Monday, July 30, 2007

Victorian Trade Cards

Much of my mixed media work uses images that are over 75 years old; partially because of copyright law as items that old tend to be copyright free or in the public domain, and partially because I love the beauty of the art and printing methods.

Tonight's image is of an advertising card, aka a trade card. These cards were prpoduced in black and white in the 1870's and then when a printing method called chromolithography was invented in the late 1800's, the were mass produced in color. These cards came in products, or used given away as advertising for all the new products of the Victorian era. The industrial revolution made it possible to mass produce items, and this was one of the methods of advertising them, as well as the store that carried the items.

These cards were often collected and pasted into scrapbooks by women and children. Sometimes the cards were left whole, and sometimes they were cut out into various shapes.

More about trade cards can be found in the book Victorian Trade Cards by Dave Cheadle, printed by Collector Books. Though mainly a value guide, it is full of 225 or so pages of color examples, and the history of the cards. In fact, I am going to bring the book up for some night time reading.

Till tomorrow! Patti

Saturday, July 28, 2007

In Honor of the Moon

The past few days I have been away at a friend's but I took my camera and we made a bunch of girlie shots and played around with her new Canon Pixma printer and printed out a bunch of 4 x 6" prints on Office Max glossy paper. THEY LOOKED GREAT. She was so tickled that she had lovely photos of she and I.

I have been exploring digital photography as a means of documentation, of learning photoshop, and making art. I had a small epiphany today about how much I enjoy photographing people. I do not plan on becoming another Liebowitz or Avedon, but I do see it as a possible way of future income or new projects. What I love most is making people forget about the camera and be themselves and let their inner selves shine. I took HUNDREDS of portraits this year for the yearbook (my students did many too) and I am most satisfied when someone looks at their photos and says WOW, I like them!!! I also enjoy the interaction with them. Who knows where this new found love will bring me in the future.

I shot tonight's photos outside my side door. The moon is either full or near full and I wanted to capture it's eeriness. It made me think of werewolves and Dracula. I dragged the camera as I was taking the photo of the gargoyle so it looked like it was flying right off the house into the dark woods, like that one movie that starred Rae Dawn Chong in it from Tales from the Darkside. GREAT gargoyle story by the way.

I also particpated in a photo shoot tonight with an artist who is photographing people's favorite dream. THAT too was fun. I wonder if I will ever see the photos of me trying to fly....

till tomorrow, patti o light

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finishing up Projects

The last few days that I have been in the studio have been a time of finishing up a ton of little things that I have left undone. Pictures half framed. Collages not mounted. Sorting through materials that need to go into my upcoming Yart sale.

While doing this I came to the realization that the making of art is only part of the job. I need to finish up the artwork and present them in a way that is worthy of their creation, not stuff them in a box!

I bought a frame for the collage I posted on last night's blog. It is beautiful, so perfect for the piece. It was 35.00...and I thought, my art is worthy of such a beautiful frame. I can't wait till it is matted and framed!

Off to bed. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow with a friend and two 2 year olds named Alanna!

Tonight's art is a digital alteration of a collage piece that I did for a book on Blackbirds. It is very bizarre. By now you are probably thinking, isn't most of her stuff?!!! patti

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today's art and Fave Music of the week

I touch upon the story behind this piece in today's entry in my other blog Eat Man Drink Water. (link is here to the left and below) I think many of my readers bounce back and forth between my blogs as they sort of compliment one another and fill in the blanks. Sometimes. My motto is -- never tell all.

Perhaps I should make a story writing contest to go with this picture. I looks like something that should illustrate Poe or Lovecraft; much scarier than King. What I WILL tell you is that the ground is painted 8 ply mat board, and the illustrations are from a variety of antique engravings, prints, etc. The little devil on the bottom left is actually a Dore print from an original edition of Dante's Inferno (it was in bad shape so I do use a piece from time to time. Just too too good.) They are made using the Talbot method of collage.

I have got to find just the right frame for this. I could see a black tramp art frame, but HA what is the likelihood of finding one in a few days. And it has to be matted.

I HATE MATTING AND FRAMING. I know how to do it professionally, a friend of mine who is very anal about things like that taught me well. I just don't like it, but I am not yet at the stage where I can pay to have it done. (it could easily be a 75.00 job)

This week's top pick for studio music is the CD titled Namaste. The piece that I love most is by composer Gary Malkin and it titled The End of Suffering. It is a guided meditation by a Buddhist monk with music and vocals. Stunning. Go to the link I am providing, and click on "Click here and listen".Mary Beth, I know you are going to LOVE this. I owe you music girl!

It touches me deeply on both the personal and universal level.

The entire CD is good. Google it and listen to samples. I think Amazon has it. I-Tunes has it but I think it is only a partial album so nix that, unless you just want to download a song or two. The Rasa is a wonderful piece too, but they are all beautiful and have their own unique characteristics. I listen to this every night when I fall asleep.

In peace and healing, Patti

PS Here is the meditation:

May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos
Even in the darkest spots living beings are able to hear it clearly
So that all suffering in them ceases, understanding comes to their heart
And they transcend the path of sorrow and death.

The universal dharma door is already open
The sound of the rising tide is heard clearly
The miracle happens
A beautiful child appears in the heart of the lotus flower
One single drop of this compassionate water is enough to bring back the refreshing spring to our mountains and rivers.

Listening to the bell I feel the afflictions in me begin to dissolve
My mind calm, my body relaxed
A smile is born on my lips
Following the sound of the bell, my breath brings me back to the safe island of mindfulness
In the garden of my heart, the flowers of peace bloom beautifully.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thoughts While at the Dealership

I used this photograph in my personal blog today too. The rainy weather makes me lazy I suppose, as well as my @$%^@#^*!! allergies which cost me some time this afternoon as lethargy struck me and I had to lie down. Ok, so yes, not sleeping last night gave me a double whammy.

I had some time waiting for my car to be looked at, and I mused about being an artist. It is a 24/7 job, as makng art is only a part of the process. Every sunset,hike,movie, book, every MOMENT, pours into our vast vault of collective experiences. All that affects our senses is dumped into the vault, floating around, until bits and pieces get pulled and incorporated into some part of the creative process.

Life as a constant movie or story, a work of art in progress; our houses are installation pieces, our gardens active sculptural participants, our conversations just acts in a huge play. I live absorb my experiences to the very core of my being. I rejoice in its highs and lows, live in both the dark and the light.

Then my thoughts drifted to the IRS. If this is all so, then isn't almost every experience and expense an artist has tax deductible?

I will leave you with this silly thought. I am tired, I am done with thinking, and need to rest. I did get some work done in the studio and in a few days should have a few more pieces finished for my strange little wall of art.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Easing Back In

I actually got into the studio today to work for four plus hours. It seems like weeks since I had been in there for any solid amount of time, and I needed to get reacquainted with my space.

When I have not been in there on a steady basis, I just can't just walk into my studio and start working; I need to walk around, sweep, turn on the music, sort through my things, finish up a few projects that are lying around, and then start to ease myself into the heavier things like finishing up work, painting, or starting a new piece. After a while things start to happen, and sometimes I get on a roll and I can't stop. The muse comes to visit and ideas and work gush out of me.

It was such a beautiful day, and I left the door open so that I felt like the outdoors was one with my studio. My neighbor was having a big party in his back yard. I could smell the barbecue and wished that I could sneak in, load up a plate of food, and leave. I just recently walked outside again, and the party has grown louder, as the drinks have been flowing freely for a few hours I am sure

This little collage is one of my obelisk series. I dreamt that obelisks would come to kill me at night out of an inky blue sky. The images are still burned in my head.

I don't know how I will show this strange little body of work, not to be understood completely without knowing me and the tales that go with them. But then again, does it really matter???


Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Lesson Learned

I did not get to the studio today. Having not been home since tuesday, there was gardening to do, and shopping for the week's food at the farmer's market. Afterwards I sat to read for a while, and after being outside all day my allergies kicked in and I decided that I needed a nap.

Poof, there went the day.

After dinner Larry and I went to hear Sylvia Plachy lecture about her photography/photojournalism for various publications. As she was talking I realized that she was the movie actor Adrian Brody's mother. That aside, my lesson for the day was when someone asked her what she did when she felt blocked. She replied: "I sleep a lot, I read, I listen to music, I buy and new camera or lens, and most of the time it works" She also said it is part of the artistic nature to ebb and flow with ideas and energy. We can't always be "on".

That made me feel a bit better about the time I have NOT spent in the studio. I just have not had it in me for the past few weeks to do much. I have done some work, but sometimes after completing a piece (especially ones that are very autobiographical) I need some down time. Some time to work in my yard, and then take time to sit and enjoy it. Or to enjoy my house. Or my husband. Or my bed.
I guess if I were earning my living from my studio I would not be so cavelier and be in there more, but I have been taking time to smell the that I can paint them better.


PS I have this obsession of powerline towers. They remind me of something I saw as a young child in the Twilight Zone movie, which gave me reoccurring nightmares for years.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Taking ANOTHER Break

I have been away and not had a chance to sketch or paint as I have been helping my sister out with her young children. I have not been in the studio much at all, but find the time that I spend musing about my life and my art quite beneficial in deciding my next path. And, they say you need to spend 30% or your art time doing business, so this I guess is part of my 30% - reflection time.

When I think back to the time I was raising two young children as a mostly single parent, I find it amazing that I ever managed to make any art at all

I remember kitchen counters covered with projects, airbrushing my children's clothing line when Megan was napping, making jewelry into the wee hours of the night.

I wish I still had some of the stamina I had in my 20's. I don't seem to have that now. Sleep comes early, and I run out of steam around 5 PM.

I have had some time to think about where I want to go with my art and have decided that in order to get my art out to a larger market I am going to have to take some financial risks and invest in my art and in myself. And now I can do that without taking food out of my children's mouths as for the most part they are feeding their own.

I have a card design which I think rocks and will sell well..... and I won't say more in case anyone else gets the idea and runs with it which has happened countless times to me.

I have to do a bit more research, and then invest in the printing of 100 or so, and find my audience and market the design. That may include hitting the streets of New York and other cities, but its all one huge adventure, and I LOVE ADVENTURE.

To the power of positive thinking and success!!!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Fabulous Print Rail

Larry bought me a present a while was a four section print rail that he got from IKEA. Yesterday he installed it for me.

The rail fits together into a 10' ledge with ridges that allow you to put prints, works in progress, canvases, small framed pieces etc. to view. Once it was done (took about an hour to install and all you need is a screwdriver, level, ruler, and a pencil) I gleefully dug out a bunch of my work to look at.

I started putting my art together according to medium, subject, etc. It really helped me look at several small bodies of work at once, as well as lay out things that are in various steps of completion.

It rocks. It frees up space. It makes my work visible. It is a fabu item for any kind of space. Thanks Ikea, and THANKS LARS!!!!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Taking a Break

Just back from the Cape. I had bought my camera, sketching and watercolor supplies, my laptop, but I spent very little time making art or writing. Most of it was driving, shopping, walking, and just spending quality time with dear friends.

I am such a workaholic that it is often difficult for me to relax and let go and just have fun. On this trip I decided not to be so driven.

Internet access meant a drive into town and spending time without my friends, so I only did went once to take care of some pressing eBay emails, and after that I let it all go.

I went to one of the craft fairs on the Cape and enjoyed looking at the art and craft there. I took several business cards and made one major purchase.

I have been trying to figure out the "travel thing" in regards to a bag that holds my money, glasses, (sun and reading) my digital camera, an Ipod, a sketchbook and some pens, perhaps my watercolors, and my cell phone.

I have tried a backpack, which is overkill, I have tried a tote bag, which was OK, but did not have pockets. I have tried having 2 bags, but that is too much luggage.

I found a leather bag by Nericcio Leathers that looks like those Ameribags that you sling over your shoulder, but this ones strap (which is wider than most) unzips and it becomes a small backpack! It is made with fine leathers, smells great (I LOVE THE SMELL OF LEATHER)and has many pockets inside and out. The nice part is when you wear it as a backpack, the main zipper to the bag is facing your back for security.

I have not tried it yet, but I am sure it will work well for me. It was an investment (tax deductible for my business) and I am sure it will be my bag for many years to come. Both of my friends have also bought from this lovely woman before and attest to the quality of her bags. I have hot linked the company, so give her website a perusal.

Off to the studio!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

To Focus

The other day I was sitting in my studio and studying all of the work I had on the wall and on other surfaces. I saw landscapes, surreal collages, Victorian Pretties, cards, assemblages, watercolors, little illustrations, and some encaustic pieces.

I thought, wow, how versatile I am, but there was another little voice that said, yeah, and unfocused. You need to get focused.

When I had my first solo show about 6 years ago in a small gallery, my body of work was fairly consistent and consisted of surreal collages. I had been working hard in collage, experimenting with mixed media and came up with some wonderful pieces. Several over the past few years have sold. Several will go into my “YART” sale I am planning on having, some I will never sell unless I have to. But I worked for a few years devotedly in that medium and produced a good body of work.

Over the past two years I have dug out my paints and pen and ink and watercolors again as that is my true love. I truly desire to become more proficient in them, and the only way I will get better is by using them. Yet I still love collage, both traditional and digital.

Not only is my medium so varied, my subject matter is also all over the place: abuse, oddities, anthropomorphic animals, architectural, landscape.

I know that in order to have another show I have to focus on one or two themes and produce of body of 15-20 works that should be consistent in theme/size/presentation. I have to decide if I will do one theme and present it in one medium, or stretch the theme into whatever medium suits it.

If I only did not have to teach, nor take care of a house and a family. It is so difficult to follow the calling of artist and still have to do everything else. Some people left their families, like Gaugin. Some artists did it with families,and were successful, some famililes suffered greatly for the art of their parent/s.

But I do give myself credit for doing all that I can as often as I can, and as long as I am creating.

I am off to make a list to keep me focused. I will post that in my studio as a reminder and an inspiration. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Monday, July 9, 2007

Asher Durand at the Cole House

Yesterday Larry and I took a ride up to Catskill to the Thomas Cole house.

Thomas Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School of Art and changed the course of landscape painting in America. He was the teacher of Asher Durand and Frederick Church who became great painters themselves, and spawned a few generations of Hudson River Painters.

Cole lived a mere 47 years but his legacy lives on in history. The house has been restored after years of neglect. The state had bought Olana, Church's estate, and was offered Cole's house, studio and paintings for a pittance but turned it down. I bet they are kicking themselves in the butt now!

There is a small show of Asher B. Durand's work in one of the rooms of the Cole house, two of the paintings shown here. I took the photos in natural light as I would never flash artwork. Photos hand held on my Canon Powershot A75 (still need that mono pod however). Graphics get totally compressed here, but you get the sense of the paintings.

Durand was an engraver, and Cole recognized his talent and gave him painting lessons. Cole attended the academy only briefly, and was for the most part self-taught. (oh am I jealous..) Durand became quite a good painter, and is known for the painting Kindred Spirits which was a memoriam to Cole after he died. Cole is shown standing on a rock ledge in a generic Catskill landscape with William Cullen Bryant. The painting was sold to the Walmart heiress a few years ago and made front page headlines for its record-breaking price.

The tour was not long enough for me as I am a looker, however if you take the tour, you can also head up the road to Olana, Frederick Church's estate which is much more lavish than Coles. It has just reopened from more restoration work...and that will be our next trip. (Larry and I got married at Olana overlooking the Hudson over 10 years ago...another place of magic in the Catskills)

Two other mansions of note: Clermont on the Hudson, which was owned my the Livingstons of railroad fame, and Montgomery Place near Bard College. All are in the same area and are within 30 minutes or so from one another. Bring lunch and money as Olana and Montgomery place have quite lovely gift shops. Cole's shop is much smaller, but has some wonderful books.

PS: Bard collage is another wonderful place to visit. There is a museum, wonderful gardens, Fisher Hall designed by Frank Gehry, and the fabulous Spiegeltent Cabaret is up featuring incredible entertainment and dancing. See you there!!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Collage Techniques

I used a part of this collage in my Eat Man Drink Water post last night titled Faces of the Dead...a rumination on how sometimes I see the essence of people who have died, or who are not well, in the faces of others.

Some of you might think it a bit odd or macabre, I just see it as a different view into the life/death cycle. Or, perhaps it is some type of psychological projection.

This collage, though in keeping with my surreal style, uses different materials than most of my other works. I made this collage as a demo in my class, and it was so odd how it all worked. The kids were blown away too...and perhaps it was just a bit too weird for all concerned, but it happened, and I really like the piece.

The background was an advertisement or fashion photograph, the boy cut out from a National Geographic. I have not tried this method on anything but contemporary printing inks; I do not know yet if it will work on antique prints.

Those were the only two elements of paper in the collage. The rest was done with masking and using a product called Never Dull. I rarely use this in the class as it has fumes, but this advanced class was eager to use it, so it was one of those spring day projects to do with copious amounts of ventilation.

Never Dull is used in auto body and I believe dissolves grime etc from chrome surfaces. It also dissolves the inks used in the printing process. By masking out areas such as the pyramid and sections such as the leg, and the boys eyes using cheap removable labels cut into shapes, I rubbed the inks around till I got the desired effect, then pulled the labels off. The areas affected by Never Dull became faded and I was able to move the inks around in a painterly fashion. Behind the masks the ink remained untouched.. Each kind of paper is different, and there is only a certain amount of control one has over this method, but the unpredictability of it is the fun part.

After I was done I scanned each piece, then re sized the boy, and finished the collage in Photoshop. No filters, just scanning and playing with size.

I won't sell this collage or publish it other than here as I am using copyrighted materials that may or may not even be cool to post here, but since it was for educational purposes, I may be covered under fair use. Copyright is quite tricky and I try to do the right thing.

Any questions? Comments? You can leave them here or go through my email address found on my profile page.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Eat Man Drink Water Zine

Last summer I joined in a "zine" swap. A zine is usually as small book or magazine which is self published and can be about anything and produced in a myriad of ways.

This zine was based upon a collage I did..which is the title and the cover of the zine, and also the name of my personal blog. (Oh if I could REALLY talk about such things on a public blog!)

It is a silly little twisted poem with collages to illustrate it, much in the style of those morbid Victorian morality poems such as found in the book Srewel Peter.
You can find this little chapbook, another word for pocket gem, on Etsy and Ebay. Or directly through me. I guarantee it will give you a chuckle at the very least.

Off to an artist pre-opening party for our city's sculpture biennial, which I am not in, but am friends with some of the artists who are. After that off to shoot a Sweet Sixteen party for one of my students whom I adore.

Till tomorrow, patti

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

When Paintings Don't Work

I took some of my photos into my studio today and labored over a painting. After a good hour or two, I shook my head, put the canvas aside, and decided I was better off working on the order from Earthangel Toys. At least I would get something complete.

I was a bit frustrated with the piece, as the other came so easily. Ha. A lesson learned.

So what to do. I think I will attempt to redo the painting over the acrylics with oils. If nothing else it has been a lesson learned, and I can paint over everything later on I suppose. I will also get out one of my books on the Hudson River painters, one that my friend Kip gave me on Gifford comes to mind, and study their work. Sometimes it helps.

This is not the painting, it is a piece done in artrage, but for some reason the grapics are really compressed and look sucky. I think if you alter a piece too much it does something to the image. So much to learn about digital art. Grrr.

Happy fourth everyone...!!! patti

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Today was my last day in the city. Good thing, as I was running out of money. My two friends are not on an austerity budget like I am, and doing the museums and being out all day can get very pricey. Every train or bus is 2.00 a trip, and the only meal which cost me less than 20.00-30.00 was breakfast at Tom’s Diner. (they have the best BLTs that I have ever had, and they keep me fueled for a long time!)

Many of the museums cost between 12-20.00 to get into, unless you find one that is by “suggested donation”. The MET is like that, as well as St. John the Divine.

Yet it was worth every dine. I can take the trip off my taxes for either my business or for school, (I will probably split it between the two) I was inspired, I had fun. I laughed, I ate Thai, Indian, and Italian foods. I sampled new cheeses and drinks. And, I sketched.

Today’s pictures are sketehes I made while sitting either in open air cafes or on benches on Broadway.
At one point I felt my sketches getting tight, so I took out my watercolors and started sketching with those. They will loosen you up every time. I worked in a wonderful 5 x 7” or so Moleskin sketchbook, and used a black ink pen or pencil, and paint. I have a few hundred photographs to use as inspiration or in my work, and I am revitalized.

It has been an amazing time.


Visiting MOMA

New York City is over stimulation at times for me. The hustle and bustle, the sights, the architecture, the street art, the museums. We have not even been in one store (save the grocery store, the coffee roaster and the liquor store) to shop or buy anything. I even passed up books at the MOMA bookstore, though that one bible of work by ODD NERDRUM was mighty tempting, but it was 85.00 and it weighed about 10 lbs and I did not relish the thought of lugging that home.

After the best BLT I have ever had at Tom's Diner, we headed to St. John the Divine for some spiritual revitalization and a great place to shoot photos. I am well stocked for my lecture on Gothic Revival in New York City now. After that a trip to the MOMA, where my senses were constantly bombarded with art.

I love looking at paintings as you can see the richness of the technique and style of the artist which you can't see in a book. It constantly reminds me to get rid of any pre-conceived notions of what my painting is supposed to be, and just do it and do it and seek my own path. MOMA is six floors, and after hours of walking we did not have enough time to finish the entire museum.

We went back to our little cafe for more sketching. When I get home to my scanner I will post my little city sketches made while sipping on Italian sodas or some other special drink.

I could easily live in the city if I had an apartment like this one. It is giant, faces the River, and is full of art and is very tastefully done. Comfortable, not over pretentious. Full of books books books. The gentleman who lives here is a author, well known, whose writings have become movies. He has done well in life to earn this litte spot of heaven in a neighborhood that is safe and very quiet.

I am not sure what is on the menu for today. I have to leave later in the afternoon as I need to get into the studio and also decide how to celebrate my fourth. I am alone most of the day. I think I want to paint. I WAS going to go to Mohonk for the day..but am not totally sure about that yet. Perhaps if I get up early and paint in the morning I can do it all..........

A Monet for you today.....

Monday, July 2, 2007


I am in NYC with my friend Annie, at her cousin's huge apartment on Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson. It is a fabulous place; I feel like I am in another world.

We spent the afternoon at the Guggenheim which was wonderful and inspirational, as well as the views sitting inside the bus. Annie and I shot away with our digital cameras, and talked about some collaborative work based upon some of the work we saw at the museum. Many of the works we saw (Kandinsky, Rebay et. al.) seemed so contemporary in relationship to some of the artwork I see now.

The rest of the afternoon having drinks and calmari at an open cafe where we sat and sketched. The owners were cool with our hanging out, and we just sat and observed people and the surroundings.

Sunset was stunning, and I spent the evening photographing it through various windows in the apartment.

Today a visit to St. John the Divine, and who knows where else we will end up. Mondays is the day that many of the museums close, but there are some that remain open. I will seek them out. If not, the galleries should be open!

This sunset was taken w/my camera, and is not enhanced with any photo program. My laptop does not have anything on it, so you are getting this unadulterated.

It is has been beautiful here...70's, no humidity. You can't get better weather than this in NYC!

later, Patti

PS for the most incredible music go to Annie's relative's mypage and view his video. Geoffrey Castle is an amazing electric violin player! Click on his U-Tube video and watch him tear up the strings! Later! Patti