Annual Open Studios ARTTOUR

October 19th, 2014

Be sure to stop by the studio if you’re in our neck of the woods during the first weekend of November!

Annual Open Studios ARTTOUR

Arbitrary Mischief

October 5th, 2014

“As we mature, all of us learn to ‘put away childish things.’ Often, though, we do such a good job of growing up that we lose contact with our spontaneity, teaching ourselves to follow rules and habits that inhibit us from acting on our hunches and intuition.”
— W. Clement Stone

One of my earliest entries at this site made mention of the intuitive response in our process of collage creation. I have continued to ponder this idea of making visual decisions without conscious thought, especially after a lengthy discussion at the Collage Critique group in the facebook realm. There is something to be said for intuitive spontaneity with no preconceived notions, in contrast to the methodical execution of a concept. Collage as a medium is diverse enough to embody both approaches and everything in between. In my opinion, there is ample “non-thought thinking” taking place, even when no “idea” is driving the process. On the other hand, most of us can tell when a piece is struggling to be more than a mere stew of ingredients and the temptation to declare it “finished” should be resisted.

Personally, it is no longer possible for me to imagine coming to this activity without the foundation of art education, a rigorous training in graphic design, and 40 years of practice as a creative professional. I suspect that I have internalized all this to become part of an inner resource, so that when, at the conscious level, I put all of it out of mind, it still informs each spontaneous visual choice and the sense of something appearing “right” to the eye. Deciding that “an ingredient in play” has the right color, the right value, the right shape, the right texture, or the right spatial role often happens without rational awareness. That is my goal, at any rate, to keep such “non-thinking thought” in motion for as long as possible before I find myself falling back into outer rumination. It is not only a matter of aesthetics. The same phenomenon applies to thematic or symbolic associations, and the overall process of ingredient acquisition and selection that initiates and sustains the whole affair. Not that there is anything undesirable or distasteful about planning, calculation, and a deliberate methodology. Far from it. Nearly every work of art will involve some of that. It just happens to be that what I am most hoping to take place is something else — that the flow of assembly leading to a stimulating but balanced effect is the result of an artistic intention deeper than conscious decision making.
 

hand-crafted collage by John Andrew Dixon, The Collage Miniaturist

Arbitrary Mischief
collage miniature by J A Dixon
8 x 10 inches
available for purchase

Connections that transcend limitations . . .

September 23rd, 2014

“I don’t know the English language. This message is written with an electronic program of translation. I hope that it is comprehensible.”
— Lucio Valerio Pini, Rome, Italy

In a moment of exuberance, I made the following comment on a social network: “Collage has become a universal human language that transcends other cultural and semantic limitations.”

Some who saw it may not have fully agreed. At least one person shared the opinion that my statement “sounds like hyperbole.” Perhaps. Nevertheless, if one looks with care at what I wrote, there is nothing inaccurate or misleading about it (Would this not be true about almost any art form, whether it be sculpture, music, or dance?), and I have no better way to explain my ongoing weekly “conversation” with hundreds of collage artists worldwide whose other languages I cannot read.

As if to illustrate my proposition, I received a message and some bold images from an Italian artist making a connection beyond our mutual language barrier. I do not know anything about his age, experience, or circumstances, but my sudden awareness of his dynamic work exemplifies an exciting international cross-pollination taking place among current practitioners of collage.

Continue to refine your artistic voice, Lucio, and keep reaching out to those of us who value, in the words of Kurt Schwitters, “creating relationships, preferably between all things in the world.”
 

Con il permesso di Tadini
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

Con il permesso di Tamara
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

Col Van Heusen
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

Come Pop Art
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

Con il permesso di Klimt
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

CITT
collage by Lucio Valerio Pini

September 17th, 2014

 

 
I am pleased to announce that we shall open our studio and gallery to the public on the first weekend of November. For more information, please visit this page.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy 32!

September 11th, 2014

Celebrating 32 years of laughter, friendship, professional partnership, creative adventure, shared sorrow, deep affection, and mutual respect. Thank you, Dana, for the total package. (I think this might be working out.)
 

Happy 32!
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.875 x 4.5 inches
collection of D L Dixon

Recipe for enjoyment

September 4th, 2014

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”
— Carl Jung

The distinctive singularity of an individual has been a profound feature of my awareness throughout life. Undoubtedly, it is the basis for much of what I have enjoyed doing most — from solving visual problems for unique entrepreneurs, or creating my own brand of illustrated portraits, and, of course, hand-crafting greeting cards with collage miniatures. I shall never tire of assembling a spontaneous composition with suitable ingredients to honor a particular person. Each collage, like every human being, is a one-of-a-kind creation, and the medium is ideal for personalized expressions. The artist has a remarkable opportunity to interpret the peculiar constellation of personality traits, proclivities, and associations that befit a fellow mortal. To put it simply: I love it!
 

Dwindling Nest
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of J Hellyer

Counting Cards

August 28th, 2014

 

Counting Cards
collage miniature by J A Dixon
3.5 x 5.25 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!

Still more from the Haus . . .

August 21st, 2014

“Giving gifts to others is a fundamental activity, as old as humanity itself. Yet in the modern, complex world, the particulars of gift-giving can be extraordinarily challenging.”
― Andrew Weil

For good or ill, I have reduced gift-giving to a flagrant simplicity: the personal collage miniature, disguised as a greeting card. I adopted the practice long ago and, so far, I seem to be getting away with it.

 

Pool Partied
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of B Morris

Pancreation
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of M J Bowling

Buddhas and Hunks
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of M Higggins

SuperTim
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of T Rice

To the rule breakers . . .

August 14th, 2014

“Individualism is rather like innocence; there must be something unconscious about it.”
— Louis Kronenberger

I often look back on the image of a personal miniature, long released into the intended realm of a friend, and I have no recollection of the process it underwent, but only a strong sense of the personality who inspired it. This is how it should be. I tend to be dubious of any artworks which retain too much of my methodology in their finished state. Calculation and contrivance are somehow out of place in a collage, but, of course, there are glorious exceptions to every rule. This also is how it should be.
 

Untitled (for Irina)
collage miniature by J A Dixon
estate of Irina Ilina

uncommon kindness . . .

August 7th, 2014

An artist can anticipate nothing more gratifying than to form a sincere connection to another — someone who will discover satisfaction or meaning in one’s creation. As many collage practitioners already know, it is not a frequent experience for those of us who cannot bring ourselves to pander. It is more irregular to find a buyer who wants to live with an artwork. And beyond the satisfaction of a sale, there are those uncommon times when a corresponding creative act takes place in response, and one is the recipient of a profound kindness.

An Art Form Called Collage
by Patty Seitz

Images placed upon a blank paper just so
Or perhaps they were just placed
With no particular pattern in mind
The story emerging on its own
Developing as each image is carefully cut
Then positioned by the artist
By themselves they speak one message
Placed together they speak another
The dictionary says these are
“Various materials not normally associated with one another”
But when we see them together
Their association seems to have existed for a life time
And they bond as if they will never be apart again
Together they speak one language
Using each individual voice to create a harmony
That is most pleasing to the eye

 

Silk Road Triumphant
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.5 x 8 inches
collection of P B Seitz

All Things Collage: Year Two

July 31st, 2014

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
— Mark Twain

“Take what you can,
All you can carry.
Take what you can,
And leave your thoughts behind.”
— Tom Petty

“If everything you do must be measured against the good opinion of everyone else, what happens to your good opinion of yourself?”
— Wayne W Dyer

Hmmm . . . just realized that my line-up of quotations above might seem odd to some of you. At any rate, they capture a bit of what is on my mind, as I begin to reflect on a couple years of remarks about collage at this blogsite.

Mombo_MotherOfTheArtistLike many others, I spend prayerful time caring for a parent with progressive dementia. The other day I was trying to explain to my mother, in terms she could appreciate, my burning desire to make collage artwork, and, touching on her prevailing sense of confusion, talked about my creative activity as a way to bring some kind of harmony out of the chaotic stream of disorder that dominates so much of current stimuli in our daily lives. It brought to my awareness the motivation at the center of what I love to do, but also fell short of the clarity for which I was reaching. Over the next year, I hope to find better words which get to the heart of that idea — how I take what I can carry into a process that leaves thoughts behind, a kind of sweet madness that offers explanations difficult for me to achieve any other way. Of course, this is not the only approach to the medium. I hope to profile more collage artists who use a different methodology than my own — the extraordinary minimalists, the dedicated aestheticians, and those who continue to harness a kind of thoughtful irrationality that keeps me in awe.

I just looked over my previous comments after a full year of blogging, and, as a result, I feel the need to temper my ambitions going into year three, but that is not my nature. There are too many interesting things to explore in the dynamic world of contemporary collage. One of them is the continued explosion of collaboration. Another is the influence of social networks. Nearly every day I see an artist defeat the purpose of the platform with overexposure, failing to keep the age-old quality-vs-quantity issue in balance. One of my goals for the coming year is to take a closer look at how the ease of internet sharing affects the challenge of striking an equilibrium between the imperative to follow one’s passion without regard for opinion and the practical aspects of seeking recognition and approval from others. As most of you already know, it is not an easy task to walk that tightrope.

And one more thing, dear visitor. Please let me know what I can do to make this site more interactive as a unique forum for discussion. Meanwhile, you can count on me to observe, write, and make more art. Stop back again!
 

Untitled (flutter)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
9 x 11 inches
not for sale