contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Collage Thoughts on the 12th International Collage Exchange

Collage is the twentieth century's greatest innovation.
~ Robert Motherwell

I love the art of collage. My own process of making collage is always evolving. I’m constantly exploring ways to alter papers, pushing composition, and trying different ideas.

One thing that is fairly constant in my process is to trust my instinct to tell me when the elements are just so.

Of late I have been laying papers on the support, arranging and rearranging, then pondering. Often I decide to remove something from the composition.

When I think I’ve got it I lay a piece of glass on top of the collage which flattens the whole composition so I can step back and take a good long look. Sometimes I just know the work is complete and other times I run a mental check list of elements and principals of design.

For me, the enjoyment is all about the process of creating, exploring, being authentic and striving to continue to grow as an artist.

When I started to attend workshops, I first studied with Pat Dews. I learned a lot! Pat says in her book Creative Composition and Design “As important as it is to understand the elements and principals of design, there is a lot to be said about something just looking and feeling “right.” Uniqueness in personal vision can be more important than technical skill. Nurture and stimulate your imagination. Listen to your intuition and go with your gut feeling.” Good advice.

Another artist who knows the joy of bringing pieces together to make a pleasing whole is Joan Schulze.


Collect, combine, define, compose,
discard, cover and peel.
look, mark, cut,
refine, paste and press.
shift, touch, observe,
decide…accept beauty.

~Joan Schulze 1999

with permission of the artist, from The Art of Joan Schulze.

Following are several of the collage I received in the just completed 12th International Collage Exchange, with links when available. Enjoy!

Journey 9, by Donna Watson

New York Times Series #6, by Jeanne E. Rohen

Window Tracing, by Mary Ellen Long

Untitled, by Renea Erickson

Oak #5, by Jeanne Mankinen

Jeanne's statement: This year my collages reflect my concern for the environment - including both animals and plants. I hope that humans will make progress in appreciating and caring for other species on our beautiful planet.

Affirmation 9, by Jette Clover

In Touch 13, by Cordula Kagemann

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Contemporary Collage Art

I love an art which allows me to document my place in this mix... This is my past and my future. It has its own logic and finally, its own sense of fulfillment.

~Burton Silverman

Yesterday was a banner mail day because my exchange collage from the International Collage Exchange arrived. I got to sit down and look through my new collection, one by one. Each collage is unique and beautifully presented. They came from Germany, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria and the USA. I’ll get them all scanned in and share some with you soon.

Collage artists often tend to behave like squirrels or pack rats, gathering all kinds of materials and storing them away for eventual incorporation into their art work.”

~Gerald Brommer

Does that sound like you? It certainly sounds like me!

The collage above is a new one of mine in my on-going experiment with abstracted figurative art, loosely based on my interpretations of tribal art. I have several more in process, awaiting resolution. I find it interesting to push and see just how abstract they can be and still read as a figure.

Sometimes I am asked about collage and techniques. If you are interested in collage I recommend the book Collage Techniques, A Guide for Artists and Illustrators by Gerald Brommer. It was published in 1994, and has fabulous examples from artists I admire including Katherine Chang Liu, Peggy Brown, Fred Otnes, Kurt Schwitters, Edward Betts, Alexander Nepote and many others.

Obviously, the newest techniques for digital collage are not discussed, as they hadn’t been invented yet. The topics Mr. Brommer discusses apply no matter your approach, including materials and techniques, subject matter and design. To learn more about the book go

Artist’s statements intrigue me. They are an important piece of graceful promotion of your art. I have discussed one of my favorite examples at my other blog, Create Your Best Life Coaching.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Individual Expression

…there was a long time when I wasn’t completely satisfied with what I was doing…not that I didn’t think each collage was good, but they didn’t have the message…finally, when I felt I had the message, then I thought, okay, now.

~Hannelore Baron

Making art is like a conversation for me. As I work I converse with the piece and the piece converses with me. I hope to communicate my message through the work.

If I am lucky the work tells me what it needs. Once the painting or collage is complete, I hope the conversation continues between the work and the viewer, and on some level between the viewer and the maker.

Sometimes that awareness of the message, the conversation, can distract me from the elements that go into a work of art. The techniques, the design and the craftsmanship remain important, and I must remember that part too.

I’ve been trying to move to another level with my work, one with the message and the craftsmanship equally expressed. I have tried a number of ideas and approaches to my current subject matter. Each experiment has been worth while. I think I have found my direction, although I’m at the beginning of this series.

We make art because we have to! We have no choice but to express ourselves visually. We share our visions, our sensitivities, and our compassion. We share our agony, our wrath and our frustrations. Through our art we lay ourselves out on paper for all the world to see. When we exhibit our work, others can explore and experience our beliefs, our reactions, our biases, our loves and our spiritual beings. It takes special people to share themselves with others in such personal ways, and such people are called artists.

~Gerald. F. Brommer

These two small studies are satisfying to me. I can work from this place. The working title for the series is Story Line. The concept is solid and I know the message, at least at this initial level. More may be revealed to me as I work.

Mr. Brommer goes on to say of course our products have something to do with technique, decoration, craftsmanship, design and subject mater. But these are merely tools that help us create more effective art…help us communicate more articulately. What we express visually is what is within each of us, for that is the foundation and purpose of our art. We express reactions; we help others see more differently or more clearly; we assist in the recognizing of relationships. We explore visual dynamics and report on human events. We decorate surfaces and we express unbounded joy in the very act of creating. We create because it is an essential part of our lives. We cannot help but be artists…Regardless of the media, styles, size or subject matter, good art is determined by the quality and effectiveness of sincere visual expression.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Let’s Visit a Studio in Denmark!

I feel like it’s time for another studio visit. The “build your own studio” project here is moving forward – lots and lots of sanding going on. I understand when that is done, the primer can be sprayed. Then I think there will be something to show you. For now, it’s just a lot of dust.

I want to share with you the studio of Danish artist and architect Line Juhl Hansen. Line’s work appeals to me because of her strong use of shapes, her use of line and the space she creates in her work.

Line shares her studio space with another artist, graphic designer Sidsel Gaustadnes. With Line’s permission I am reprinting parts of an article from Boligliv magazine, only in English.

“In the heart of Aarhus, a short distance from the harbour and the heavily-trafficked approach roads, a small oasis of charm and character lies hidden. Surrounded by old mews and apartment blocks are old industrial buildings and workshops… this place is called “Kærlighedsstien”, and for a couple of hundred metres it is reminiscent of a calm breath of air in the middle of the city traffic. In No. 7, the artist and architect Line Juhl Hansen and graphic designer Sidsel Gaustadnes have their base in one of the old workshops – Line with her paintings and Sidsel with her graphic design company, Spagat.”

“Line has worked as an established painter for a number of years and is represented in some of the country’s leading galleries. With her delicate sense for graphic design, Sidsel has created graphic identities for companies for several years. When art meets design a really special vibe emerges, a vibe the two women invoke in both individual and shared projects.”

Line’s blog is in English.

I have been following her work for a while now. Line tells me she has a book of her work that will be available soon.

Line also has work on Etsy and she holds workshops in her lovely studio.

Looks like fun! Thanks Line, for being part of this series on Artist Studio Visits. More of the article, in English, is available here at Décor 8 blog.

For more about what I have been doing go here.