Monday, May 17, 2010

The Impossible Dream

I'm calling this one The Impossible Dream. It started with some squares of watercolor paper that were once an acrylic dot painting. I started arranging them on some different colored swatches of Mi Teintes to create units.

I decided to draw out my idea to see what happened when the unit was repeated. I didn't have much luck with this irregular shape:

Most of the patterns created with it had disruptive diagonal chevrons but I like the arrangement of sub-unit squares.

Look, It's the Atomist !

I couldn't help but notice the post titled "Seeing Vision: Examples of Light and Sight Personified" on the blog Ptak Science Books . Their second illustration is the source for my Atomist! I first used her as a found illustration in Simulacra, below.

Then she became the subject of her own collage titled The Atomist Confronts the Infinate Void. I did two studies to fool around with acrylic paint before completing the final piece below:

Below is a reference photo showing a very early version. I was just beginning to assemble elements. Somewhere along the way the birds and the iris were eliminated. Maybe I'll do another version someday and include them.

I actually like this second study that I did the best. Her dress is an illustration from an old western novel:

And, how cool is this, I just noticed a whole series titled History of Dots on the Ptak Science Books blog. Absolutely amazing!

More on Zell's Encyclopedia

Zell's Popular Encyclopedia: A Universal Dictionary of English Language, Science, Literature, and Art - In Two Volumes - New and Revised Edition can be seen on the Internet Archive. It is printed in three columns (my single volume edition is printed in two) and the illustrations are different. Link to Volume II. here.

I see there is a five volume edition (with a price of $1,200.00) and also a 126 page index written by Theodore W. McClintock in 1879 titled: Analysis of Zell's Popular Encyclopedia; Consisting of an Outline of Universal History; the Arrangement in Chronological Order of Historical, Biographical Titles in Zell's; With Synopsis of the History of Each Nation and Tables of Persons.

Friday, May 14, 2010

From Aldwyth to Zell

I recently read about the collage artist Aldwyth and her exhibit organized the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, South Carolina. The artist is described as "a voracious collector, scrupulous cataloguer, encyclopedic archivist, sly social commentator and corrective art-historian" by artnet Magazine. She sounds like someone I would enjoy talking with!

My curiosity was aroused when I learned that the source for one of her collages was Zell's Encyclopedia. I was lucky to be able to find an inexpensive copy minus its title page. The cover says: Zell's Universal Encyclopedia - New Edition - Self Pronouncing - Unabridged. Data from the United States Census of 1890 is included following 982 pages of alphabetical entries with lovely engraved illustrations.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cubist Log Cabin

I found this little fabric collage test nestled inside a curio cabinet out in the gallery (where I've created an amazing mess in the process of getting ready for the bead season). It is one of my earliest pieces. I remember being so excited that I could use my cotton fabric in collage.

Here it is scanned, rotated, and repeated with a dark gray border. A real sewn version would be divine but I was able to do this digital version so much quicker!

Friday, May 7, 2010

What I'm Reading

I've always had a passion for pattern. I've had a copy of Richard M. Proctor's Principles of Pattern Design on my shelf for over 30 years. And every time I pick it up, I notice something inspiring that I never noticed before.

I just recently obtained a copy of Josef Albers' Interaction of Color. The revised edition with unabridged text and selected plates. Along with my color flash cards, I'm assembling rectangles of solid colored paper to execute the color exercises in the book. I'm up to the chapter on transparence and space-illusion. I'm taking my time with this one. I keep going back to the beginning.

Color Chip Dots

I'm still working on my color flash card project with one card for every color and type of paper that I use for collage. I recently ordered four different Canson Mi-Teintes assortments and now I'm trying to assign a color name to each sheet based on a picture in my Dick Blick catalog. Not as easy as one would think. The greens, blues and brights are fairly reliable but the tans are murder. I'm not sure I'll get what I want when I re-order single colors.

I started fooling around with a set of color chips that I made a couple of years ago. I like the way the rounded-off corners look against the gray. I'm having more fun than a kid with color-forms!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Work in Progress Since 1980

Here's the studio with two walls of stuff I'm thinking about. I picked up two 30x40" canvases at Artist & Craftsman Supply on Deering Ave. in Portland, Maine. Now I have a nice large surface for my batik drawings, two of them, anyway.

The girl with the long hair resting on her hand is my daughter, Marianne. Next is the source of the Blanche collages. The third drawing with the dark hair represents my mother, Irene. Based on a Coptic textile, it became a batik wall quilt which I no longer have.

It's nice to see these drawings up on the wall!

Color Flash Cards

Growing up I was required to "practice your flash cards" after homework was done. Gone was the incentive to dash it off so I could disappear into my latest book. I hated math and flash cards. Both forced my mind to work in ways contrary to my natural tendencies.

But now I am creating fun flash cards. Their initial purpose is to serve as color swatches for all of my decorative and color papers. They will allow a comparison between two different adhesive methods, PVC glue and Gloss Acrylic Medium.

I cut a pad of inexpensive 9x12" watercolor paper into quarters and traced two 2-inch dots onto each card. I started by applying PVC glue to one dot area on each card. Laying them out to dry I became aware of the nice repeat design they created. I'm thinking about ways to capitalize on the 3-D effect of the raised area resulting from application of the glue.