Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By combining a vintage poster of Niagara falls with an image of a couple in embrace, it evokes the mood of a bygone era when a visit to the falls was a common honeymoon for people on the east coast.
The collage is done on mini 5" square canvas with some dictionary background paper, an old receipt with some nice handwriting and the quote itself - from Lord Byron:
"Like music on the waters, is thy sweet voice to me".
Please check out the other submissions at gomakesomething.com.
Monday, April 28, 2008
For my altered book gathering yesterday, after doing a massive show and tell (all my Asilmar goodies!) and swapping our books we got to work. We took 8x10" stretched canvases and used these as our substrates - only backwards. So the BACK of the canvas was where we created our collage. The wooden frame becomes, well, the frame. duh. These were SUPER cheap canvases actually bought at the dollar store in Montreal last summer and carried home by me. I think i got a full suitcase full of them. These were stapled on the edges, not the back - so that made it nicer i think.
I started by coating the canvas (the back - inside the frame) with several coats of melted wax to build up the thickness. fyi i use thrift store crock pots to melt beeswax pellets. Stephanie used an electric frying pan and a large block of wax. Both work great - the frying pan definitely melts faster - more surface area. I selected several images from books and magazines for the gals to pick from. I tried to find edgy dark imagery that would evoke the more contemporary art that Stephanie had as samples. The one she is holding above, i created in her class. I passed around the images to our small group of altered book swappers, but as you can see, two of them chose to go with more traditional female forms.
After we placed our images on the canvas, and added a thin coat of wax to seal, we just carved grooves. First a horizon line - which based on Stephanie's work - helps to ground the piece. Then just continued carving around the image, around the background - whatever. I added fine grooves for grass, Shelley added a spiritual aura around hers. On the advice from Stephanie, about how you are NOT supposed to be able to paint on wax, well but you can, although not too thick, we painted on the wax. You need a nice runny fluid acrylic to get into those grooves. Then just lightly brush paint onto the wax - adding extra to the frame surround as you go. Portfolio oil pastels were used to richen the colour and intensify the look. It was interesting how you could take something and really turn it into something else. Shelley's didn't start out looking angelic - but it really became that way. There is so much depth to her piece that came from layering paint on the wax.
Carol took a very normal looking farm house/barn and the water trough and creating a very hauting piece. By separating the images with the wax - it really had a profound effect. Adding the water spout handle was a great final touch. Dorothy took her image and added many more collage elements - stacks of books, a watch face and then feather butterfly wings. Dorothy is a master at adding words to create a narrative - so a phrase clipped out of a typewritten script Shelley brought to share, completed her piece.
Since my staircase and window from Asilomar was so successful, i tried to do the same thing with the wax. I cut and trimmed some stairs from a decorating magazine and included the candleabra at the top. Unfortunatly the candles were too finely detailed for this method and later morphed into a brass birds nest and a bird - with a branch sticking out of it. Well, that's creativity for you - if you screw up - just go in a different direction.
Thanks Stephanie for the inspiration....! Check out her latest techniques in this month's Somerset Studio. She tells us how to create wire bird's cages - i sense a new project idea to share....
We started with a quick demo of coating the canvas board with a thin coat of wax, and layering on background paper. Next i applied the focal point image, in my case a bevy of bathing beauties. The images were all cut out of the matte photo paper, this allows the image to "live" on the new background created by the papers used on the canvas board. A coat of wax on top initially obsure the images, but a few strokes with the small quilt iron smooths the wax leaving the image clearer on the collage.
I next applied some mulberry paper with gives a hint of color and texture, without obscuring the background, in my case a bit of dictionary paper. Then i added a piece of seam binding lace - allowing the wax to build up in the holes. I demonstrated how you can add colour by melting a crayon on the canvas and moving the wax around with the quilt iron. A heat gun is also used to remove excess wax. I added some shells and beach glass along the bottom and the word PLAGE (beach in French) to the top. I kept things pretty linear and simple - since sometimes trying too hard to make things complicated is not any more interesting! A few beads strung on some copper wire added to the top and voila, a beach themed beeswax collage wall hanging.
The students did a fine job creating two canvases. Some chose to do lively bright pieces, some chose simple understated elements. But everyone created artwork to take home they can be proud to display!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Please come and learn the fundamentals of beeswax collage, where no additional glues or adhesives are required to create mixed media collage. We use canvas boards that are further embellished with wire and beads for a funky look. All supplies and tools are provided - so no need to bring anything besides yourself and a creative outlook!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Here are all my purchases:
First booth visited was my dear friend Aileen's Outside the Margins table. Decorated in the wild bright colours that are her signature were many must have items. With my current obsession with birds, i just had to have the little pack of resin birds and the bird themed tissue paper. But mostly she is featuring her Color Mists - water colour sprays that she sells in brights, neutrals and metallics. they are very versatile and fun to use. I chose the special edition "beach set" to add to my collection.
The next booth i dropped a few bucks at was selling all manner of vintage pics, letters, documents and other treasures. If you wanted to spend $150 bucks on a bona fide victorian photo album this was the place to do it. It was like i had died and gone to heaven. I actually said that out loud! However frugality kicked in just in time and i managed to just purchase a lovely vintage photo, a stack of love letters, and an official document with those notary stamps i don't really understand but they look cool. Sorry I didn't catch her name! If she sells on line and reads this - please let me know.
NOTE: Chris at Boulder Creek Antiques will be opening an etsy shop this week - stay tuned!
Next was _Kit Davey____ (need to verify who!) where i purchased the awesome book person or whatever you want to call it - very cool idea. You can see in the image above how she took a vintage book and wired on found objects (she actually told me most of it was FOUND as in on the road!)
The sun was setting outside the vendor night venue - so i had to stop shopping long enough to grab a few shots of the yellow sun fading into the ocean.
Next up was marianne letierri where i bought the great book about - guess what? BUYING STUFF. No actually it is about artists and their collections and obsessions - just like i have have! One of the the students at this event, marianne has a spread in the book about her art. If you like flea markets and eye candy to you means a stack of vintage suitcases - then you'll love this book.
I also bought some clown doll heads from one guy and some precut mica from another - but didn't catch their names and the products weren't labelled. But you'd know them if you saw them. I bought some fun gold paper wire or whatever they call it from ____ (i have to remember her name goshdarnit).
And finally i couldn't NOT buy a pendant charm from Sally Jean, the solder queen. Her booth was probably the busiest all night - so maybe by the time i got there all the good stuff was gone. If you have seen Faulty Towers, then maybe you'll get the significance of this phrase, "it's always the bottom with you". Well that's what i thought about when i saw it - so i bought it!
Lastly the vendor night was also about the silent auction. There were pieces to bid on from several of the artist instructors. But most notably was one of the fat books for bid - the windswept themed little book with 30 artists pages all spiral bound together. Would you believe it sold for $80! The money went to a good cause, the Salvation Army. I never felt so proud....!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
One of the really special things about the art retreats is the chance to meet so many like minded people. You are not the only one hording art supplies and ephemera and more types of glue than they stock at Michaels or Joann's combined. One of the ways to meet all these people is by swapping your own art projects with theirs. Sunday night at Asilomar was meet and greet and swap night. I situated myself at a table with Aileen and Carol and the trading period was officially opened. As a newbie - i was not sure what to expect. Here is how it works:
1. You arrange what you have to swap on the table.
2. People approach you and say - do you want to trade?
3. You say yes.
4. They give you something they made - or offer you a choice.
5. You give them something YOU made - or offer them a choice.
...or - if you prefer - you can be the one going around from table to table offering your trades!
It is that simple! I had heard about art retreats with snobbish people shunning the trades on inferior artists. That certainly was NOT the case at Asilomar. Nobody once took a look at what i had to offer and decided NOT to swap with me. Some people were unsure if there trades were worthy - but i was delighted with whatever i received. It is like christmas and your birthday all wrapped up in one beautiful two hour period!
I ended up with 36 really cool things. I guess I brought about 40 things to swap - 25 of the little dictionary book-laces described in an earlier post, and about 15 ATC's. I also had some beeswax collage wall hangings on standby, to swap in case there was a "second tier" of more elaborate trades - but there really wasn't. I ended up trading a couple of those on the last night when i ran out of mini books.
The trades fall into four broad categories:
1. ATC's - surely the most common trade - there were some really detailed and elaborate cards - some quite simple. Most followed the "by the sea" theme as established by Art and Soul for their 2008 retreats.
2. Goody bags - the most self deprecating trades - as in - "i just have a bag of stuff" - but you know what? I LOVE getting these! It is like a little bag of treats - you never know what you are going to get - but there is bound to be something fun inside.
3. Cards - hand made cards- or larger sized collages were fun to get. Each of the ladies trading these offered me a stack to choose from - oh man it was really hard to pick - they were so beautiful.
4. Non paper hand made stuff - this was the most surprising category. In included some pins, some beaded charms, a lavender sachet, a felt purse, some vintage button magnets, and from a lovely lady, a little glass ball filled with fibers in a little box. Included were some inspirational words you can sit on top of the ball and set it on your desk. I was amazed at the work people put into their trades - and the originality and clever way things were packaged.
All in all it was one of the best aspects of the art and soul experience for me. I have no idea what i will do with all these little treasures. I do tend to hoard things. Perhaps they will find their way into other art projects. Like the sourdough bread starter they say has been growing for over a hundred years, these little pieces of art will sow the seeds for art to come.
One last note for anyone planning to attend an event like this and plans to offer trades - PLEASE include your name and contact info on the back. And if our paths cross again - please let me know if you have one of my trades and whether or not you added images to the little book to complete your visual dictionary.
Here are some pics of the grounds at Asilomar. It is quite beautiful and natural. There are deer roaming the grounds - got quite close to this one - clearly they are used to people sharing the property.
Here are the trees at Lover's Point in Pacific Grove, which is right next to Asilomar, just south of Monterey. We had a lovely much at Lattitudes - right opposite this view, before checking into art and soul. I had read the food was terrible - so i wanted one last decent meal. It was very tasty.
The meals at Asilomar are not as bad as i read, but pretty basic and institutional. They ring a bell at 7:30am, 12 noon and 7:00pm to summon you to the Crocker dining hall. You can hear the bell from around the facility and everyone makes there way to eat. One day i took a detour to the beach - just across the road. They have done a lot to restore and now preserve the dunes. People are asked to stay on the boardwalks and not risk damaging the wild flowers.