Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Theme Thursday Challenge: Beauty

How could you go wrong with such a theme? Here's my digital collage, "Timeless Beauty."  The lovely lady is from Paperwhimsy.  I made this tonight in lieu of redding up my basement workspace (still quite chilly down there in late March), because I was just too tired! Tomorrow is another day...where have I heard that before?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pour epater les bourgoisie

Since Collagitation includes agitation, here is a little something to stir things up, made on Polyvore for Theme Thursday's "Masculine" challenge. Rated "P" for "Play." Sports, science, guns, booze...what more could a guy ask for?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Having invented the word “Collagitation” as the name for my current artistic endeavor, this Saturday morning I gave some thought to what meanings that word holds for me, and what guides to my artistic direction I could find in it.

This came out of working on my real Collagitation Blog header (under construction.) The woman’s face, above, is my own version of an image widely used in contemporary altered art. In fact, she has a collagitation pedigree! The original face (said to be based Edwardian-era opera singer Lina Cavalieri) inspired the great designer Piero Fornasetti to create his “Tema e Variazioni” collection of hundreds of ceramic plates, each adorned with a variation of the original face. I’m using my variation of her partly in homage to Fornasetti, whose work I love. Just for fun, I added that little thought balloon in response to the somewhat puzzled expression I gave her. I don’t know if it will appear in the final product, but it got me thinking about—what is Collagitation, anyway?

Semantically, Collagitation is a portmanteau of “collage” and “cogitation” (with some “agitation” occasionally thrown in.) All of which reflects my love of words, if nothing else! When I try to write I often have to avoid sounding pompous or like a 19th c treatise, because I so love using “big words” and elongated phrases, the results of a life time of continuous broad reading. I also like the idea of an invented word, an absurd word, in the surrealist sense (an oxymoron, yippee!), because of course surrealism is integral to collagitation. Therein lies its simple essence: playing with images, to alter their meanings and associations, as in all classic collage and, currently, altered art. It is fantasy art, but unlike the formal genre of that name, it does not use realistic methods to render imaginary worlds, but rather interjects the fantastic into the “real” world, to amuse, or alarm, and always (hopefully) to offer witty visual food for thought.

There were/are many masters of collagitation from whom to draw inspiration, as well as sheer pleasure from viewing their work. One of my favorites is surrealist Max Ernst, who created the incredible collage novel, Une Semaine de Bonté. Anyone interested in 20th c art is familiar with Ernst, but I am always surprised that Fornasetti is much less well known. I assume this is because he was primarily a designer and so his work is not given the same weight as that of “pure” artists. Go figure. If you are unfamiliar with the work of this modern master, do yourself a favor and visit the official website, You will need to play with the bee on the woman’s face to enter the site, have fun!

Pondering my current work in light of my aspirations for Collagitation, it is clear I need to step things up a bit. Not only in terms of amount of work produced, but especially in the quality. As I continue to refine my signature style and to create work worth offering for sale, I realize that I must go way beyond ATCs and match-box shrines. Also, in working so much recently with these very egalitarian, accessible forms, am I “dumbing down” my work? Or, am I merely following in a style that others have been putting forth for years? Hopefully, if I am being inspired and/or influenced, it is by the best of this type of work (because God knows there’s plenty of abysmal “art” to be seen on the internet), and also creating work that is distinctly “mine,” like the Burning Heart ATC. As for the format, what is the size limit of a piece of real art? That’s a no-brainer!

I think part of this interior discussion (which I am attempting to externalize here) comes out of running into an old acquaintance last night at a Squonk Opera performance. Patricia has been doing cutting-edge and conceptual work for decades, and next Fall she has a show at Pittsbugh Center for the Arts, one of the region’s premier art exhibition spaces. Envious? You bet. But also inspired, and happy for her that her career is going so well and she continues to be so productive. And, chatting with her got me thinking more about the direction I want to take my own work. Which is, for now, a store on Etsy. Beyond that…we’ll see.

Obviously, Collagitation is going to require much thought and hard work. Here I am!

Recommended Reading:
Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams by Patrick Mauriés (1991, Little Brown & Co)
Une Semaine de Bonté by Max Ernst (1934; currently available through Dover Publications)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sing For Spring!

Spring is a week from this coming Sunday! In my yard, the birds are already singing up a storm, and the deer are no doubt eagerly watching for the first tulips to show their heads (annual spring snack.) Here is my visual song for Spring! This was done for Theme Thursday's Spring challenge.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Mysteries of HTML

Today I decided it was time I spiffed up the blog a bit. I found some nice backgrounds on, which I figure will do until I can create my own (time to dust off copy of  HTML For Beginners.) Well, I think it looks better than it did, but it certainly doesn't look like the sample on hotbliggityblog. Of course I'm not sure why.

I've read that one way to keep your mind sharp as you age is to be continuously learning new things. So I should be in pretty good shape by the time I'm in my 80s!

Friday, March 5, 2010

ART Forever #2

I thought maybe the text in the first "Art forever" piece needed a bit more punch. Here's another version...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Weekend in Photoshop Hell

For many weeks now, I have been attempting to execute a banner for my soon-to-be-opened Collagitation shop on Etsy. This weekend would’ve gone a lot better had I spent those weeks intensively learning Photoshop! In fact, I’ve been puttering around with PS for a several years, and shame on me for admitting that in all that time, I’ve never worked with it systematically or gotten beyond 1% of the basics. Then just last week, Community College of Allegheny County’s adult ed dept. informed me that the PS class I’d signed up for was again cancelled—for the 3rd year in a row! (Do they keep offering it just to taunt me???)

In light of this, I finally realized last night that if I can’t get the banner to look the way I want due to my digital art limitations, for crying out loud, simplify the blasted design for now and get on with it! But no, I spent the better part of 2 precious days trying this, trying that, furiously googling every PS tutorial on the web (or so it seemed) vainly attempting yet again to make sense of Adobe’s own manual… I even blush to say it, but I started fiddling around in MS Paint, for crying out loud, until I realized it would take me months to get anywhere. *SIGH* I remember someone saying once that all artists have at least a little OCD in their personalities. This weekend proved it for me.

So I am taking my own belated advice and doing a simpler banner the old fashioned, scissors and glue method, and scanning it in. Unless…maybe…maybe if I find a simpler digital solution, right?? Where’s my mouse---! Noooooooooo!!!


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