Saturday, May 26, 2012

Learn More ~ Do More

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.- John Quincy Adams -
"Blissful Chaos" is a small abstract you've probably seen on my website or Facebook in the past months. I started to complete these small non-representational abstracts over a year ago, and have to admit, I enjoy getting away from the large landscapes, now and then, to refresh my senses creating something totally different. Many times in conversations over the years, friends, who for the most part created realistically, have said, "I never could do abstracts." Well, honestly, years back, I never thought I could either and never thought I'd want to. As a young person, realism was always my soul-mate and, perhaps, I thought I was cheating on him. (+: But to grow as an artist, one must always be willing to learn, study and experiment in other areas. I dove in to books on the subject, reading about artists who explored the abstract and non-representational arts whether it was visual, music, or poetry. I came to realize that as an art, it was quite thought provoking and difficult. There were components to it just as with anything else that needed to be learned. I wanted to see, listen, explore and read to get the understanding of negative spaces instead of always enjoying the positive ones. In music it might be the unresolved or "outside" note. In poetry, the choice of an obscure word, phrase or metaphor to pull a poem together. In theatre, a lack of props to make imagination come alive. Interestingly, it was as I thought, a study, thoughtful, playful and an intuitive way of completing a piece. More on my discoveries to come...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finding Our Zen

As I sat pondering last week about an interesting blog post to write when I thought, why not introduce an artist I know. While reading an email from my Collage friend, Vijaya, from Mumbi, India, I realized as artists that we have so much cultural and artistic diversity to share. As an educator, I have always believed we can all learn, as well as develop our own knowledge base through relationships with others. Vijaya is a talented woman whom I'm happy to call friend. I have included two of her artworks within her writing. Please enjoy.
I met Kathryn at the yahoo collage group and since then, she has been my guru in many collage related ways. As a collagist I still have a long way to go and the sum total of my knowledge and experience is limited by the number of years I have spent doing this. So in my guest post on her blog today, I thought I would share what collage means to me. I think creating a collage is almost like Zen meditation. It is uplifting and fulfilling at the spiritual level. Let me explain. Zen is the Japanese word for the Mandarin Chán, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna meaning ‘meditation’. Personally, I find meditation tedious. Have you tried it? I find it difficult to sit down quietly for a length of time, with legs crossed, eyes shut, and concentrate on thinking nothing so we can give the brain a chance to rest and reboot as it were. I am told one needs discipline and training to be successful in meditation. Rather unregretful, I admit to being not concerned that I am not good at meditation, because I have a happier alternative. I love making paper collage. This is the next best thing to Zen meditation. I am convinced of it. I usually collect all the paraphernalia required and either stand at the dining table or sit on the floor. One could compare this to getting ready for meditation. Once I have decided on the broad idea of what I want to do, all I have eyes for is the colours that I am looking for. I find that without any effort on my part I am able to block out all the ambient noise and focus just on the tiny pieces of colour paper that I need at the moment. Sometimes I might spend hours bent over adjusting tiny bits of paper with tweezers and paint brush, unmindful of physical exhaustion. I am in Collage Heaven.
Meditation is said to calm the mind, so does collage making. Collage making is a very soothing and relaxing activity. I find that it quiets my mind, makes it more tranquil. It helps me forget the stresses of daily life. As a consequence, sometimes I also forget to fix dinner. Meditation is the process to know your consciousness – that you are not defined either by your body or your mind. You are just the witness to what is happening around you. Collage making does the same for me. These bits of paper have a mind of their own, and somehow they make themselves into a picture while I just watch out that they are glued well and flat, and stay within the overall theme. Sometimes these bits of paper can even change the theme and one can do nothing about it but go with the flow and bear mute witness. But that is a story for another day. Each torn piece of paper finds the right spot for itself like a jig-saw puzzle. Slowly the hazy idea in my brain gets created on paper. Each piece of paper torn by hand is unique in shape and size; thus, the collage creates itself to which I am merely a witness. So I believe collage is a kind of Zen. What does your Art mean to you? Do write in with your views and let’s compare notes. ******************************************* Thank you Vijaya for your words! I couldn't have said it better. Please drop by Vijaya's Facebook page and her blog and check out her art, say hello and become a friend. Vijaya's sites: Vijaya's Art and Vijaya's Art of Paper Collage

Friday, February 3, 2012

My New Website and a Small Toot!

Finally, back to my blog! I get so unfocused at times, and more times than not! There are so many things to do! First, some good news - I have created a NEW WEBSITE! It was time to update and also get away from iMac which was disappointing for the cost. If you haven't been to my new site, I am asking you to please look through it and give me an honest critique. You will not hurt my feelings. I am way beyond that! http://www.UsterCollageArt.com/ MORE NEWS! The two collages in my previous blog from April, Canyon Verde and Parts to the Whole were both juried in to two separate shows! You would think I'd "toot my own horn" now and then, but as an artist, I find it hard. My art friends tell me I'm crazy not to, but I do find it difficult. It's a humility problem, I suppose. Canyon Verde was juried in to an exhibit called Romancing the State, a Phoenix Museum exhibit at the Sky Harbor International Airport Gallery in Terminal 3. Being one of over 572 artworks submitted, and 194 artists, I was one of 60 artists chosen. Guess I should toot my horn, ring a bell or maybe just let everyone know! This is the second time my collage work has been chosen for an exhibit there. My small expressionist paper collage, Parts to the Whole, was submitted to the National Collage Society's Annual Juried Exhibit 2011 and was juried in there as well. There were so many talented collage artists there! I am honored to be among them. http://www.nationalcollage.com/2011_exhibit/2011exhibit8.html ( Mine is in the first column, 3rd down). Having a name that starts with a 'U' always puts one on the last page, but I'm okay with it. As I said, I'm honored! In the last several months, I have been painting, drawing, as well creating more small Non- representational/expressionist collage pieces. The small ones are fun and much faster to complete than my large 30 x 40 inch collages. Although, it's the matting and framing part that drives me to drink! Love creating the art, but hate the framing and photographing. That's why the painting gives me a break. I did a series of three desert plants that I will have printed on canvas to sell.
I have made a decision to have quality prints made for many of my collages to sell. So please, check out my new website and share it with others. In the past months, I have found a great light source for photographing my collages and getting little reflection especially with the gloss coating. LED lights from above in my recessed lighting sockets. It's a natural light and I've photographed my artwork in a completely darkened room. Seems to work if my eyes would focus with my camera! I promise to be back blogging at least once or twice month. This is my goal and I will try to stick to it! Later Alligators! Keep creating what you do best! (+:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Believe It and You Will Achieve It!

Success Secrets Movie
Success Secrets Movie: "Some will try to stand in your way, others will follow. William Feather said it best, 'Sucess... seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.' Watch this short video and find your ability to lead and inspire."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happiness is Completion

After working for so long on this particular collage, that didn't actually 'rock my boat,' I was bound and determined to get it completed and ban it from my studio. Hating unfinished pieces hanging around, and being in an collage slump for quite a while, I can tell you, first hand, that Play Days inspire one to finish and get motivated again! My friend, Dee was visiting the area after moving away, and I had her come over to play. She insisted she loved this piece I had put on the side over and over. You may remember it from last March's blog post. This was the start:



She demanded I finish it between our playing with colored pencils, her new artistic joy which she is quite good at! She also said if I'd finish it, she'd buy it! If there's one thing in this world that makes me uncomfortable, it's selling to friends. Because they are friends, I always feel weird, and that I should be giving them my work. Other artists have told me I'm insane, especially when they see me work and know how much time, thought, paper selection, and gooed up hands go into it. They also know it's my income too, but still, I feel funny. I'm sure many of you do as well. So, here's the finished piece, and it's traveling now as I write, to it's new home in Minnesota. It's all paper and collaged meticulously. Hope you like it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Secret to You...A Gift from the Secret Scrolls Movie

The Secret to You...A Gift from the Secret Scrolls Movie: "The Secret has been passed down through the ages... coveted, hidden, lost, stolen, bought for vast sums of money, and known by some of the most exceptional people who ever lived: Plato, Galileo, Da Vinci, Beethoven, Edison, and Einstein, to name but a few. Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. There are no limits. Whatever you can dream of can be yours, when you use The Secret."

Monday, February 7, 2011

So Long... Too Long! But Pulling it Together




There are those times when "Time" just gets away from you, doesn't it? And I've been away from my blogging for far to long! There have just been so many directions follow, and my old friend "Time" just keeps running past me in an endless race. I usually choose to write if I have something that inspires me to share artistically.

Trying to rest my brain from the larger 30x40 inch collages, but not wanting to stop collaging, I decided to finish up some of my creations that have sat on the sidelines staring at me. I'd swear they're talking to me! "Get done with me!" "I'm waiting..." , so I finished up Canyon Verde, a landscape 20 x 20" (above). The others were very jealous, tapping their feet in wait. But then, inspiration, as it does, took me down another path and I turned their backs to my table.

A couple of months back, I started to create some miniature pieces in a most non-representational format. Working small was always more difficult, but I found it surprisingly refreshing. I tend to go in a direction of landscape or portrait, abstract/impression, so this was so playfully different and I'm really enjoying it. (The only thing I hate is the matting and framing. Never been my favorite pastime.) The 'creating' part is much more fun. Don't get me wrong, working smaller is more difficult if you are striving for an abstraction of a representational piece, but working small in a non-representational piece really makes you think carefully about the Elements and Principles of Design. Naturally, you won't use all of them, but I try to strive for color, balance, line, harmony and perhaps, a few others.



I've been happy with 75% of them so far, but when asking others which ones they like, I'm always surprised. The ones that I don't particularly care for, they like? I'm always asking myself, what do they see that I don't, and why? It's good to hear the answers you receive. This is why a great critique of your art is good- positives and negatives. It helps us grow. Each person is drawn to something different, being individuals with different likes and dislikes. How many times have we finished a piece only to see 'mistakes', missteps or some little incongruency? And then, no one ever notices it but us! Perhaps, second guessing ourselves is not always helpful. I've come to the conclusion that we must strive toward quality in our art, and when it tells us it's done. It's done.
Please check my website at http://www.acomawestcollage.com/ or at the top and look at a few in "New Works" and let me know what you think. I promise to be back more frequently.