Creating Postcards Part 3

Dear Liza,

I’m making more postcards! This time I have been focusing more on who the cards are for before I make them. It turns out, if I think about a person while I hunt through my collage box, things show up that I hadn’t seen before. It is some sort of weird picture-association Jedi mind trick.

For this batch of postcards, I thought about my newest friend Amy, my old friend Rick, my French teacher Veronique, and my newly-retired teacher friend, Cynthia.

Amy lives in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland. Every time we visit her, we get stunning views of Mt. Hood. When I mentioned this to Amy, she told me that she was as fascinated by the mountain as I am.

So of course the mountain had to be on Amy’s card, as well as some images that show her love of her garden.

My old friend Rick has an odd sense of humor and a long, tangled history with religion.

For his card, I put a silky terrier’s head on top of a print of a Cardinal on his throne, placed so Frida Kahlo’s head flowers and wallpaper shows. The foil that came wrapped around Christmas pears make up the finials of the throne.

Veronique is from Belgium and loves beauty in all forms. She is multi-lingual and has been an inspiration to me for many years. This Diego Rivera painting reminded me of her. The French on her card says “You must water the flowers” and reminds her to relax and appreciate life.

Cynthia and I taught together for many years and took French lessons together from Veronique. Cynthia has a Master’s degree in library science and is a cancer survivor, and has recently retired. The many changes in her life are making things a bit hectic. The French says “There are so many things to do.”

I am having so much fun making these small, mailable pieces of art.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art Like Tinkertoys

Dear Liza,

There are all kinds of art. Painting, sculpture, singing, writing, acting, architecture. All of these consist mainly of a set of skills combined with a desire to explore or show the world in a certain way.

I am not particularly good at any of them. I can draw a cat that looks like a cat if I have to, but it isn’t my strong point.

And, I’m realizing, that doesn’t preclude me from being an artist. Just like so much of what I enjoy in the world are combinations of things, the way images are arranged or layered, can be a work of art.

This is where collage, mosaic, and assemblage come in. The arrangement and layering of paper, images, and objects as a work of art that explores the way the artist sees the world.

To me, it feels more like playing with tinker-toys. I find bits I can manipulate and put them together to make something pleasing to my eye that says, well, whatever I want it to say. And, for want of a better word, I will call it art.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Collage-a-Person

Dear Liza,

I have not been doing as much art lately, because I have been doing more prep work in the garden allotment. But for my upcoming birthday, Grandpa Nelson got me a nice new jar of Mod Podge , so I felt inspired.

Saint Sweet Sophia of the Golden Pear Salad

I grabbed a few Better Homes and Gardens Magazines and started pulling out pictures. Advertisement photographs joined with plates of food and other bits and pieces got put together to make some unlikely icons.

San Miguel of the Root Vegetables

As I was trimming and gluing the pieces down, my imagination started creating the names of these unlikely Saints.

Saint Stevie, Defender of Social Distancing

Needless to say, I am having way too much fun with this!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Kind of Art Journal

Dear Liza,

Ruthie Inman has done it again, showing me a new way to make an art journal.

This one starts with an old magazine. Since magazines have really thin, cheap paper, you spread glue (or Mod Podge) and fold each page over on itself to give you a thicker page to work on.


I started with the cover, using a Payne’s Grey craft paint and some silver sparkly paint. Then I slathered craft paint over the pages, making sure to let each one dry before pressing the whole thing flat under a pile of books. This step took a few days.


But what sort of art should be in this journal? At another suggestion from Ruthie, I started using the idea of “The Exquisite Corpse”, a drawing game Cousin Kestrel taught me, to play with a new kind of collage.

Cutting different people, animals and things from magazines, I join them together to make some pretty cool Exquisite Corpse style images.

Is there no end to the nonsense I can get into with art supplies? I sure hope not!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Beyond the Exquisite Corpse

Dear Liza,

I wanted to tell you again about a game called “Exquisite Corpse”, which is not as gruesome as it sounds. Cousin Kestrel first showed it to me about three years ago.

It is a drawing game. You fold a piece of paper into three sections, one above the other. The first player draws the head of a creature, with the neck lines going just slightly below the fold. This gives the second player a place to start. Without looking at what the first player drew, the second adds to the creature. This continues with the third player, who adds the legs, or bottom part.

Auntie Bridgett, Cousin Kestrel and I played it last Friday when she was visiting.

This game is based on a word game invented in the early 1900s by Andre Breton, a surrealist artist in France. In the word game, you add to a story without knowing what it is about. Here, you do it with pictures.

As always, it was fun to draw and fun to see what we created together. I love this dancing-angel-god-thing.

Kes and I did a critter with just two parts, as well, and then there was this Soot Sprite (from “My Friend Totoro”) she drew. These critters were too adorable to throw away, so I made a piece of art with them.


I found a page in my art journal that was just sweeps of blue acrylic, trimmed the Exquisite Corpse drawings, and put them in a scene together.


Here is the story, as far as I have it : A tentacled merboy has discovered a lost baby bird at sea, and takes it to his friend, a confused Soot Sprite who lives on a teeny tiny island. The Soot Sprite isn’t sure what to do with it, but a ballerina-angel-sun god flies overhead and everything turns out okay.

I love that I took a picture game based on a story game, made pictures with it, and then made up a story about them. It’s like a spiral of word/art/word/art that just makes me happy!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art Therapy

Dear Liza,

The other day, I woke up grouchy. There wasn’t really any reason for it, I just had a chip in my shoulder. Art projects I had started weren’t working the way I wanted. A story wasn’t as good as it should be. Nothing felt right.

Grouchy.

After stomping around the house all morning and irritating my lovely people, I went for a walk and stomped around the park. I watched the dogs, listened to the birds, and smelled the rain in the mud. I am glad I did.

When I got home, I didn’t go near the art or writing projects I had wrestled with. Instead, I opened my box of collage papers and just started gluing pieces down.

I know enough to stick with colors that look good together. The first few I chose were red, so I went with that. Watercolor pencils, tissue paper from Pittman and Davis fruit boxes, and a small envelope filled up the bulk of the space.

The circles on the tissue paper were looking good, so I pulled out some circles that I cut from magazines years ago. A watercolor piece I did online with Ruthie Inman got cut out and added. A little bit of black made it better.

I made a weird little dude to hide in the envelope. And after more than an hour of cutting and gluing, I felt better!

Art therapy. It works!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Making a New Kind of Book Part 1

Dear Liza,

This week in our Tuesday Thursday art group we are starting a new kind of book. It is called a Concertina book because it is folded like a Concertina, or accordion.

Ruth Inman, as usual, is our teacher. The supply list for this project was long because it is a multimedia project that includes an old book, fabric, and an endless list of possible collage materials.

First, we separated the hardcover book from its covers with a sharp X-acto blade.

Then, after some careful measuring, we made the Concertina part by gluing pages together and giving them a sharp crease in exactly the right place.

Since this book is going be all black and white, Ruthie showed us ideas for making interesting patterns…

And we let them dry while we chatted about other things to use for patterns.

I used black acrylic paint and the spongy wrappers from our Christmas fruit, cut up meat trays, a carved wine cork, and an old kitchen sponge.


We needed to let the first two-page spread dry before adding any more. I was mostly happy with it, but when it was time for the second two-page spread, I decided to use more black and white, with less grey. You can see how many different ways a black and white page can look!

Spread number 1
Spread number 2 (for now)

I like it, but there will be lots more added before it is all done. I will show you the finished product…um…. when it is finished! So there.

Love,

Grandma Judy

… More Art with Ruthie!

Dear Liza,

It feels like forever since I have gotten to get online with my friend Ruth Inman and my fellow artsy students. I have really missed it!

And Thursday, we made some adorable snowmen. Ruth found the original at the blog Adventures in Fiber, by artist Paulette Insall, at carpaulette.blogspot.nl. I decided to photograph the process in case I wanted to do it again. I’m glad I did, because I would never remember all the bits.

First, we laid down letters. I used different sized stencils and waterproof Sharpie and Micron Pens. I wanted to play with pinks and blues in the snow, so I collaged some printed paper. Some text torn from a Mad Libs tablet gave it a nice full bottom layer.

The next step was to add some color. I added just a few watercolor brush strokes of pink and blue.

Of course, in collage, things change once you lay them down. Since part of the charm of this piece is seeing through the layers, I put some some white acrylic on with crumpled saran wrap, to soften the colors and create a nice blizzard effect. It took several layers before I liked the way it looked.

Then it was time for a tree. A nice, curvy tree… Ruth recommended finding a suitable curve in a magazine, and I did! It was a bit too light, but that’s what Sharpies are for. A little trimming and gluing and I had my tree. I sponged a bit more white on, to keep it in the blizzard.

I used watercolors for the decorations for the tree, though Ruth had a lot of fun hunting up the right colors in a magazine. The snowman was next, drawn with a Micron, with text in his tummy and a collaged magazine paper hat. I added some black Micron dots and white Posca dots for the edge of the hat.

I used a thin Micron for his face, and orange watercolor pencil for his nose. A little heart from the same paper as his hat put on the final touch!

As I have said before, collage is very freeing. You glue and sponge and add until it looks like you want. You can’t really mess it up…. if you don’t like it, you’re just not done yet. Add more, paint over bits you don’t like, let it dry and start again.

And above all, have fun!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Following Along

Dear Liza,

Since I have been learning about following where the art leads, I decided to do an experiment. Last week while I was playing with some orange acrylic, I had a big smear of paint left over on the tray. Rather than wash it away, I brushed some on to a textured meat tray and laid down a layer on an empty page.

I had no idea what it would be. I just put it down and went on to other things. The next day I looked, turned the pages in different directions, and looked some more. I saw this slight diagonal line where the two printings overlapped, and it reminded me of the brim of a smartly-worn top hat. So I took my nice fat micron pen and drew in a hat, then a face, and some hair. She reminded me a little of Josephine Baker.

I didn’t know what would come next. I made some more cookies, did a bunch of laundry, and went for a few walks around the neighborhood. I looked at the picture before I went to bed that night, and in the morning I knew how I wanted to go forward.

Collage of circles seemed a fine way to progress, but I wanted to be more precise this time, trimming the bits to fit. The top part of the hat, filled in with the patterns from inside security envelopes, took an hour, but I was happy with it.

I walked away, came back, and did the brim all in one piece, and then the hair, with the swirly pattern found on the inside of Yogi tea boxes. It is soft but curvy and just what I wanted.

I was just about done for the day. Dinner was calling. But from my collection box of papers shone a piece of foil that the Pittman and Davis Company uses to wrap their pears. Et voila. Hat done.

I let the piece sit for a few days, not sure what I wanted it to look like. I knew it should have a deep blue background, both to set off the orange and gold, and to look like night time. Straight blue acrylic paint out of the tube was exactly right. I put in just a bit of blue shading on the hat, and I am pretty happy with it.

It is weird, but that’s just about right. It just shows that you never know where the art will lead.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Beyond Circles

Dear Liza,

When I was starting to paint this year, my goal was to make something look like I wanted, making the picture on the paper match the one in my head. I practiced with flowers and faces, going literally from finger painting to things that mostly looked… right.

Flowers that look like flowers

And now that I can do that, I am experimenting more. The circle cutter Auntie Bridgett loaned me has been my latest toy. I love circles, and am enjoying grouping them together, layering them, and even painting over them.

This week I started with some orange and blue watercolor, then lay down some softly colored circles. It sort of looked like sunset-y clouds. To make it look even cloudier, I put white acrylic paint on very softly with a textured meat tray. It was pretty, but what if…..?

I wanted to keep going with the layers. This is where I am noticing my change in attitude. Instead of thinking “what if I mess this up?”, I realize that so far I have invested a few hours of quarantine time, some old magazines, and a tablespoon of paint. So if I mess it up, NO BIG DEAL.

So I lay on another meat tray textured layer of blue, then a few more circles. I loved the layers and texture, and it was starting to whisper to me as to what it could be. Instead of making the picture in my head first, I was letting it lead me along.

I softened the colors with a bit of white acrylic and added a “hillside”of white tissue paper. The pink circle was in the right place to be a setting sun, but it needed to be more orange. A circle cut from a tea box fixed that.

After staring at what had become a snowy hillside at sunset, I saw that it needed some silhouetted trees. I studied other folks’s work and Auntie Bridgett gave me some pointers, and I went for it. After putting in some close up trees and some further away, adjusting my sky color and putting in some shadows, I am pretty happy with it….. for now. I’ll go do something else and have a look later.

So I guess my lesson of the week is to not limit myself as to “just” the pictures I see in my head. The ones that emerge on the paper can be so much more!

Love,

Grandma Judy