Why Collage?

In our most recent session of collage making with Michelle Wilson at UC Berkeley Extension, we learned to make a simple accordion book to use as a substrate for a collage.    I decided to combine collage and paint across the entire eight span of pages.  My goals were to explore using images as texture and as a way to add complexity to an overall image.

I started by gluing assorted black and white or other neutral papers  across the entire surface.  After the pages dried, I applied a couple layers of gesso with a brayer both to tone it all down, and to add texture. I added some torn pages from a magazine showing a woman wearing sunglasses. Stepping back at the resulting shapes, I decided to add layers of watercolor, acrylic and black Noodler’s Bulletproof ink to create a mountainous landscape.

Collage book 7 3/4" x 58"
Collage book 7 3/4″ x 58″

Most of these papers are from a stash collected over the past couple years, the recognizable is a tattered Dürer print that I saved after using it for inspiration in a drawing class. Strangely, I’ve noticed that papers and images used in my collages, all seem to take on deep personal meaning as the collages come together.  I say strangely, because the papers were selected randomly or chosen for value (meaning relative lightness or darkness) rather than content.  And yet, it does mean something and expresses a search  for meaning and solace in spiritual connection.  In the days following the senseless shooting down of a passenger flight, nothing makes sense.  How can people minding their own business and going about their lives, and suddenly be gone?  How can I glue paper together when my heart is full of grief?

Collage book – detail





Mail Art Project

Postcard-swimmerI’m taking a collage class at UC Berkeley Extension with papermaker, printmaker, book and installation artist Michelle Wilson. We’re about 6 weeks into the class and have explored various techniques and media for creating collages with found imagery.

Postcard-giftsOne of my favorite assignments in the class so far was to create a piece of mail art inspired by fluxus artists, such as Ray Johnson, who included mail art in their work during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Postcard-congratsFor my project I decided to continue with ideas from the previous week where we used chance to determine which images to use or where to place them in the collage.  I thought it would be fun to send one to anyone in the class that wanted one.
Postcard-NetflixI started by collecting interesting postcards that I found at various art locations, like the art store or the reception desk at art galleries.   The postcards were of various sizes, so I cut them all down to 4″x6″ to make them all the same size and to keep postage to 34 cents each.
I painted both sides 12 cards by applying gesso with a bryer to both sides of the postcards.  After letting them dry, I selected images that were either in my leftover pile from previous collages done in class or from junk mail received that week.  I cut them to size and randomly adhered one to each card.  After all 12 had one image, I added another and continued until I felt like they were done.  I did this on both sides of the cards and decided which side was the front and which was the back.
On each postcard front, I added some black fluid acrylic, applied with the brayer. On the postcard backs, I gessoed these to give myself a textured, white writing surface for the address, stamp, and written message.

Postcard-Chocolate-xoxo I’ll be mailing these out in the next day or two.  It’ll be interesting to see what condition they’re in after working their way through the mail.  Postcard-but-it's-also-politics Postcard-4349Postcard-@@@@@Postcard-pumpsPostcard-BackPostcard back

Reader Challenge

Back in August 2013, I saw this reader’s challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and decided to give it a whirl. The challenge was to use our favorite techniques to create a six inch mixed media square with some kind of stitching.

I used one of my linocut prints on fabric as the starting point, then I accented the print  with acrylic ink and oil pastel.  I didn’t spend too much effort on it, and basically just considered it a little experiment where I give equal weight to the positive and negative space in a composition.  I liked the result and decided to submit it to the magazine.  The first step was to submit a .jpg of the piece. Later, I heard back from them and sent it in to be photographed, still not knowing if it would actually be included in the magazine.  Today I was pleased to see that it was included in the January/February 2014 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!!!

Linocut, acrylic ink, and oil pastel. Machine stitched. 6″x 6″

Readers-challengeCloth Paper Scissors Jan/Feb 2014

Bones in a Circle


Bones I and Bones II – each ~ 10 1/2″ x 27 3/4″

Continuing with my circle series, I patched together fabric monoprinted with my circle motif, then added hand stitched running stitches around some of the circles and vertical lines of machine stitching. After looking at the composition I decided to print onto fabric some of the images I photographed from the skeleton at the Art and Design Center. I didn’t think there was enough contrast, so I added contrast with ink, appliquéd some lace behind some of the bones and added some hand stitching.

Bones I: Hand

Bones II – Hand – Detail


Bones I – Cervical Spine – Detail

Working in a Series … to be continued …

First Do No Harm

First Do No Harm – 40 1/2″ x 40 1/2″

I’ve continued on my series, but haven’t posted in a while, so here’s an update on my work in the Working in Series class at UC Berkeley Extension, Fall quarter.

Life Wheel

Life Wheel – 37 1/2″ x 44″

I continued making pieces from the previous quarter with the goal of making a statement about the fragility and preciousness of the natural world around us and our need to protect it.  As a retired RN who worked in labor and delivery and also an oncology unit, I have cared for people at both ends of the spectrum – alpha and omega – birth and death.   These are the times when it is clear that every moment of life is precious.  This, and the realization that all life on our planet is interrelated, is a source of inspiration for my work.

Three on the wall

I started with some preliminary sketches, but first and foremost, kept my process improvisational.  I used a variety of fabrics including silk dupioni, silk organza, lace, and cotton.  Then I added text and image using a variety of techniques, such as silkscreen, photo transfer, and linoprinting.  I combined these materials into a background layer juxtaposing straight lines and more organic shapes to suggest an interaction between the natural and manmade world. I allowed my work to evolve and morph as I refined my ideas.  I add one or more layers using collage, printing or painting techniques, then add line and texture with machine or hand stitching. More here.

Three more

Working in a Series

For the past several weeks I’ve been in Pamela Lanza’s UC Berkeley Extension class, Working in Series.  Here’s the course description:

The process of working in series is an effective vehicle to unlock creative potential, capitalize on unexpected discoveries and uncover new forms of self-expression. Illustrated lectures introduce you to contemporary artists who work in series and to the ideas behind this approach. Course assignments inspire innovative thinking and encourage you to delve into your own serial explorations.


Class exercise – Twig Drawings

We’re finalizing our projects and will be presenting them in class next week for critique and feedback on each piece individually and how they work as part of the series.

For my series, I continued with ideas started in the Voice and Vision at the San Francisco Art Institute.  I expanded the work to consider need for care for the environment.  I made a series of art quilts to make a statement about the fragility and preciousness of the natural world around us and our need to protect it.

Rather than working on one piece at a time, all pieces were in progress over the past several weeks.  I’m putting finishing touches on most this week.  I’ll be photographing my pieces as they are completed and posting more about it. For now, here’s a small piece.


Gash, 12″ x 12″