Sunday, October 31, 2010


Tonight's piece is pretty different from anything I've done previously, mainly because it was "art directed" by the one and only Suzanne Moore, calligrapher and book-artist extraordinaire, who came to town this weekend at the invitation of the Calligraphy Guild of Pittsburgh to give her 2-day workshop entitled "Kol-ahz" at Carnegie-Mellon University. If you are interested in some details about the workshop, read on. If you are not, bail now to avoid boredom!

It was an unsettling endeavor for me, being very wedded to a particularly pictorial, narrative style of collage making. I am a concretist, Suzanne is an abstractionist. So it was sort of Max Ernst colliding with Schwitters and Braque!  I was way at sea--not a bad way from which to begin an educational experience. As I grasp it, Suzanne's style starts with letterforms as abstract shapes, which then become the  focal point of a composition. There are no illustrative, pictorial elements added to these abstract letters, but like any good abstract art, they are executed with such a richness and depth of color, texture and form that they evoke a thoroughly satisfying visual experience. Today during lunch, we saw slides from her book of A's--a multi-year project in which she explored hundreds of renderings of--the letter "A." You would have to see it to believe it! A Sistine Chapel of A, a Pieta of A, a Guernica of A!!!

To start with, we created materials to use for the pending assignments. The first of these involved making broadly gestural, black and white interpretations of letterforms in sumi ink, preferably created using anything but traditional calligraphy pens. Everything from dentifrice aids to chunks of roots dug out of her yard, were employed as mark-making tools. These sheets were then cut up into precisely measured 2 or 3 inch squares (what else could one expect of a book-artist, for whom precise measurement and 90 degree angles are a way of life?)  At one point I thought, "I'm cutting out squares; how boring is that?" until I realized that those squares were just a starting point, within them many things were possible. Our squares containing ink marks of no known meaning became the seminal elements from which we assembled our abstract compositions. While I  found these restrictions and this method of working very challenging, I learned a lot in this workshop. It is always worth the time and effort to encounter and work with a world-class talent close up, one on one.

Nevertheless, the above composition was my only creation from 2 days of effort with which I am even remotely satisfied, and then only because I finally departed from the abstract and inserted a pictorial element (the dragon's head). Moreover, tonight, I decided to add another:  the skeletal arm was added afterward, because I suddenly realized that tonight is HALLOWEEN! I've been doing skulls, bones and innards for weeks, so I could not let the target holiday pass without at least a gesture to the macabre!! The exercise in which I produced this piece involved making a template via a very loosely executed--more "drawn" than written--word of our choice. This was sketched in pencil, then the enclosed spaces captured inside the lines were filled with texture, color, other lettering, clips from many sources, including xeroxes or originals of previous work, magazine images, printed text, photographs --in other words, whatever we chose. My word was "Ominous." If you look very carefully, you can discern the letters, especially the initial O, the N, the peaks of the M, etc. But again, restrictions were in effect, all the choices of "fillers" stated above nevertheless being based upon the types of elements we had been instructed to choose prior to the workshop and bring with us. Suzanne is a great believer in "boundaries" as a way to control the endless choices available to an artist, thus freeing up the mind for creativity instead of mundane in decision-making.

She also offered several other techniques, based on her own preferences and experience as a book artist, for embellishing and enriching compositions. One of these which I did not play with, was sewing, the use of stitchery both as a decorative linear element and a functional one to adhere parts of a composition. the use of needle and tread is, of course, integral to bookbinding and a natural addition to the vocabulary of embellishments for someone involved in that craft. But I found no affinity with it at this point, although many others in the workshop produced effective results utilizing various threads and stitchery patterns.

Many other techniques were demonstrated, and lots of other technical information imparted, well beyond what I was able to absorb. Those which I chose to experiment with, and which have stayed with me most readily, are the ones that most align with what I already love the most to do. But even these are novel, taking a step beyond. Thus do we build incrementally on what we already know, and so approach what will enable us to evolve and grow as artists.

No knowledge gained is ever wasted; no experience is ever without its unexpected repercussions. Over time, I am sure the lessons I learned (both consciously and subliminally) this weekend will affect my work. At this moment in time, the main effect registers as a reinforcement of my current favorite way of creating art: via selecting and assembling pre-existing images into some readable, visual narratives that nonetheless result in (I hope) unique works of art. Who knows what lies ahead?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon

My offering for Theme Thursday's "Blue" challenge, a day late. Should the princess kiss that frog? Well, in a cynical world, probably not. But, once in a blue moon...magic really does happen!

Created on Polyvore. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glorious New Hat

Hats, it seems, are not as popular as they once were. Millinery shops are a thing of the past. But sometimes, one can understand why. This piece was inspired by Three Muses theme this week, which is... hats.

The elegant skellie lady is from Itkupilli, other elements from Dover, background text is pages from a vintage German book.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Halloween is almost here, time to think about masks. I offer some originals, along with a simple but sinister one (far left) by by 18th c Venetian painter, Felice Boscarati. Do not be alarmed to find anatomy specimens on your doorstep next weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Warm in Thine Eye

Turmoil has been showing up in my life lately, especially in regard to the house my mother and I share. At 70 years old, it has decided to wage war on us. I will spare you the details. Suffice to say, to hell with the expense, tomorrow I call the plumber!!! (With gratitude to my son and his buddy, who did their best to fix the problems. Sorry, guys, this is beyond your capabilities.) Nevertheless, I am grateful to have 1) my son 2) my Mother 3) a roof over our heads 4) income to pay for repairs 5) the phone number of a good plumber.  I almost entitled this post, "It's better than being bombed," but decided this would've been really bad taste, really shabby. I feel humbly grateful that my problems are so essentially trivial, compared to the sorrows so many people face every day.  And why can't we fix this??

I rather like tonight's piece, but, I must say this scanned image does not do it justice. There are a lot of layered areas, with subtle transparencies happening, that are not captured here. Be that as it may, I am struggling to get back to my collage-a-day-or-so activities, and this is a good start.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Castles in the Air

Ah, that felt good! The first new collage since days and days!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Griffin and Baby

Oh, I've been soooo bad. No new art since last week :-(    As you might expect, from someone who has just started at age 60 to answer the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", I tend to live in the moment, let tomorrow take care of itself, and not worry too much about planning ahead. Thus, I am always somewhat unprepared, and perpetually in a time crunch. Most recently, I've been spending time trying to edit several of my Halloween collages to fit the templates so I can offer them for sale as Halloween cards. "Nothing is ever easy," especially when it is advertised as being so. Well, if not this Halloween, next year I'll already have a whole stable of card designs ready to go. (Now I need to start thinking about Christmas, so I don't have to repeat that statement come December.)  For the time being, in lieu of new work, I offer a collage I made years ago of a Griffin, actually one section of a large piece based on medieval bestiaries. The calligraphy is mine.

Tonight, after an unusually hectic weekend, I'll be back at my work table, yippee!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Galerie Chiz Made My Day

Today I had a wonderful interview with Ellen Neuberg, Proprietresse Extraordinaire of Gallerie Chiz in the artful Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I have been attending openings (and partaking of Ellen's hospitality) at Gallerie Chiz for many years, but today's visit was special. I loaded up a binder with collages from 3SIXTY5, and offered them for possible inclusion in the gallery. It was tremendously gratifying when they met with a positive response!  So it looks like this may be my re-entry into the vibrant art scene in my hometown. It is wonderful to have this blog, and make so many friends through sharing my work and observations online, but it is still very special to participate and be part of something at "street level," in real time, face-to-face with people. I am soooo excited!!!  (Please overlook that I am posting no new art tonight--yet again I began a piece which I find I cannot finish in one night. So I hope this narrative will excuse the omission.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Tonight's art has no bearing (that I know of) on what has been uppermost in my thoughts today. Like opera lovers the world over, I am saddened by the announcement of Joan Sutherland's death. Dame Joan has been such a fixture, a sort of benign, presiding Goddess over the realm of opera, that it just didn't occur to me she would ever die. Surely, she was much too young? She was 83, an age she achieved secretly, behind all our backs, while we listened over and over to the flights of bel canto magic on her numerous recordings made over the decades of her spectacular prime. Well, all good things must end, and here again is one of those occasions when the world turns, and another Immortal goes to her just rewards, never to return. Brava, Joan, and farewell.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Adventures in Banner-land

My art post for tonight is MY NEW BLOG BANNER!!! I actually made it for the opening of my store on Zazzle, to market Halloween cards, and cards & postcards of other designs as well.  I've been in a real time-crunch lately, which threatens to extend right through the holidays. Usually Halloween is the only event in October, but this year, I have an activity on at least one day of every weekend throughout the month. Well, what can I say, I've decided to just get loose with 3SIXTY5, my collage-a-(almost every)-day project. I should have thought of doing something like this when I was still young enough to bear up under the commitment! But I was too busy being a sybarite.

Today my mother and I went to see "Vatican Treasures" at the Heinz History Museum in Pittsburgh's Strip District--a warehouse & market district so named because it occupies a 4 block wide strip of land between the Allegheny River and the bluffs that rise to neighborhoods atop them.--NOT because of entertainment you will find there, LOL! Anyway, my Mom loved the whole adventure, but I found the exhibit somewhat meagre on "treasures." I also couldn't help but register the evidence of immense wealth and luxury enjoyed, historically and into the present day, by the Popes in Rome and their huge retinues. Be that as it may, the exhibit displayed many genuine works of art, albeit the majority of them by "unknown artists " rather than those by recognized masters (do I detect insurance considerations at work here?)  Which is not to disparage the quality of those unknown works, they were still breath-taking! But the "blockbuster" pieces, such as the Pieta, were reproductions. I had a similar experience many years ago, when I went to see an exhibit in Speyer, Germany, of the "science and drawings" of Leonardo da Vinci. There were many impressive constructions of machinery and engines from his designs--but all the Leonardo art was bogus. I took off my glasses, the better to take in Leonardo's brushstrokes, and found myself looking at benday dots!

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog from Three Muses and Theme Thursday! It's always fun to "spend time" with friends this way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Phone Home

A digital piece created on Polyvore. I thought it would be a quickie, but then I had to tweak the heck out of the phone in Photoshop. Number one priority after the completion of my collage-(almost-every)-day project, will be to spend just about as much time every week on really learning PS.  Though I have to say, I've learned to do a lot more through using it with my 3SIXTY5 images, than I probably would've had I not started this collage project. "It's All Good!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Composition in Black and Redd: OH, RHETT!

Well, two of my favorite colors, Black and Red, have been called upon for Theme Thursday's challenge for this week. Subject matter a secondary consideration.

Here is my offering:   RHETT!!!   OMG--was there EVER a man so sexy--so pliable to one's fantasies--so, So, SO---(fill in the blank). Which of us would not meld ourselves to the contours of his embrace, offer our lips to the clasp of his kiss--AHEM--ok, and here we stop.

My apologies to any gentle, virgin souls who I may have offended (Get a Life--!!)

Thanks ladies for an excellent challenge! Nighty-night!

The Immortal Piaf

Three Muses challenge this week is "Say it with Music." Where to start?  Who doesn't love music? I'm told there are benighted souls who seldom listen to music; how do they survive??

Well, after some thought I decided to make a tribute to Edith Piaf, the "Little Sparrow." A woman of consuming talent, consumed in turn by her passion for the lives and loves described in her art. Song lyrics of love and loss, recreated as the narrative of her life.  Reality impinged on her world in the form of brutal disabilities, alcoholism, drug addiction, grief and pain on a monumental scale. Yet, a true artist, she kept singing--and loving.

She was a phenomena, an incarnate Act of the Goddess. There will never be another like her.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Victorian Parlor: A Tribute to Edward Gorey

Tonight's piece isn't really a "collage-a-day" effort, because I worked on it over several evenings during the past week (including hours of damage control when I pasted down the old lady in the wrong position.) But I knew how I wanted it to look, and I searched for the images relentlessly until I found what I wanted. I conceived it as another tribute to the great Edward Gorey, so it had to be the visual equivalent of le mot just. I can't say I entirely brought it off. I've discovered the fun in tweaking scanned collages in Photoshop, to offer as art prints or cards, so I'll take this one along that route too.  I've not included a caption with the picture, as EG usually would do in his work, though I may add it later. Here is the narrative:  "As Violet sat in her Aunt Letitia's parlor, patiently waiting for some sign of interest from her shy suitor, she suddenly noticed that a most handsome ecorché had appeared in the room..."

Almost all the images came from various Dover books, including Aunt Letitia, who I took from Gustav Dore's virtuoso illustrations for Orlando Furioso. The creepy little child came from Itkupilli.  

Ecorché is a word I first encountered in a Gorey piece. It's a pretty way to say "a cadaver flayed to show the musculature." Of course, the one in my collage is not a cadaver, but most likely alive, and Violet appears to be interested. What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Dark Heart

Please click on this post to view it at a larger size; in which view, the  image will POP, and the work will be seen much more in its entirety. Thank you!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Constellation Equus: digital collage for Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010

This digital collage is a catch-up from yesterday. After a day of house cleaning, I was too tired last evening to complete and post a collage.  In honor the power of equine beauty to carry us away from anxiety and trepidation, I offer a tribute to the horse, in the form of a new constellation,  "Equus magnificus." OK, I'm making this up, but the admiration is sincere. There are two genuine equine constellations that I know of, Pegasus, and his offspring, Equuleus ("the little horse") which come into view in the Fall. I have a marvelous telescope, but, alas, I probably won't be able to make the time to use it this year.

An artist friend of mine owns a fine horse that competed in the just-concluded World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY this past weekend. I will be visiting her farm later this month, and will meet this equine celebrity. And I'll definitely have my camera with me.

Thank Goodness for Friends!

I want to say a big "Thank You!!" to Nigea, of Paris, France, for her (unsolicited) aid with my Etsy shop. She commented that my Etsy badge did not point to my shop, but only to the Etsy homepage. Then, she sent me directions to find the Etsy Mini widget, with the result (see, top of right column) that I now have a direct link between Collagitation blog and my Etsy store!  You can visit two of Nigea's blogs, nigeArt and Marie's Freebies, as well as her Etsy shop, from my links section. Thank you, my friend, for your coming to my aid! With big hugs from Diane.

(I'll be posting new art tonight!)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh, Fortuna

The sculpted head of Fortune dates from the end of the first century. I love her crown:  a city wall and gate.  This could be the basis for an interesting Halloween costume. "Oh Fortuna" is the title of the first segment of Carl Orff's masterpiece, Carmina Burana. I saw this awesome piece performed a few years ago, danced by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, with the Mendelssohn Choir and invited soloists, and the ballet orchestra, in a memorable performance that I will always recall with a thrill.


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