Collage of Ideas -Blog

Watching it All Unravel

Watching it All Unravel

Side view of collage

Ten years ago, I carefully shortened the sleeves on a jacket I had made on a knitting machine some years before. I didn’t want the whole sleeve to unravel, so I sewed bias tape on each of them before I cut them. Of course, the discarded part did start to unravel, and I was fascinated to watch the loops relax and let go.

I used that fabric in a large, forty inch square collage. The base was three sheets of heavy corrugated cardboard glued together that had been some of the packing on something we bought while remodeling the apartment that is attached behind my free standing garage. I covered this with a knitted dress-weight material that has a free-form design in sky blue, coral, and yellow on white, which folds around to the back side. The collage is framed with a piece of rope sewn to the fabric around the edge.

At the time we were being told that light bulbs would no longer be made— only those squiggly fluorescent things, that we could no longer use our fireplaces, that GMO foods were going to replace what we were eating, and people were buying “carbon footprints” so they could travel on airplanes without feeling guilty.

Close up of knitted sleeve

Magazine photos were pasted randomly on the fabric. The unraveling sleeve was added along the left side. The chaos in the center is a tangle of red bias tape and strips of a basket-making material from some kind of grass woven together.

Detail of red tape

At a give-a-way of basketry materials, I had picked up a sheaf of gold construction paper that had been stored rolled up for a long time, and had gotten wet on one side and corroded nicely so you can see the layers. I positioned this on the right side of the board on top of a photo copy of our founding documents—“We the People . . .”

Detail of yellow paper

I was surprised and pleased that it made it into one of the Lodi Art Center’s annual shows when they were being held at Woodbridge Winery.

This collage has been hanging above the clothes dryer in the utility room in back of the apartment behind the garage for the last five years because there was enough wall space next to the attached shelving.

Watching it All Unravel

While I was rummaging around in that room last week, I took the time to stand there and remember making this collage. It had felt like life as I knew it was unraveling when I made it. I was ahead of my time—now it feels like that again, but for different reasons.

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The Artist as Junk Collector

The Artist as Junk Collector

Detail of new yard art

I learned about recycling at a very early age. I remember stepping on vegetable cans, probably before I went to kindergarten. The procedure was to empty the vegetables into a pan, rinse the can, remove the bottom with the hand crank can opener, step on the can to flatten it, and insert the top and bottom into the flattened can. I was the person who flattened the can.  “They need it for the war,” Mother said.

When I was weaving, I recall reading how Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz scavenged the docks near her home for sections of rope for her sculptures because she couldn’t buy materials.

I’ve always picked up stuff from the ground and brought it home – shells, sticks, pine cones, stones. When I started making baskets, I picked up more stuff. As near as I can remember, my junk collecting went into high gear when I bought my house in Stockton. The house had been cleaned and freshly painted in parts of the inside.

But the garage was full of things the previous owners, and before that her parents, didn’t take with them. Drawers of screws, nails, nuts, thing-a-ma-jigs, rusty old tools, and scraps of wood, as well as a shed full of clay pots.

At an estate sale, I got a set of old army flat files that just happened to have handfuls of rusty little parts of things which got added to my growing collection. A few years ago, I started noticing interesting junk in parking lots, like eye-glass frames now flattened by traffic. All those little plastic pieces that come with electronics as part of the packaging also get added to my stash.

Almost twenty years ago at a National Basketry Organization conference, I was in a workshop taught by John Garrett who worked with metals. From time to time I checked his website and saw that he had moved on to making large wall pieces using what looked like metal and plastic items hanging in strings.

Fascinated, I decided someday I would try to make something similar using some of this junk I’ve collected. I’ve reached the point where, if I plan to do it someday, I’d best get on with it soon!

Early last year the florescent ceiling light in my kitchen broke and my sons installed a new LED fixture. The rigid plastic cover was about to go into my recycling bin when I decided it might be useful to make that junk piece I wanted to do. I was on the lookout at estate sales for something that would work as a base. I found a former towel rack that was the perfect size. I had some kind of a dish rack I picked up years ago that became the top to hold the strings.

Little by little I thought my way through the project. I bought four 100 count packs of slip rings online.

Front view of yard art

I found hose clamps at Harbor Freight to hold the slip rings to the top. I drilled holes every 3/8ths of an inch across the top of the kitchen light cover, and wired the dish rack to the plastic with wire I had kept from my father’s workbench.

I had planned to hang some small white plastic scoops that come in a supplement on the rings, but realized that they wouldn’t show up against the plastic back. Reds and oranges worked best so I went through my stash again. The main problems were how to attach things that didn’t have any holes in them. Old keys worked well, colored cable ties were easy. I had a box of blue plastic rings that came with bottles of milk, which my cats used to love to play with. They went onto the slip rings easily.

The whole construction measures roughly 45 inches tall by 14 inches across. It is sitting against a wall of my storage shed under an overhanging roof where it gets a gentle breeze but not a lot of wind. Maybe I should add some jingle bells to it.

The front view photo above may look like there is something else behind it, but that is the shadow because I took some photos in full sun, hoping to get the shine on the rings.

Side view of yard art

 

I was surprised how quickly it went together on one of those 100+ days when I worked indoors on it.

 

My boyfriend teases me, that when I’m gone my sons will toss all my junk into a dumpster. That’s okay with me, but before that happens I should think up some other junk projects.

Detail of end of strings on yard art
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The Little Things

The Little Things

Close-up of a section of my word collage

Over the summer, I have been trying out different materials and combinations of papers by somewhat following projects in the book “Creative Paint Workshop” by Ann Baldwin. I say “somewhat” because I don’t have some of the exact colors of paint she uses, and it is not locally available. I am starting to understand how glazes work and which colors go well together. For me, reading about the process doesn’t explain it. I have to experience it at the end of my brush to “get it.”

The other difference is that in the last two collages I wrote about, I was using papers from my trips that had certain meanings for me which I didn’t want to cover up completely. In this collage, I used pages of words taken from an assortment of old books, magazines, and my stash which I randomly selected. It is called a Word Collage because there are no images.

I remember seeing a large collage of words at one of the local art shows some years ago. The artist had carefully pasted down sentences, and phrases of words, line by line, horizontal and vertical, many of them well known sayings, and in the center was an image of a yellow rubber duck. I liked the idea, wished I had time to stand there and read the whole thing, and realized what an incredible amount of work it had been to make.

In addition to using no images, I did not build up texture with fabric, cardboard, or molding paste. I started with a piece of watercolor paper which had a few dabs of paint here and there. I pasted down papers from old books, magazines, and a library signature card.

First layers of papers and paint

I added a few rubber stamp images, letters made with a stencil, and a first layer of acrylic Quinacridone Burnt Orange paint. The different papers take up the paint differently because some are really old, and magazine paper has a different finish than books. I filled in the white spots with Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide. I added fluid Paynes gray around the edges.

Library signature card
Page from old dictionary

At some point I noticed that the page from the shorthand book had a title: “The Little Things.” With all the talk in the papers and on the radio, (I don’t do TV), about how divided we all are, it occurred to me that in personal relationships it’s often the little things “that divide us — that catch our attention.” So I picked up my Sharpie and wrote that phrase under the shorthand paper.

Page from shorthand book

The very dark area on the left side is an attempt to try a technique in the book. The instructions were to put a clear layer of matt medium over the first layer of paper and again after the paint layer. Then paint an area with regular acrylic Paynes gray put on thickly, and while it is still wet, write into it with a rubber paint shaper to reveal the lighter paint underneath in the letters. My try at this didn’t come out as well as I hoped it would, partly, I think because the paint I used is old and a bit lumpy.

The finished word collage

In the process of layering these paints, I noticed that fluid Paynes gray going over the yellow produces a sort of green hue which I liked, so I carefully touched a few more areas here and there to spread that green about.

The yellow shape in the lower left corner is the first leaf to turn color and fall off my birch trees. It sat on my kitchen counter for a week or more, until it became the final touch in this collage.

I like the idea of making collage using words, especially if I just grab various papers and paste them down, noticing what the words say as I look at it later, and pondering what they might mean to me now.

 

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Finding the Focal Point

Finding the Focal Point

I returned from my June trip to Florida with a large envelope of papers from my week at the American Conchologists annual convention, so of course, I needed to make a collage with them.

First layer

I had the beautiful green and blue resort guide and the mandatory wrist band, along with the light blue convention brochure with shells and a pair of glasses like R. Tucker Abbott wore, whose 100th birthday we were celebrating. Parking tickets from the beach, as well as the one week fishing license I bought in case I happened to pick up a shell inhabited by a hermit crab. I had a dozen bidding tags from the silent auctions of beautiful shells, papers from the Parade of Snails where I had two entries, and raffle tickets.

 

I used Yes Paste to adhere some of these items onto a sheet of watercolor paper for my first layer. I added green and yellow acrylic paint to blend the edges with the base.

Paint added after first layer pasted

I still had all the papers from the flights to and from Ft. Myers, Florida. I had two boarding passes and a transfer tag going to Florida. Coming back I had a total of seven boarding passes. Having checked our of my room and turned in my rental car, the curb agent printed out the first boarding pass, but couldn’t print one for the second flight because it had been cancelled.

The indoor agent, after spending forty minutes on the phone to get advise on how to get me back to California, printed out three boarding passes and hand wrote on a blank pass – at my request – the arrival time and departure time for each flight. When I got to the gate, I inquired about the pre-boarding option because I’m always holding up the aisle getting my carry on stuff settled. She printed out a new set of boarding passes.

Going through security in Ft. Myers, my carry-on was selected for a random search, so I was handed a form on heavy paper telling me that my bag had been inspected, even though I was standing right there watching her plow through my precious new shells from the auctions.

I checked two bags on the trip home. The small one, containing my dirty laundry, didn’t make the third flight due to the tight schedule which generated a full page “Courtesy Lost/Delayed Incident Receipt” as well as another tag on the bag when it was delivered the next day.

Second layer of papers

I added a second layer of some parts of these papers and more paint. When I looked at my work the next day, I saw that I had light and medium areas, but almost no dark areas. To solve this problem I went out into the yard and cleaned up some areas that needed attention for several days.

When I got back to my collage, I experimented with turning the work around to see which way I like best. I still didn’t have a good focal point. Mostly a blue card stood out as the main focus!

Orange paint added. Turned top to bottom.

A few days later while thinking about the trip as a whole, I realized that the most memorable moment was early Wednesday evening as I was waiting with others in the lobby for the Welcome Party to begin. Suddenly, I was greeted by a man I had met in January of 2013 when the shelling trip I was on had lodging at his beach-side guest house in Panama. He and his wife had spotted me in the crowd. They proceeded to tell me all about the year long round-the-world trip they were about to begin. Half an hour later, I was listening to him give a piano concert for all of us.  Such a wonderful memory.

The next day, still not knowing how to fix the collage, I remembered that the Conchologists magazine had written about his performance at the convention and had a photo of him at the piano. Why not make him the focal point? I made a color copy of the photo to add to the collage. I even used the trimmings from the photo as dark elements along with a bit of dark paint.

Remembering Captiva

Yes, I know he is upside down. I like it best that way.

 

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New Prayer Flags

New Prayer Flags

Detail of new Prayer flags seen from the yard.

On the first of August, my local mixed media group made prayer flags. Our hostess had cut out rectangles of fabric for us to work on so they would all be the same size. Our group has a custom of making these flags when one of our members needs our prayerful support, and give them to her to enjoy.

The first time I made prayer flags at home I used a fairly heavy fabric, probably about twelve inches by fifteen inches, and strung them on a thick cord so I could hang them in my yard between trees.

The next summer, when I was in the mountains with the basket makers, one of the members brought supplies and even a sewing machine so we all could make flags out of silk. We painted them with Dye-na-Flow fabric dye, working outdoors under the towering trees. We painted a ten inch strip about forty inches across. When they were dry, we sewed bias tape across the top so they could be hung up when we got home. We made three cuts in the painted silk fabric, upward from the free side to the bias tape, so they would flap in the breeze.

I hung mine across the beam on my carport, just outside my kitchen window, where I see them every day. After about two years they began to shred in the winter storms. I retrieved the pieces to use in collage.

Two years ago when I visited my son and my three granddaughters, I took acrylic paint and silk fabric with me and we painted prayer flags outdoors. The girls hung them in their bedroom windows. I brought mine home and replaced the old ones which were nearly gone.

The rains this past spring trashed what was left of those flags. I had already put “New Prayer Flags” on my summer to-do list, so last week I got out some odd fabric and made another set. I’m not sure where my silk fabric is, and didn’t want to search for it. This fabric is dressy, probably a polyester, in a pale pastel orange, with a woven pattern. These are also a longer length than the previous ones I made.

I never quite know what to paint on the flags, and the dye is somewhat tricky to control, since I don’t use it often. I decided to try some stencils. I was pleased that the dye worked well with the stencils. I attached an extra long length of bias tape across the top so I could hang a bell on each side of the flags. I only made two cuts this time because I didn’t plan where the cuts would go before I painted. When the Delta Breeze is blowing, I sometimes here the bells ring.

Prayer Flags seen from my kitchen window.

Once I got my new flags installed, I got started on the rest of my to-do list. I’m in the process of a reorganization of the closet and cupboard spaces. I’ve been trying on garments I no longer wear, many of which no longer fit well because my body has changed shape. My feet no longer like most of the shoes I have enjoyed wearing for years.

The rest of this week is supposed to be very hot, so I won’t be doing much outside. From what I hear on the radio, much of the nation is having a hot summer.

I’m still working with my shell collection, going through family by family, trying to correctly identify each shell and updating both the handwritten log and the digital record.

And I may even get to some collage making. Stay cool and make some art!

 

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Seven Weeks without Writing

Seven Weeks without Writing

Beginning of collage using map from a day trip along the Columbia River near Portland

I can hardly believe it has been two months since I wrote anything here. No excuses – I just haven’t felt I had anything much to say. When I wrote on June 5th, I talked about managing my energy, and I’m still working on that.

The week after my last blog I was getting ready for a cross country trip to the Conchologists of America convention on Captiva Island, Florida. I was gathering together things I wanted to take, a few each day, which turned out to be a really good thing. The day before I left, I heard yard-work noise in my next door neighbor’s yard. When I checked, I saw that a man was pulling vegetation off the low hanging wires that run behind both of our houses.

I had been fretting about this vine growing in the neighbor’s yard that had somehow gotten up into these wires years ago. Each year the mass of vines got larger and was advancing westward to where they now were about six feet into my back lot line, climbing into the tree in the yard behind mine which was hanging over the fence and beginning to touch the roof of my storage shed. Fortunately, I was able to get the man to remove the mess from my yard for a small amount of money.

Shortly after he left, another man came by to discuss the problems I am having with some of the sprinklers in the yard. I was very glad I had almost finished packing the day before.

In the June 5 blog I also talked about how driving seemed more difficult than I was used to. I may have discovered the reason. In December last year I got new glasses and contacts. I was frustrated with the new contacts but couldn’t figure out why and decided that maybe it was just a getting older thing. If I was in a familiar place, like the grocery I go to most of the time, things seemed okay except that I noticed I was more comfortable wearing my prescription sunglasses while in the store. But if I went into a store I didn’t know, I was having trouble finding things. Everything looked fuzzy and I was just more comfortable staying at home. And at home I couldn’t read what I was writing on my desktop computer unless I leaned way over the desk.

I arrived in Florida after dark, got in an unfamiliar rental car, and started the forty mile drive to the resort on Captiva Island. I had a simple map with the main roads on it, but needed to make the correct turns to reach the causeway to the islands. On the roads that had large well lighted overhead signs I was doing okay, but the local signs on the side of the road were not readable until I was right next to them.

I did make the correct turn and located the road to the causeway. As I was driving, I remembered that my old contacts from last year were now my spare ones and were in my suitcase. In the morning I put those on and I could see a lot better. Since I’ve been home I’ve been seeing my eye doctor as he tries to figure out what is off with the new lenses. This is still a work in progress.

I have a number of other situations going on that seem to require numerous steps to resolve and need the help of other people, so nothing is happening quickly, and the issues hang out in the back of my mind.

My yard, being a mini fruit farm, takes a lot of time in early summer. First were the apricots in May. It is always a game of how long can I leave the fruit on the tree to ripen and still get some of it before the squirrels take them all. They managed to eat all the early crop of figs before any of them ripened. With the pleasant weather we had in June, I was picking strawberries and blackberries every day, and so were the birds.

When I saw how fast the white nectarines were disappearing from the tree, I picked the largest ones, and the next day the tree was completely empty. I guess squirrels don’t like plums as much as other fruits because there were more than enough for both of us. Of course it helped that the tree hadn’t been trimmed the last two years.

So a week ago my son, Chris, and grandson, Vinnie, came to Stockton and we trimmed all the fruit trees, and other growth hanging over the fence, which had grown too big and too high for me to reach. We moved an amazing amount of foliage out of my yard.

I started a collage on July 13 using items from my April trip to Camas, Washington. (See photo at top of blog.) I worked on it three days in a row, and then couldn’t get back to it until last weekend, when it was too hot to be outside. I’m not one of those artists who can do ten minutes a day and come up with wonderful work. But I think I’m about finished with it now.

Remembering the fun I had with my son Dave

For the rest of the summer – August and September – I have ivy to cut back the full length of my yard on the west side, and drawers and closets to clean out of things I don’t use. My shell collector self wants to continue organizing the collection every day, while my inner teenager wants to sit around reading, with ice tea and ice cream. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

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A Change of Mind

A Change of Mind

On Friday last week, I washed my dirty car and filled the gas tank because I was planning to attend the Bay Area Basket Makers (BABM) meeting the next day. I searched thorough my supplies of cord and wire, beads, and tools I might need for the looping project they were doing this month.

Looped Suncatcher

I have done looping, sometimes called knotless netting, several times before, so I got out a piece I did years ago using wire and beads with some wisteria vine as an example of what could be done. Last year in a workshop, I did a small amount of looping with wire on a piece of jewelry, so I stuck that in my bag as well.

Looped wire over beads

I put my comfortable old lawn chair in the car. I hard-boiled an egg and made egg salad sandwich filling before I went to bed. I wanted to get to bed a little early, but as usual I was doing something interesting, and time sped by.

When my alarm went off at 6:30, I turned over and snuggled in for a few more minutes of rest. When I got up at 6:47, I contemplated the 75 mile drive into Oakland where the meeting is held. Anymore, it’s not the distance so much as the amount of traffic on the interstates, and the cutting in and out by drivers going over the speed limit significantly more than I am.

I used to enjoy the distant views of Mt. Diablo, and the hills on the Altamont. This time of year there is usually a flock of sheep working a field in Tracy. I can’t even glance at these sights anymore. The other cars on the road now require my complete attention, and it is more tiring than enjoyable to drive into the Bay Area.

I have begun to think about how much energy my various activities consume, and I find myself planning what I will do each day on how much energy I feel I have to work with, and how important I think the planned activities are.

Even though I felt some sadness that I would not see some friends, I decided to go back to bed for another hour.

After breakfast and reading the newspaper, I unpacked my supplies and sat down at my work table to see what I could do with them. I had picked out some Rat-tail, a shiny, slippery, polyester cord. I tried tying it to a piece of driftwood, and after two rows of looping, determined that it was not going to turn out well.

But while working with the material, I wondered how it would work on a twinned project like the ChapStick holders I like to make. I used the strips of Rat-tail I had undone from the driftwood. It was difficult to get the holder started because of the slickness, but I liked how the cord was to work with after I had several rounds completed.

Rat-tail cording in half finished ChapStick holder

When I got hungry for lunch I made the egg salad sandwich I had planned to take to the meeting. After eating, I took care of a few little chores I had been putting off all week. At that point I became aware that I had some indigestion, and I was glad I wasn’t in Oakland needing to drive all the way home to Stockton.

A bit of peppermint soothed my stomach, and a nap seemed like a good idea. I can tell you that I know six hours of sleep at night is not enough for me anymore. But, as a life-long night owl, I haven’t mastered getting myself into bed early enough when I want to be somewhere in the morning.

Sometimes a hesitation and change of plans, even when it feels like laziness, is the best option for that particular day.

 

 

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Palm Bark and Handmade Paper Series

Palm Bark and Handmade Paper Series

Close up of palm bark hanging with an inchie

In a watercolor class about four years ago the instructor was demonstrating working in a series. If I had heard this idea before, the concept and reasoning had not lodged in my brain. She explained that if you worked on three paintings at a time they would likely have some similar colors and perhaps some similar content, which would look good, grouped together in an exhibit.

Woven chenille fabric with driftwood
Woven chenille fabric with driftwood.

Since then, I keep hearing the word “series” from all sorts of artists, in reviews, in workshops, and technique books.  Thinking back, I did some limited series when I was weaving chenille fabric and draping it around driftwood, and when I was weaving baskets out of kelp.

If you are working with specific materials using requisite tools, it makes sense to make several items at a time using those materials and tools.

One of my goals for rainy weather this last winter was to work with the palm bark that comes off my neighbor’s two towering palm trees. This is the stuff that is flexible like a fabric, but also sheds little scraps all over when you handle it.

One day I picked up so much of this in my yard that I spread it across my drawing board to dry out. I never put it away, and one week I finally sat down with some colored cord called gimp, a needle, some beads, and a stack of handmade paper.

Work table with spools of gimp, handmade paper and palm bark

I started shaping the bark and adding a sheet of the paper, stitching them together, making a loop on the backside for hanging. Once the two surfaces were attached, I left hanging threads for adding beads.

Palm bark with handmade yellow paper

I made seven of these over two or three days. To some I added a feather or two. I find a lot of feathers in my yard from the jays, doves, and other birds. And then they sat on my drawing board waiting for . . .?  I didn’t know what else to do with them. They needed something to be a focal point.

The leader of my local art group was all enthused about making “inchies” at that time. An inchie is a one inch square painting on paper, usually abstract and colorful, which can be used in a mosaic of some sort, or to cover an ugly box.

Ah- ha! I had some inchies left from the last time we did this. I rummaged through them and selected a few to complement the colors of my bark and paper constructions. Those tiny bits of color made all difference.

Palm bark, feathers, beads, and inchies.
Bark, paper, feather, and inchie
Palm bark, paper, inchies, with beads

 

Now we are headed for summer, I hope, and my bark and paper series is hanging next to my drawing board, or still laying on it, waiting for me to decide what to do with these somewhat fragile creations.

 

I’ve learned the hard way that this type of hanging does not survive well for a show if it has to be packed up, moved from place to place, and handled by others. I need to find a place in my house where I can hang them for awhile, until I gift them to my friends.

 

Working in a series is fun, generates new ideas, and may produce a volume of work more quickly than doing one piece at a time.

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Springtime Here and There

Springtime Here and There

Tulips in garden before my trip

Early in April my garden woke up, and I was seeing clumps of bright tulips everywhere. My grandson, Vinnie, helped me plant them probably six years ago. I was surprised to see four to six blooms for each bulb we had planted. They seemed especially bright and happy with all the rain we had this winter.

My iris plants started to bloom the middle of the month as I was getting ready to fly to Portland to visit my son and three granddaughters who live just across the river. I was hoping they would still be blooming when I got back.

This trip was a nice change of pace for me without my usual “to do” list. We all went to dinner together on Sunday evening, and I met their two new kitties, Chester, a black long-hair, and Chuck, a shy, black short-hair. The two oldest girls are in high school and college who are either gone all day, or in and out every few hours. My youngest granddaughter is living with her mother.

My son and I had a lot of time to talk, which is such a gift when I don’t see him every year. Tuesday I had an appointment in Portland, after which we did a quick tour of Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano that is now a park in the midst of neighborhoods.

Wednesday, when asked what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to see the Columbia River Gorge that I keep reading about from time to time. I had mentioned that I wanted to do some walking while I was there.

Trillium along the trail

My son knew about a mostly flat, short, hike to a river overlook on the Washington side. When we arrived at the river, another hiker was digging up huge dandelions just above the retaining wall. He said he wanted to give the native plants a chance to fill in the area.

Columbia River from Washington side looking east

After we walked back to the car, my son drove back the way we came and went over the bridge to Oregon. We rode up the original road US 30 along the river going east. We stopped at Vista House, a round stone building, built in 1916, where we could take photos looking up the river.

Vista House
View of the Gorge looking east

He pointed out the hillsides where the Camp Fire had burned last summer. We had some lunch before crossing back to Washington over the Bridge of The Gods. We saw the Bonneville Dam which provides the electric power for the Portland area.

Riding through wooded, hilly, windy roads all week was so beautiful. The fruit trees were blooming, as well as the dogwoods.

I got back to my Stockton home at 2:17 am on Friday morning due to a rescheduled flight. Later that afternoon, I was delighted to see that the irises in my garden were taking their time to come into full bloom.

Marilyn’s Iris garden

My rose bushes did their first “rush” to bloom while I was gone, and are now ready for some dead-heading. It’s nice to go away, but I really love and enjoy my own garden.

Iris in Marilyn’s garden
Close up of Iris
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Does Making Collage Help Organize Your Mind?

Does Making Collage Help Organize Your Mind?

Shortly before the beginning of March, the leader for my local art group sent us an email asking for ideas for projects for the next meeting or two. I reminded her about the time our group had fun making collage by starting a piece, and then passing it to the person on our right, who would add some elements until time was called, and the piece moved again to the right.

I provided 11” x 11” watercolor paper for the substrate, and brought an assortment of printed papers, old book pages, maps, corrugated cardboard pieces, and fabric scraps. Members were told to bring scissors and glue of some kind.

Several of our new members had never done collage before, but quickly got the hang of adding a scrap of color here and there before passing it on. We did this until we got our own piece back, with a chance to add some finishing touches.  I should have taken a photo of the collage I came home with, but I didn’t think of it until after I added a few more pieces.

Orange 3-D fan shape

I had started out with some large pieces of aqua colored paper sprinkled with white star shapes, and a page from a foreign language book. When it came back to me, someone had added a 3-D orange fan shape out of some stiff vellum, a small dark red shape topped with a yellow button, and a good size purple bird shape made of crumpled tissue paper. Someone added a fairly large piece of purple netting. Another member had found my name on one of the papers I brought, cut it into pieces and scattered them about.

Crushed tissue paper bird

At home, I sat it up on the end of my work table for several days, so I could glance at it through the day. What could I do with all these bits of color and shape so it didn’t look like the world was flying apart?  Eventually, I added a few dark pieces along parts of three edges, as well as a layer of green tissue paper over two sections to try and “pull things together”, which allowed the purple bird to be the main focal point.

Everybody added something collage

I must admit there are some days when my mind feels like this collage!

Two weeks later, our group met again and we each worked on our own collage. Some members had thought about what they wanted to make, and had brought papers to create their vision.

I didn’t plan ahead. I rummaged through papers when I got to the group and selected them mainly on colors that appealed at that moment. I paired them with some of my yellow handmade paper, torn into shapes to go with the large pieces. The paper substrate I was working on had a few black lines someone had painted long ago. I decided to let them show between the pieces I added.

Once I had the main elements pasted down, I couldn’t decide what to add next. Someone in the group encouraged us to use some tissue paper she had painted with watercolors. Adding a random piece to connect my larger shapes produced a really exciting element. After I got home, I added a small rust colored image about one third down the left side. Up close it is a set of keys tossed on a small tray.

March 2019  – Where Is Spring?

By April, our leader was full of new ideas for the group. Perhaps working with collage has an organizing effect on the mind.

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