Tuesday, June 29, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 28, 2010: The Sibyl

Sibyls predict the future. Perhaps this one bodes well for my continuation of 3SIXTY5. She worked up pretty quickly, gaining me an extra hour or so of sleep!

Monday, June 28, 2010

3SIXTY5 for Sunday, June 27, 2010; Santo_omingo

Having recently read an article on the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation, I decided I must somehow streamline my art-making methods if I'm going to survive the year. Easier said than done! This and my swan piece were supposed to be a new direction, but this one looks a lot like my other work--and I still didn't get to bed before midnight. I must learn to love empty space!! Randel Plowman at acollageaday.blogspot is a master of artfully deployed "blank" space, which is never really empty, just not cluttered. Actually, my cluttered collages are my "signature style", but  it takes too much time to manage all that imagery for daily production. So I will try to become a diva of editing--at least for now.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

3SIXTY5 for Saturday, June 26: Sacred Creature

I've loved this swan image from Audubon forever, trimmed it out ages ago, but hadn't used it. Today while sifting through boxes and folders of pictorial material, I happened to carelessly lay it upon an image of crosses in Westminster Abbey. Something clicked. I added the blackletter border and I am quite happy with it. However, the scan does not do it justice, the tonal variations are too subtle. *sigh* I may try taking a photo instead.

3SIXTY5 for Friday, June 25: Lovely Ladies

Another piece about beautiful insects. And Paris, of course!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 24, 2010: Where Beauty Hides

I found this beautiful bug online* and made this little piece to showcase him (the original is 6x4".) There are some truly amazing critters in our yards and gardens that go unnoticed because they are small, and often hiding. One summer I saw a pair of insects on some foliage. They were greyish, and had purple fringed tutus and and head-dresses, the likes of which I'd never seen before or since. I called them frou-frou bugs because of their frilly, colorful outfits. (I wish I had gotten a photo!) Another time, while pruning a forsythia bush, I found a most remarkable spiky spider, which I did get photos of (albeit out of focus):
I did some research online and found out that she is a micrathena sagittata, and harmless--although she certainly doesn't look it!

Every summer I find a few tiny beetles that look like a drop of molten gold on the ground. This must be their attract-a-mate mode, because if disturbed, they turn to dull brown. Which is what always happens when I try to get close up with my digital camera to try a photo. Amazing!

*I know it's terrible web etiquette not to ackowledge where images come from, but I have so much material floating around my worktable, I often lose track of sources once stuff is printed out. Sorry!

3SIXTY5 for June 23, 2010: The Conjurer

Tonight's collage was a simple little thing that I thought would work up really fast, but just dragged on forever--arrrgghh!! It is, however, a collage, so I offer it as my entry in Theme Thursday's "make a collage" fest. Maybe I'll like it better after I get some sleep. Gonna be a rough day at work tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Woodland Library"--the Polyvore gods relent.

Woodland Library_062210Fashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Woodland Library_062210 by diakea on Polyvore.com

Here is the digital collage I had intended to post yesterday, which disappeared after I created it on Polyvore.com. I was hopping mad!! But whatever happened, tonight when I went to the site, there was my little Woodland Library, looking sort of like an illustration from a children's book and none the worse for its hiatus in a digital black hole. In gratitude, I left the Polyvore link intact, so if you click on the image, you will go to their site, wherein you'll see all the elements that I combined to make the work (what they call a "set"). However, that it is not quite how I envisioned the piece.  Because, for one thing, PV has a limit as to how many selections you can include in a set (50, including "clones"). Not quite like limiting the number of brushstrokes you can use in a painting, but still hampering.  Not that I haven't done things on PV, most of them for 3SIXTY5, that I consider to be very good. This just isn't one of them. For this vision, I wanted a lot more depth and detail than I could achieve on PV. But hey, it's still fun! Nothing wrong with that!

Monday, June 21, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 21, 2010: The Great Eye

Three Muses' next challenge, which actually begins this Wednesday, is on the subject of "Eyes." I am therefore jumping the gun, but tonight's piece of laboriously-produced digital collage somehow ended up in Polyvore electronic never-never land. WTF!? So I am presenting this work, in tribute to the god Horus, as my collage-a-day for today, as well as my offering for the TM "Eyes" challenge. Thanks for looking!

3SIXTY5 for June 20, 2010: Heavenly Bird

Sunday, June 20, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 19, 2010: Bad Dream

Well, this piece is pretty dire and intense. Fortunately, it does not reflect any actual dreams I've had (that I can recall.)  I love using marbled papers for collage work. I took a workshop in paper marbling back in 1986, but didn't pursue the craft long enough to get good at it. However, I have a stash of  hand-marbled papers that I acquired for a ridiculously low price when a local book binder closed up shop 30 years or so ago, which has been satisfying my marbled paper needs ever since.

3SIXTY5 for June 18, 2010: 44 cent Thoroughbred

I thought is was so cool that the post office chose to do a stamp honoring the great racehorse, Seabiscuit. The large horse image is not, alas, Seabiscuit himself. What was I thinking? At any rate, here he is:

If you've never read Laura Hillenbrand's book, Seabiscuit:  An American Legend, you don't know what you're missing. It is far more than a book about horse racing. It is a beautifully written documentation of the America of that era, one of those books that puts you right there. I highly recommend it. 

I have literally hundreds of canceled Seabiscuit stamps, which came from the responses to a research survey conducted by one of the doctors I work for. Every day when I'd put stacks of Seabiscuited envelopes on her desk, I'd be thinking that here must be fodder for art making! So I expect there'll be more Seabiscuit art appearing on this blog in the future.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

3SIXTY5 #72 or there abouts: New Green Mixer!!

With apologies to all my blond friends! This was a fun piece to put together, obviously. I made it on Polyvore.com for Theme Thursday's "the color green" theme. I visited the TT site today and saw so many amusing and/or beautiful pieces inspired by green, I just had to participate! Thanks, Kelly, for another happy-making challenge!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010: At the Bottom

Perhaps at the bottom of a canal in Venice? Where I doubt there are so many fish. Although they are very cultured, cosmopolitan fish, to be sure. Made on Polyvore.

3SIXTY5 #70: The Grotto

My piece for tonight. An early night for me. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 14, 2010: Veneziana

I had the good fortune to spend about a week in Venice in July of 1999. We arrived after dark, thus my first experience of Venice was nocturnal, which intensified the sense of mystery and otherness the city so potently evokes. The walk from the vaporetto to the hotel was like a dream. Tall, ancient buildings loomed above very narrow, stone-paved streets, creating a sensation of meandering through the corridors of a torch-lit castle. Of course the street lamps weren't torches, but if they been, it would not have seemed anachronistic. Unlike Rome, it appears now that La Serenissima is not eternal. What a pity if she should sink beneath the sea!
This piece is digital art created on Polyvore.

Below are a couple of photos from my Venice trip.
Water taxis
A gondola glides smoothly under one of a zillion  lovely old bridges
Me standing on the terrace of Ca' Leoni, Peggy Guggenheim's former home and now one of the world's foremost museums of classic modern art. Peggy, and a whole herd of her lap dogs, are buried in the garden there. She has been one of my favorite "personages" for a long time, and it was a real thrill to visit her home. Especially since she's still there!

3SIXTY5 for June 13, 2010: A Different Sky

This piece is an attempt at recalling a dream from years ago, of a city under a huge dome. The streets were canals, and the coffered sky was reflected in the water as well as the baroque buildings. Bibiena on cannabis! This work in no way does justice to that vision. But I'm on a mission, so here it is.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 12, 2010: Take Flight

Spent way too much time out in the garden today, instead of concentrating on my artwork. But, here's another one! So all in all, a good day.

Collage-a-Day for June 11, 2010. Falling Angels--a common occurance?

This evening I joined friends to attend a church fair at Immaculate Conception Church, in Bloomfield, the Italian neighborhood of Pittsburgh. We started off with a meal of church-lady prepared gnocchi (or packaged ziti), complete with canned fruit cocktail in cherry jello for dessert. Jeez, it took me right back to St. Colman's School cafeteria in the 1950's! Next we perused the flea market, where I found, among other treasures, a tiny, well-preserved volume of Sheridan's The Rivals, published by J.M. Dent in 1897. OMG! Oscar Wilde and Aubery Beardsley were still alive when this was published. (Dent published their works, if I remember correctly). A tiny label indicates it came from Brentano's, Union Square, NYC. You just never know what you'll fnd at a Catholic Church flea market.

I've always loved the cover image of Satan falling from heaven that appeared on the program from the Morgan Library's 2008 exhibit in honor of the 400th Anniversary Milton's Paradise Lost. I don't know the name of the artist who created it, but it is so beautiful, I repeated it multiple times in this work. (I guess nude angels always indicate trouble of some kind?)  I call this piece The Descension.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3SIXTY5 #63 (or there abouts) for yesterday

The faster I go, the behinder I get. This piece is an anticipation of summer, called Sweet Fruit. It is another concoction brewed from bits floating around my work area. Fruit is awesome stuff. The concept of plants whose flowers grow into these large, colorful, nourishing objects, just blows me away. I love to garden, but I have yet to attempt fruit trees.(I do, however, cultivate a pair of energetic blueberry bushes. Getting to be about time to erect the annual bird barrier, so there'll be some fruit for us, come July.)  I'm fascinated by the concept of espalier, the practice of pruning and training fruit trees to grow along lattice-like forms, especially against sun-warmed garden walls. This alters the shape of the tree out from a (roughly) spherical form to a flattened form growing in a single plane, thus maximizing the amount of sunlight that reaches each piece of fruit. I imagine this also displays it perfectly to every passing beetle and moth. But then it also probably makes it easier for the gardener to inspect and clean the growing fruit, without resorting to nasty poisons. At any rate, espalier is an art form, with the living tree as the medium. One of these years...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

3SIXTY5 for June 8, 2010: Le Chapeau fait l'Homme

Some fun and games for Theme Thursday's "Men in Hats" challenge. Thanks to Kelly at TT for another playful theme to inspire us. Challenges are always fun to work on-- you must cajole your muse into producing something based on an outside impetus, which is sometimes difficult. On the other hand, I've seen blogs that people have put up just to post all their challenge pieces. Ambitious!

All the black & white elements in this piece are from Dover Publications' Men: A Pictorial Archive From Nineteenth-Century Sources, compiled by Jim Harter. The colored bits are from K & Company's Cut 'N Paste Designer Paper Pad. The title lettering is my own, with apologies to my calligraphy teachers. I wanted the calligraphy to look deliberately irregular and zany. (Really, I did!)

3SIXTY5 for Monday, June 7, 2010: The Egg Thief

The  lady lives in a little house in Paris and enjoys watching the bird that has nested on her balcony. She does not see, although the bird does, that one of the precious eggs has left the nest prematurely. Did the wind that tosses her curls blow the egg out of the nest? Did the fellow in black knock it down? Or is he just an innocent opportunist in the right place at the right time? Things are usually not what they seem, in a collage.Will he catch it before it shatters on the paving stones?  Does any of this matter? Well, only to the egg.

The wind-blown lady is actually one of the angels from the annual holiday creche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

3SIXTY5 for Sunday, June 6, 2010

This piece is called Starry Night, Notre Dame. It is based on a vintage photo of the Paris cathedral's flying buttresses, but I have been unable to find the attribution. I'm thinking it's by Eugene Atget, but a google images search produced no results. If anyone knows who the photographer is, please leave the information in a comment. I thought the photo adapted wonderfully from a bright day to a starry night.

While working on this little piece, I was listening to a disc of remixes of Enigma's music. I enjoy Enigma a lot, but I was less than impressed with most of what I heard on this CD (which came from the library, not bought, fortunately!) It got me to thinking about my collage work, which uses visual remixing, as in this piece. Like a musical remix, sometimes they come off, sometimes they don't. The successful ones are, I hope, suitable tributes to the original artworks--but never in the same class! Someone asked me recently why I am doing collages when I am capable of doing beautiful original paintings. Well, it has to do with time, really. It takes me for-ev-er to produce a small realist painting. But the query put a finger on a sort of creative dilemma I've always had about collages. Even if you can't draw or paint, you can put together a collage. Without some design skills, it may not be a good collage, but you can still sample images of a skill level far above your own, thus giving your work borrowed glamour. I love doing collages, but sometimes I feel like it's "cheating."  But mostly I figure, why not? Artists have been making collages for as long as there've been materials to assemble. If an image from a Renaissance painting becomes the spark that ignites a new artwork, and the new work has "artistic value" (another sticky, subjective train of thought!), then that seems fine with me. I think the key is to truly make the borrowed material your own, not only via visual manipulation, but also by infusing it with your own spirit and mind. So there's my little manifesto about the art of collage. Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear what you think!

3SIXTY5 for Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yes, we are a bit behind again *sigh* but still truckin'. A little suspense is always piquant--will I get caught up? Will I expire of terminal sleep deprivation? Will I give up?? NEVER. I always see paintings of Saints with lions curled at their feet. Let's give the lion center stage for a change. Thanks for looking!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

3SIXTY5 for Friday, June 4, 2010: Storm Over Fields

An approaching storm is wonderful sight to behold. One of my favorite atmospheric phenomena is when a mass of dark clouds forms opposite the direction of the sun, resulting in a roiling, dark sky behind a sunlit landscape.* This reversal of the usual relative positions of light and dark always makes me catch my breath, no matter how often I see it.  Sometimes, fantastic visions can come out of such clouds:  castles, precipices, mountains, cataracts. They form and dissolve in an instant, disappearing even before your awe-dropped jaw resumes its normal position. This piece is an attempt at rendering such vision.

*I wish I could quote the passage, but in one of the G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, there is an awesome description of such a sight. I read it I think in high school. Alas, too much time & wine have flowed since, and although I can no longer remember the passage (or even the title of the story), I do remember the impression it made on me. When you are young, you invent the world around you, believing with each new observation that you are the first to discover it, that it is yours alone. It was therefore a delightful sensation to find your own thoughts and feelings reflected back at you in a story, painting, or piece of music. It meant you were not alone, that kindred spirits had gone before, stumbled upon the same breath-taking beauty, and recorded it to pass it on to all. I think this is one of the great gifts that the arts give us—the opportunity to discover anew timeless beauty, to feel that intimate relationship with another mind that has passed out of time, to grow and work in an attempt to offer such a gift of our own. One of the reasons we are all here, making art and sharing it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

3SIXTY5 #57-3 for June 3: Beautiful Flower

Growing god-knows-where, on some surreal plane, in a parallel universe. Which, nevertheless, has lovely butterflies, and Bugs. Demonstrating the universality of yin and yang, the sustaining and the destructive. If you garden, these are principles  that you encounter on a regular basis....for Theme Thursday "bright colors" challenge. ThankQ

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

3SIXTY5 #57: Lunar Clockworks

There's something very special about being in the water at night. Of course it's a bit creepy--the mysterious sounds, the intensified scents, the rustling in the brush along the shore. Being in the water always has the effect of magnifying space, of erasing terrestrial boundaries; on a summer night, floating on your back, looking up at the star-filled,  blue velvet sky all around you, it is especially magical. Add a slender sickle moon, and you can almost see the inner workings of the universe vaulted above you. Time and space become suspended, as you yourself are suspended, drifting, in the warm, buoyant water.

This piece was inspired by offering for Three Muses "Time" challenge. Thanks for looking.

3SIXTY5 for June 1, 2010: Floating Up the Stair of Dreams

Sleeper, golden heap of shade and surrender,
your formidable rest is laden with such boons...
Paul Valery, La Dormeuse, translated by C.F. MacIntyre

6/8/10: I was surprised to find these lines in a book entitled French Symbolist Poetry*, a week after posting this digital collage (made, as usual, on Polyvore), so I came back to add them. Had I read them earlier, I would've incorporated them in the piece. On the other hand, how delightfully serendipitous to discover them after the fact!
*MacIntyre, CF. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two Collages for Two Days--So Ends May!

We had thunderstorms for most of Memorial Day here, so my flag-flying was short lived. At least the inclement weather made it easier to stay inside, chained to my drawing board. I completed a calligraphy commission, as well as my collage-a-day. 3SIXTY5 for Tuesday, May 31, 2010 is called Sweet Indecision. May her taste in men be better than her taste in clothes! She deserves a crown anyway. (What woman doesn't?)

(Image sources:  young woman from Dover Publications, Victorian Women's Fashion Photos CD-ROM and Book; men from Ten Two Studios' Father's Day faux postage; girl's frame from The Graphics Fairy; flowers cut from Dover gift wrap; backgrounds from an old wallpaper sample book)

I was too tired last night to post my collage for Monday, May 30. Here it is:

The hairdos and headdresses of the Renaissance never fail to amuse and/or puzzle. The young woman in Bartolommeo da Veneto's painting, purported to be Lucrezia Borgia herself, sports a coiffure of spun gold. (Was that her real hair color? Or even her real hair??)  In my version of Lucrezia's portrait, her tiny nosegay has been replaced by a species of barnacle, because I think its form is reminiscent of the girl's extravagantly curly strands. The only reason I know that is a barnacle, is because it said so in the book I got it from. It looks like something that fell off The Alien, which, BTW, is one of the best sci-fi movies ever. So, that's what I call this piece:  The Alien.

(Da Veneto painting from Dover Publications, 120 Italian Renaissance Paintings CD-ROM and Book; barnacle from  Dover, Haeckel's Art Forms from Nature CD-ROM and Book; frame from Green Paper; my calligraphy.)


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