Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cutting Paper as Inspiration

Too many years ago, I took a photography class and one of my favorite images was a still life of a pomegranate. I love pomegranates as a food and as inspiration for my work.

Last month, while visiting the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena California, I found a very nice pomegranate with fruits left from the fall. The fruits were very small and bursting open showing glistening seeds.

I often work on new images by cutting solid black paper with a sharp blade to see the negative and positive space created. All the paper cuts are saved in a large sketchbook full of only black and white images. Each small piece of paper is glued down to the sketchbook, sometimes this is easier said than done. Tweezers and the tip of the cutting blade help maneuver the pieces into place. I have also been known to scan these and "fix" them up in PhotoShop.

I loved this image and worked a bit studying the form and shape. I usually don't work directly from photographs but use a set of photographs to inspire new shapes and forms. In this case, I worked from that small fruit in the photo.

Sometimes these simple pieces become stencils just as they are cut, and sometimes I re-work the shapes many times to get a more detailed image for more complicated printing tools. And sometimes they live in the sketchbook for awhile until I get inspired again with the image. Right now there are about 6 paper cuts of pomegranates waiting to be used in the creation of some project.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On to the next Journal Notebook

I have been carrying around altered composition books for a few years now, yesterday I filled up the current one. I make these using simple "composition" notebooks with either lined or graph paper - from the office supply store. The last one was embellished with some paper printed by cleaning out print screens - the paper is also great for quick collage or whatever. For me, it is a nice way to have an example of my art with me all the time.

These journals serve as a place to write down notes, make quick sketches, save phone numbers and email addresses and scribble if i get bored in meetings. I only have one book running at a time, so if I can remember either what the cover looked like or the time I wrote something down it is a simple filing system, unless like 3 years ago I lost one in a stack of books for 6 months.

So, today I am starting a new book. This one is a smaller blank book I found on a sale table at the bookstore, and I pasted scraps of paper on the cover and gilt the spine with copper leaf.

This one should keep me company for a few months, and the bright colors will make it easy to pick out from the stack of books on the coffee table.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pretty in Pink??

Quite a while ago I invited a group of artist friends to participate in a Sewn Art Sketchbook. Each of us created "pages" for our own book - made from whatever we liked and in the size we wanted our completed book. The pages themselves were really diverse and wonderful, we had painted canvas with sewn frames, black felted wool, painted watercolor paper, silk organza laminated with tissue patterns and tomato fencing, painted batting etc. Each artist then created a theme for the book and created the first page - or spread and then exchange in round robin fashion.

Our intention was to create a page a month until each of us had finished all the books - and then have a great celebration when we were done. Of course life got in the way and it took longer than we thought to complete the project. But last month we finally finished all the pages and each of us have a great collection of work done by great artists and friends.

As I received each page I attempted to create a piece to interpret my impression of the book's artist.

Here is one of the pages I did - for a wonderful artist and friend - I am posting it simply because it is appropriate for this weekend, because it is a Valentine.

This mixed media piece started on with a piece of fabric laminated with papers and dyed red, then over painted with different interference paints. The small Chinese coins - one for each month of the year, were stitched on with a small piece of cording I made using recycled silk and threads. Finally I stitched the collage onto the canvas page with pearle cotton.

Happy Valentine's Day.