am, then you will also want to make sure you scrub off any mold that might be on the metal due to the moldy, wet chips. I am actually very happy with this piece. Now I will have to make another one for a friend who is an asian fan. After that will be the companion bracelet to this necklace...maybe.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Recognition Self

I got this idea while sitting down and waiting of my allergist. I wrote down all the things I learned about Jonathan Talbot during the 2 day workshop. I wrote down what he told us and things that we did. I was amazed at how much information I had actually retained. I thought that I would send him some mail art in response to what he told us about himself. I thought this would be a really fun project for me because I love doing mail art. I found out that he did, too.

Sometime during the second day, he told us a story about how he started getting depressed on the road. It was about how he worried that he would not be a world renowned artist while still alive. So, he polled some people to name some famous living artist. We all laughed when people named Thomas Kinkade. So, when I saw this piet, I thought instantly of him.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I was deeply saddened this last Thursday and Friday. I was so affected by what happened that for the first time in 3 years of teaching - I did not want to be a teacher anymore. I have never felt that way before. I have had my share of behavior students. I have never had such a bad problem with stealing before. I had arranged a yo-yo assembly as a drug-free activity. I was supposed to sell yo-yos all last week as a follow-up to the assembly. I found 2 of them missing on Thursday. It had to have been one or more of my students. I searched everywhere and could not find them. I find out on Friday that there was at least 2 separate stealing incidences in my room. I was so saddened that one or more students could steal from me after being in our classroom for so long. We have been together for 8 months now. I spend more time with them than with my real kids. I think I provide an educationally challenging environment. We do many interesting, educational, yet fun activities. I do a monthly movie and snack. I guess it was not enough. Is it a case of more, more, more? It was the first time that I felt such despair. This led me to create this piece. As soon as I saw this pict, I knew that this was how I felt. No matter what I said or did, it would not stop them from doing whatever they wanted. It did not matter what I could have said or done, their characters allowed them to do such a thing. I felt betrayed and deeply saddened. It will be business as usual tomorrow. We are starting on a new writing project. Only this time, I will be more leery and keeping an eye on things more. I should not have to do that. I want to go back to being naive.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

More on Jonathan Talbot...and me

At first, I was going back and forth about even taking this workshop. I had recently completed an all day workshop with Laura Lein-Svencner. She did a great job showing me the technique that Jonathan uses on his collages. I learned quite a bit from her and it reconfirmed my desire to pursue collage and assemblage. I decided that it was an opportunity that I could not pass up. I always learn something at every workshop I go to. This was by far the most different workshop I had ever attended. I finally figured out that it was because Jonathan teaches to the students that want to do the more fine (higher-end) art. There is nothing wrong with ABs, ATCs, fat books, etc...but you would not take Jonathan Talbot for that. His whole approach was different. I have never met a person with so many layers. He revealed so many of them in the two days we were together for the workshop. He gave me this art project idea that I can't get out of my head. I keep coming back to it. I am going to pursue it. You will see the ongoing results in future blog entries. I think that you should take Jonathan's workshop if you are serious about being a collage artist. I don't think that you necessarily have to use his technique with polymer medium and tack iron. I think that you will come away with a commitment to do more with your art. I know that I have.

I have been vascillating between doing collage/assemblage and continuing with fat books, ATCs, etc...After taking the workshop, I have decided that it is time to move onto the next phase in my art journey and leave the fat books and ATCs behind. I am not saying that I am never going to do them again. I will. I am grateful for all the friends and support I have gotten through the groups and the projects. I am just going to leave them behind as a primary focus. I was getting tired of doing them anyway. I am going to finish off all my current projects and focus on collage and assemblage. I really enjoy doing book shrines and will continue to do that. I will continue to explore my "outsider art" side through collage and assemblage. I am going to try and exhibit more. I have cut down on my Yahoo groups. I am only going to be active in a few of them. I am going to try and get my online business up and running.

I have to tell you that it is not a common thing for me to be so reflective after a workshop. I usually just have fun at workshops, learn a technique or two, and have some "me" time. After Laura's and Jonathan's workshops, I refocused my direction. I feel more centered in what I want to accomplish with my art. Now with the school year almost over (the next couple of months will fly by). I am going to spend my time trying to get some pieces done for an exhibit this fall. I will never give up teaching and sharing online completely. It is in my blood. I am actually more in my groove teaching when I am groovin' in my art.

Back to Jonathan Talbot. He was a very introspective person. You will not be rushed along to the next thing. He will work with you to reach your expectations. The pacing is slower in this workshop than in others I have attended. He supplies top shelf supplies and is not skimpy on anything. He is a great hostess. He provided us with some great snacks. I don't know about the others but I got a lot out of this workshop. I learned quite a bit about technique and about collage. I have no intentions of turning his style into mine. I do want to take what he has given me and turn it into my own by adapting it with what I enjoy doing. I loved that he used quite a bit of Joseph Cornell in his early works. I love that Joseph Cornell used so many found objects in his pieces. The best part of the workshop was when I was kicking out mini collages one after another. I do my best work when I just do it instead of overthinking it.

I do recommend the transfer paper that he sells through his site. The paper is great for transfers and the cloudy film from the paper is much less than with regular paper used for laser copies. I need to get a toner copier for transfers. One more thing to save up for, eh?

Okay, I am done for now. I need to go and get a cup of tea.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jonathan Talbot Workshop

I need to do this before I forget the details. I was at the allergist's office on Tuesday after school waiting to see the doctor. I took that time and wrote down little notes for myself about what happened and what he talked about. I was amazed how much I learned about him in two days. His demeanor and his personality is so different from other artists and their workshops. I wondered if it is because his day job is being an artist. So many of us have day jobs which are a departure from art. I would like my only day job to be an artist one day.

Jonthan was very generous with the supplies. He also brought things to be sold that he uses in his workshops. He is efficient in the sense that he has everything needed and ready for the workshop. Do not expect him to be one to hurry you along to the next thing. He was also very flexible on time on the first day. He was a great hostess. He brought us snackies for breakfast and for during the day on both days. He also takes power naps to refresh himself while we are busy completing a project.

The first day started out a little slowly for me. He spent a lot of time getting to know our names and to find out what we wanted to get out of the workshop. We started out working on mat board and created collages using polymer medium and a tack iron. Putting the polymer medium on was kinda messy work. Some also did transfers. Polymer medium and heat is a great way to do transfers. I really recommend getting his acrylic image transfer paper. The back of the paper comes off easily and there is way less residue than with other kinds of paper. I did one serendipity collage where I will cut it into smaller pieces. Jonathan was nice enough to cut small mat windows out for me. I will scan that and put that on when I am ready to cut it into smaller pieces. Some people stayed very late that evening. I went home pretty early since I had not seen the kids all day. Cindy and I were pretty tired, too. I had been sick the night before and was still feeling pretty bad throughout the day.

The second day started out kind of rushed. I woke up feeling much more human. I got up at 6 am feeling like I had all the time in the world. I sat down to check my e-mail and saw that it was 7 am. I forgot about the time change! I ran around and got ready. I called Cindy and then rushed out the door. We finished up the collages from the first day and then did mini collages on watercolor paper. Instead of it being just collage, we used paint and other elements. I did mine with "line" in mind since I was doing a line exercise in Collage Explorations this week. In between, we did a composition exercise. I also brought in my mail art collection so other people could see what mail art was.

Out of the two days, I enjoyed the second day more. I like the mini collages more because I can do them quickly and without too much thought. I like to start several at once and see where it takes me. I found out how much I like the gold foil. It really adds to the finished product. I went a little nuts with it in one of my collages. I think that I will have to cut that down.

Was it worth it? Definitely. I had taken a similar workshop last month learning this collage technique last month at Artful Gatherings. I still wanted to take this workshop to meet Jonathan Talbot and to see what I could learn from him. I learned quite a few new things. Some art related and some not.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Second day at Talbot workshop

I was pretty sick on the first day of the workshop and did not absorb as much as I would have liked. I felt much more human on the second day. I will have a more complete review of the workshop when I have some more time. Need to go and organize my tax stuff and get ready for school.

What do I want to be known for?

I thought about a lot of things after going to the Jonathan Talbot workshop. During the workshop, he brought up how he would like to be remembered. That got me to thinking about how I would like to be remembered. I had always thought that it would be great if I became a famous artist. Okay, that is nice, but in what context? Would I be famous all over the world or just in the art world that I exist in? It was all so relative. Kind of like how art is relative. Well, I gave it more thought. I think it would be great if I could sell my art as quickly as I could make it. That would not be realistic though. I would love it if people would enjoy my art enough to purchase it.

I would like to be remembered as a teacher who made a difference. I want past students of mine from so many years ago to come back and tell me that being their teacher made a difference in their lives. I want to know what things they learned that helped them to become the person that they were today. I want to be remembered as a good mom. Most of all, I want to be remembered as an artist who shared and tried to help other artists reach their potential. I have gone through many phases with my art. I now feel comfortable enough to sell my pieces and to begin to exhibit them. Even though I have gone on to a different phase in my art self, I keep coming back to the Yahoo groups. I continue to start new groups and cannot completely separate myself from them to concentrate on my art.

Once a group gets going and self-sufficient, I start another Yahoo group. I know that I count on them for friendships with people I have never even met. I know that I look to some of the groups for affirmation and support. I just did not realize until recently that perhaps this is what I was meant to do. Maybe there is a reason why I am so drawn to sharing techniques and teaching in this virtual world. I spend most of my waking hours hours helping my students reach their potential and to discover what their talents are. That is just extended to the Yahoo groups. I depend upon the artists in the groups for support, affirmation, and information. I have an access to a world that would otherwise be unable to me if I did not have a computer. I have only begun to realize how much my art self has grown since I have been doing different things in the groups. I have developed friendships locally that I otherwise might not have, since it was through a Yahoo group that got us meeting together in the first place. I would not have been able to cultivate friends and contacts that I have today. Now, I can turn to them for the support and affirmation that I need.

I wonder how many others are like me who depend on the Yahoo groups for support, affirmation, and information. I know that many artists are quite isolated by location or by circumstances. Some are retired. Some are disabled. Many have multiple chronic illnesses. Some don't have access to local art supplies - not even a Michael's or a Joann's. Does art take away their daily stresses? Does it make them forget about their arthritis or pains for just a little while?

While it would be great to sell my pieces, I want to be remembered as an artist who helped to bring out the potential in other artists.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

These are the two collages that I did today in the Jonathan Talbot Workshop. The collage against the black looked too stark, so I put on white gesso on all. Quite different, aren't they? I am going to use the left one in my line exercise for this week.