Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memory Whispers

In spite of promises to self to work smarter, faster, design simpler pieces, etc., I keep starting pieces that develop into very detailed narrative collages which, after a couple of hours of searching, printing, trimming--I realize I will not able to finish in time for that night's blog post (given that I have to get up the next morning and go to work: Oh, what I could accomplish if I did not need to support myself!! They can inscribe that on my ashes urn...)  So, tonight, in lieu of the more elaborate pieces that, again, I realized I could not finish before 3 AM, I decided to just grab some already cut out bits from my work boxes and assemble a quickie image. HA! "There's no such thing as magic!" as Uncle Vernon told Harry, and there's no such thing as putting together a quick, simple collage--at least for me. My quickie took another couple of hours and while I suppose it's more or less acceptable, I can't understand why I can't seem to work faster.

Meanwhile, I hope to open my Zazzle shop this weekend, to sell Halloween cards and postcards, given that I have yet (since July) to sell a single thing on Etsy. Maybe that just means I need to find an art gallery to sell my work? I love crocheted cupcakes, and I admire the numerous successful Etsians, but it doesn't seem to be working  for me. Maybe I am too much of an acquired taste....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forest Apparition

I imagine they're wondering if they can somehow build a nest out of it. Birds nesting in your heart? Sounds lovely! A macabre valentine, as it were. Hmmm...I forgot the eggs...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Home Cooking

Mmmm...gotta love that home cookin'! I once overheard my mother, who never liked to cook, tell a visitor that she was very grateful to be living with a daughter (me, her only child) who enjoyed cooking. So true. If you do not cook, how ever do you feed yourself well? You can partake of restaurants (of varying degrees of excellence, depending on your pocketbook) or visit family/friends with, perhaps, irritating frequency until all standing invitations are withdrawn. Otherwise, you might exist in an ever-narrowing field of mediocre, to bad, to inedible, to positively poisonous food. Or, you could learn to cook. But maybe not the cuisine of the lady in tonight's collage.

Apropos this image, I should defend myself by mentioning that I am currently reading a bio of Charles Addams, "Charles Addams:  A Cartoonist's Life" by Linda H. Davis. Well, I wouldn't put CA in the same class as Edward Gorey--he was much too attached to mainstream living, and a bit of a poseur--but, his work  was known to a much broader audience, and perhaps initiated more folks into the mind-set of the macabre, who would not have otherwise stepped into that realm. Charles Addams was, in spite of his openly celebrity-cultivating habits, as much of an original as EG. Should he have followed EG's example and chosen the more reclusive route in life, he might have suffered less. But he also might have had less fun. To live is to grieve, as well as enjoy. (Curiously, it appears that Addams and Gorey never met; unusual, considering that they operated in the same time frame and place, and had stylistic correspondences.)

Tonight we had an unexpected visit from a friend, and his teen-aged daughter, arrived to pick up a computer that my son had repaired. Due to some miss-communication, said son was late on the scene, and my Mother and I got to visit with said friend (actually a divorced relative-by-marriage--but forever biological uncle to my children) and his daughter. She is a remarkably personable young woman, with excellent manners and none of the morose, sullen attitude that condemns so many contemporary teens to dismissal by those who might otherwise have something to offer them. During the course of the evening, I brought up the Chas Addams bio  to Dad, which discussion led to an opportunity to introduce the young lady to the original CA work, via one of the printed collections of cartoons. When the link with the two Addams Family movies was established, she understood who her Dad and I were referring to, and perused the volume of drawings with attention. Who can describe the delight and triumph of actually engaging the interest of a contemporary teenager in something rooted in the past, which has long been a source of one's own  pleasure? 

So tonight I return to what I am again confirmed in believing is my true metier--the realm of the macabre, where the mortality of the flesh is not only met, but greeted with twisted glee,  a la Addams and Gorey.  Bon appetite!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Three Muses Challenge: A Letter for Marie

This week's challenge at Three Muses is to make a decorated envelope. I have done many of these for mail swaps, but this one is a totally digital confection, created on Polyvore. Which I suppose stands as much of a chance of reaching the recipient as a real piece of mail would. Perhaps more?

I am taking a small hiatus from my macabre art. Not that I don't have plenty more of ideas to work up! Especially with Halloween right around the corner. I had quite an adventure at work this week, which I will tell all about soon--and it will definitely put me back in a mood for dark art.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn Arrives

The Autumnal Equinox this year is special. Well, autumn is always special, but celestially speaking, the 2010 autumnal equinox is different. Here's the scoop:

This is a digital collage created on Polyvore, my old standby when I get too far behind with my collage-a-day project.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I love playing with translucent paper. This was a fairly quick effort that worked pretty well on the whole. The title refers to that ability of remorse, guilt, and related emotions, to kill something in the heart. A bit of living death inside you, as it were. Or a bit of death living inside you. Nothing that another does to you, hurts you as much as what you do, that hurts someone you love.


I'm still compelled to back-date pieces to reflect the date on which it should've been done. Rather silly, I guess, since if I was consistent about it, I'd have to date this considerably earlier. I keep promising myself that I'll get caught up on the weekends, but it never seems to happen. So maybe I'll just say, whatever isn't caught up with by the end of September, falls into a black hole. I'll start October on the 1st of October! In fact, I may play hooky from 3SIXTY5 a bit (I'll post other art I've done), because I want to put some Halloween-y stuff on Zazzle to market as cards and postcards. I've got this wonderful, huge pile of new art now, but no time to try to market it. Which is better than having nothing to try to market!

Autumn Dirge

I was too tired last night to finish the piece I'd started (which should give me a leg-up on tonight), so here is something I whipped up on Polyvore during lunch at work today.

Monday, September 20, 2010


There is a whole set of these 18th c French prints of coiffures and adornments in my "Art Scans & Downloads" folder, but I neglected to make note of where they came from. Shame on me. Yet, isn't that a nice thing about altered art? We find vintage images, manipulate them, transform them, make them our own. Who can gainsay us? Well, perhaps many. I always draw the line at using something that clearly is someone else's art--unless they're 200 years dead--much as I wish I could lend its magic to my work.  Itkupilli and Lisa Vollrath (to name a couple of my faves)  release a whole lot of scrumptious stuff for appropriation/alteration, as do many other online altered art divas, for which we are all grateful (perhaps someday I'll give that a try myself?)  So forgive me if I often neglect to give credit for the images I use, for, in truth, I am a collector of images, printed as well as digital, from many years back, and obviously I cannot keep track of it all!
"Vanitas", pictures that remind of inescapable death and also manage to scold some segment of the population for  indulging in woefully superficial and temporal pursuits--trendy fashion, hairdos, musicians, etc., are a time-honored, but often neglected, genre in art. Maybe started by peevish people who didn't jump on the bandwagon in time? Anyway, these particular French pictures did not start out as Vanitas, but let's face it--any woman who would let someone turn her hair into a posh resort for at least half a dozen gnomes, complete with awnings and flowers, deserves to go down in flaming derision. What were they thinking?? Of course, it's also possible that the original pictures are satires, spoofing the trend for over-the-top hairdos but not, let us hope, depicting actual 'dos.

So I decided to nestle some awfully sweet little skulls in their wiggy nests and create some absurdist art of my own. Why ever not? My mother has often said a quote, which is both pointed and poignant:

"What you are, I once was. What I am, you will become." 

A memento mori if ever there was one. Good night, may we all wake up tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Death on the Wing

I saw no bats in my garden this year, unfortunately. But then, I've been too busy with 3SIXTY5 every evening to sit outside at dusk, as I usually would. Hopefully they're out there, chomping up the mosquitoes and other flying insects. No death's head moths, however, which live in Europe and Asia. According to Wikipedia, the death's head moth has the ability to "emit a loud squeak" by expelling air through it's pharynx if it is molested.

I am an annoyed by being unable, as usual, to leave comments on others' blogs from my home computer! I will do so tomorrow at work. In the meantime, thanks to several people who left comments for me.



Friday, September 17, 2010


My day job is as administrative assistant to several doctors affiliated with Pittsburgh's largest medical center and network of teaching hospitals (which shall herein remain nameless; I don't suppose associating them with this blog would do anything to increase my chances of a raise!) My docs are all academics, as well as superlative surgeons and practitioners, meaning they train baby-docs to become the surgeons, medical scientists and teachers of tomorrow. Medical training is basically a very lengthy, intense, elaborate, and rigorous apprenticeship, and many of these people, both masters and apprentices, are some of the most incredibly motivated, intensely high-energy, and awesomely super-intelligent beings on the planet. They are also, IMHO, all somewhat nuts, so it is quite an interesting milieu in which to work. 

One of the more interesting tasks I've handled over the years has been ordering cadaveric body parts for them to practice surgery on. Great way to spend Halloween! ("Ummm, give me dozen of those...and do you have any fresh brains....?") Yes, there are companies that specialize in supplying certified disease-free dead bodies and pieces thereof for educational purposes to the medical teaching establishment. So you might look askance at the next FedEx truck you see, you don't know what might bounce into the street during an encounter with one of Pittsburgh's infamous potholes...

"Cadaveric" is a term meaning coming from a dead body, referring to the above-mentioned goods. Now I ask you:  how many corpses are on the earth at this moment? Think of all the graveyards, all the shipwrecks, all the disasters, all the catacombs, all the research and training hospitals around the globe. I do believe the dead must out-number the living. Even allowing for decomposition--a natural process heavily compromised by the modern use of chemical preservatives.

Biology and mortality. You can't have one without the other. The more animate a being is, the faster it flares and deteriorates, releasing its components into the universal recycling pool of life-engendering matter. Science endeavors to continuously extend mortality, nowadays by combining biology with technology. But Mother Nature always wins out. One of the most brilliant and distinguished surgeons with whom I've had the privilege to work, once said, in a lecture to the incoming Residents:  "Remember, in medicine, we don't know far more than we know." Obama, Congress, Sarah Palin (aaaaggghh!!!!), are you listening?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wonderful medieval towns

For my Three Muses friends who especially appreciated the medieval image of Bamberg in my "Printed Word" collage, here is the source:   Medieval Woodcut Illustrations: City Views and Decorations from “The Nuremberg Chronicle” selected and arranged by Carol B. Grafton. (Dover Publications, Mineola, NY, 1999)

This book is out of print, but it might appear in a search on American Book Exchange,, my favorite site for used books (limit your search to your home country, or you'll get results from used bookstores all over the globe.) I can't even remember how many great used books I've searched for and found on this site!

Thanks to all of you for visiting, and for your supportive comments!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Medieval Bamberg

Bamberg is another of those lovely little cities in Bavaria, Germany, with a charming, medieval Aldt Stadt (old city) section still intact. I missed out living there for awhile in the 1990's, when the Army stationed my then-husband to another town. So here is a little tribute to Bamberg. It is also my offering for Three Muses' "printed word" challenge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Haunted House: My Sister's Ghost

I've discovered there are sites out there devoted to posting "dark" themed art. So I decided to join a challenge on Art on the Dark Side, where the current theme is Haunted Houses. Cool!! When I was a kid, there were a couple of "haunted" houses within walking distance of the home where I grew up in Turtle Creek, PA. Mind you, I lived on a street that was a dirt road until I was about 10 years old. So spooky old houses, inhabited and otherwise, were not an uncommon sight. Boy, was Halloween fun in my neighborhood! I had an imagination even then, and when the moon was being driven by whippy clouds coursing across the dark sky, and the wind rattled the dry leaves still on the skeletal trees, I was out on my little broom. Any bit of weedy field became the blasted moors, any bare tree was inhabited by (possibly evil) pagan spirits, and beings of the night were out and about and up to god knew what tricks! I was ready for them.

One of the "haunted" houses, I later learned, was used by a homeless man called Gandy. I never saw him, but I would occasionally invade the premises, heart beating wildly and eyes darting ceaselessly, to give myself a thrill. What I found, was candle stubs. I don't know where the old man got all those candles, but I took a few to burn in one of my own haunts in the surrounding woods. I was forever finding "treasures" like these, bits of cast off stuff, shiny metal, an old empty wallet, a small brass flower pot. I was an avid pack-rat even then, and built myself little nests in the woods to hide my treasures that I wasn't allowed to cart into the house.

I don't actually have a sister (I'm an only child). That being the case, it's easy to pretend I had one who died. So here she is, flamboyantly haunting a house I (probably) never lived in.

Italian Singer

Well, this night certainly got away from me. Long story. Buona notte!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Apple

Although I think the Adam & Eve and the apple story is a male chauvinist plot, nevertheless, here is a little piece (4 x 6 inches) that allows me to do yet more art with a skull in it. Is this healthy??

Greetings to Junibear!

This post started as an email to my friend June of Junibear's Jottings, For some reason, I find I cannot leave comments on people's blogs from my home computer. I think it might have something to do with the draconian security settings my ever-vigilant son-in-law put on. So, I end up emailing people directly instead of posting a comment on their blog. But I like to leave comments that other visitors can read too, so my way around the problem, this time, is to post the email I intended to send to June. Here it is:

Hi June,
Thanks as always for your encouraging comments on Collagitation! This is the sixth month of collage-a-day, which I should rename "collage-almost-every-day" I'm so far behind--probably around 10 days by now : (  It really matters only to me, but I hate to set a goal and not follow through!!!

As usual, I am unable to leave a comment on others' sites, I still don't know why. Curiously, when you or someone leaves a comment RE an entry on Theme Thursday or Three Muses challenges, I am able to follow the link and leave a comment. But not if I go directly from my computer, which tells me something (although not anything helpful to me.)

June, your post about being wheel chair bound is very moving, not maudlin at all. I do so admire your courage and cheerfulness in the face of such a life-changing event. I hope you are not in pain. My Mom is still ambulatory, but she often has severe pain from gout and arthritis. She has a whole slew of health problems. As my daughter says, we are lucky to still have her with us.

I had to smile at your comment about where I get my ideas for my art, because that particular piece, which I call Nocturnalia, came about mostly by chance. I keep cuttings in shallow boxes where they live until I need them for a piece.  Yesterday when I started to work, I picked up a box and noticed the way a bunch of elements had arbitrarily arranged themselves in the shallow box. (That's why the pillared arch is upside down!) Here's the digital photo I took after I started playing with the image,while everything was still in the box, so I'd remember the arrangement when I really got to work on it. It changed quite a bit but still recognizably the same piece.

Sometimes inspiration is just a matter or having enough stuff laying around the worktable! This is not the first piece that came about that way. Which is one of the reasons I love manual as opposed to digital collage. The main reason being, of course, because I don't know enough about digital art to make the images I want to. But I'm working on it!

My mother and I are both feeling much better today, thank you for your kind wishes, and I hope you are feeling good too, Junibear, because you are a treasure of a friend and we are all so lucky to know you!

Hugs from Diane

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I missed a friend's birthday party today, due to feeling extremely crappy. Napped during the afternoon but didn't help. I think it's from the past stressful week. And I misspelled "stilettos." Sloppy! This too shall pass.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

hook, me, and ...

Tonight that toothy skull is looking over my shoulder, saying:  HA!!!  No new art from you tonight!

So, in lieu of new art, I offer a never-before-published cell phone photo taken in 10/08, when the Starn Twins' installation, Gravity of Light, came to Pittsburgh. The shadow with the head is me, taking a shadow-portrait in the intense light of the huge carbon arc lamp they made for the show. Good night, may we all wake up tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Killer Stillettos

We all get bit by the silly bug from time to time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No Grey Area--Either you are, or you aren't!

Today, instead of returning to my job after a busy 4-day holiday, I ended up taking my mother to urgent care, who sent her to the emergency room. Fortunately, it was not a life-threatening situation, but one that was causing her considerable pain, most likely due to a huge arthritic flare up in her fingers. After 6 hours consisting of a few tests and a lot of waiting, we were no further ahead. They didn't know what it is, nor what she can do about it.   *sigh*

Meanwhile, this morning before getting out of bed, I listened to a story on NPR about the link between lack of sleep and obesity. Which would explain why my waistline has completely disappeared behind an exploding wall of fat over the past 5 months. I thought it was just old age creeping up on me. But, I hope I can mostly reverse this with adequate sleep and more exercise. The threat to my 3SIXTY5 project is problematic; I will try to repair my compromised health and continue with my collage-almost-every-day exercise. Can I simplify my work enough to manage it? Well, my self-imposed art challenge has become something of a life and death matter. And my goth-themed art continues...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eglise des Leidenschaftlich bewegt

Spent most of my long weekend working on a rush calligraphy job (I need the money) but also made time Saturday night to go out for a drink with an artist friend I hadn't seen in awhile, as well as attend the obligatory end of summer picnic Sunday afternoon at my best friend's place. I paid the piper by missing yet another day of 3SIXTY5. Regardless, tonight to celebrate completing the calligraphy job, I treated myself to re-viewing (as opposed to re-reading) Max Ernst's masterpiece, Une Semaine de Bonte. In a similar vein, I made a little composition of my own, using an entire image as a starting point then altering it with absurd additions. Not sure if I like it...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Moon Unmasked

I am so glad to finally have something to post tonight--!!! I almost decided, more than once, to bag it and just go to bed. I kept at it and after discarding idea upon idea, I ended up with something more or less reasonable. By tomorrow, I may even really like it. Right now, I'm sick of it. Which often happens. I've decided  the Lost Lenore piece, which seemed a failure when I first finished it, is not so bad.

Since my "melt down" in early August, when I fell 5 pieces behind my collage-a-day goal, I haven't been noting the date of the piece in my post titles, because at this point, the time-line is hopelessly broken. Date-wise, this work is actually for yesterday, 9/1, because even now I'm still a day behind.

But hey! I'm still making more art than I have EVER; I have a small gathering of friends, on and off-line, who follow my progress regularly; and even if I'm behind, I'm accomplishing something important to me, which will take my art to another level. So I'm glad, and grateful for this experience!

I fixed yesterday's artwork so it will enlarge if you click on it.  I have no idea why it wouldn't enlarge in the first place, because all I did to fix it was delete it and upload it again. Go figure.

A big THANKS to my Three Muses friends for their comments on my Nature Girl piece!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nature Girl

Tonight's collage was inspired by Three Muses "Back to Nature" challenge. The labels tell it all. The skull is there because death is also nature at work. Sleep tight!


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