Empress of Wings — When is the flight over?

January 8th, 2017

“I tell you what gets harder over the years, it’s coming to grips with ‘is it finished yet or do I want to make one more change?’”
– Burton Cummings

Being invited by our Community Arts Center to participate in the annual winter invitational of regional artists never fails to jump-start my burst of year-end activity. Submissions to the January-to-February show are required to have been completed after August. The request comes in late October, but, instead of selecting from completed works, I’ll typically commence a work specific to the exhibition in early November. I set a goal this time to produce my largest collage ever and to shoot some in-progress photos.

The first image below indicates how I blocked out the early composition with mostly larger elements. The second represents how the color-quantity contrasts and spatial manipulations resolved themselves. The last image is the finished work with final layering and a few closing refinements.

It is a challenge to maintain a high degree of spontaneity when creating so large a work (for me, the dedicated miniaturist). It helps to carry a momentum of small-scale experimentation into the process, plus there are things I do to boost an “organic” flow. For example, if there are aspects of the color scheme I want to enhance, rather than acquire and position new elements one by one and invite too much preoccupation with each, I will quickly prepare a batch of ingredients and place them into the composition as rapidly and as intuitively as possible, responding to my impression of the evolving totality. Instead of pondering two-dimensional locations, the eye or hand moves first, and one learns to trust whether something “belongs” or not. Also, it can be difficult to know when the winding down to conclusion should start. At a certain point, I become conscious of a natural progression toward closing refinements (more logical considerations for balancing and harmonizing the overall effect). Noticing an escalation of rational deliberation can be the reliable signal that a piece may nearly be done — almost time to “pull the plug and sign it.”

We are unlikely to hear any collage artist say that completing a work is an exact science. Personally, if I walk away from something that I suspect is finished, it is less probable that I will continue to monkey with it when I come back. It is beneficial to have an objective consultant — in my case, a trusted partner willing to instruct, “Don’t touch it!”

I also should note that the exhibition is an opportunity for Robert Hugh Hunt and me to unveil another major collaboration (more to say about that next time). Creating the interlocking mixed-media construction was an interesting process. The result is something unconventional, and we’re pleased that it was selected as the promotional image for the show.
 

 
 
an early and a late
stage of my largest
collage painting to date
 
(click each to view larger)

 
 
 

Empress of Wings ~ John Andrew Dixon

Empress of Wings
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
42.25 x 30.375 inches
available for purchase

Transfigured

January 1st, 2017

“Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head.”
—Edward Ruscha

I think it is good to start a fresh cycle with something that perplexes me. Will anyone else think that this is art? Does the irrepressible creative urge need to take matters into its own hands now and then? Or am I merely illustrating an untold story from my rambunctious imagination?

Happy New Year!
 
Transfigured ~ a collage miniature on book cover by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky

Transfigured
collage miniature on book cover by J A Dixon
7.25 x 9.5 inches
available for purchase

Robykana

December 28th, 2016

“Art is worthless unless it plants a measure of
splendor in people’s hearts.”
—Taha Muhammad Ali

There are few creative pastimes more fulfilling than directing one’s practice into a personal gift of art. Robykana, a collage on panel, is a housewarming present for two of our most hospitable of friends. Its title derives from the name of their new dwelling, perched upon a Kentucky River overlook with, at best, only a handful of rivals in the Bluegrass. It is the kind of sanctuary many would keep to themselves, but our friends take quite the opposite approach. My grateful response can only be to create a composition packed with private references, symbolic meanings, and secret allusions. Needless to say, a collage artist will use the process as an opportunity for intuitive spontaneity and the working out of ongoing aesthetic considerations. Without fail, this kind of intimate enterprise gives rise to ideas for new investigations, and, happily, it becomes a gift to myself as well.

Robykana ~ J A Dixon

Robykana
collage on panel by J A Dixon
23 x 17 inches
collection of S & R Hempel

Christmas Collage Experiments

December 25th, 2016

“Time is so sneaky…don’t let it fool you into saying silly things. Your time here is yours…treasure it and enjoy it. It doesn’t ‘move’…it merely ‘exists’…period.”
—Burton Cummings

I was thinking that the holiday season had gotten away from me, and that I had not had enough time to make the many hand-crafted things that usually capture my interest and comprise my gift giving. And then I saw a Christmas Eve comment from the incomparable Burton, who has a superlative knack for putting universal thoughts into words. The whole “ain’t got no time” notion dissolved and I realized, once again, that there’s always enough time for what’s important.

Wishing the joy of Christmas to all . . .
 

collage experiment by John Andrew Dixon

Untitled (nativity with serpent)
a Christmas collage experiment by J A Dixon
collection of C D Darst

collage experiment by John Andrew Dixon

Untitled (nativity with thorns)
a Christmas collage experiment by J A Dixon
collection of P B Seitz

collage experiment by John Andrew Dixon

Untitled (nativity with cherubim)
a Christmas collage experiment by J A Dixon
collection of K Simpson

Continuing a series . . .

December 23rd, 2016

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.”
— Henri Poincaré

December is the time of year for making hand-crafted holiday cards. By and by, I return to variations on the theme of a Christmas tree. Perhaps some of the collage miniatures are more “successful” than others, but the point of this ritual (other than sharing joy with dear ones, of course) is granting free rein to an intuitive response. Exercising this capacity is at the heart of collage as a medium. How important it is to give the imagination a blank check and invest no concern in the lack of a preconceived approach! Choosing a simple pictorial theme conveniently jump-starts an experimental process. What follows is pure discovery.
 

29 collage greeting
cards by J A Dixon

variations on a
Christmas theme
2001 – 2016

Vertical note cards now available

December 16th, 2016

At our studio gallery, a surreal lady is my most popular note card, and now you can purchase cards with Pulcinella’s Secret as a packet of five or as part of a set of assorted cards. A set of five vertical note cards contains one each of five cards, with Pulcinella’s Secret, plus details from Structural Integrity, Fallen Body, Mystery Solved, and Pearallelograms. Larger than a typical note card, each blank card is 5.125 x 7.75 inches and is folded along the left edge. Envelopes are included.

Click below to buy with your PayPal account or a credit card.
No extra charge for shipping, handling, or state taxes within the USA.
International customers, please contact me directly.

Thank you!

 

Pulcinella’s Secret cards ~ 5 cards, 5 each of 1 ~ $25

Assorted vertical-format cards ~ 5 cards, 1 each of 5 ~ $25

 

 

Preview each distinctive collage note card —






 

Horizontal note cards now available

December 15th, 2016

Everything I create is rooted in my investigations of the small format, and now you can purchase note cards derived from some of these collage artworks. A set of eight horizontal note cards contains two each of four assorted cards, with details from Structural Integrity, Selective Fusion, Contemplation Ajar, and Mystery Solved. Larger than a typical note card, each blank card is 7.75 x 5.125 inches and is folded along the top edge. Envelopes are included.

Click below to buy with your PayPal account or a credit card.
No extra charge for shipping, handling, or state taxes within the USA.
International customers, please contact me directly.

Thank you!

 

Assorted horizontal-format cards ~ 8 cards, 2 each of 4 ~ $40

 

 
 

Preview each distinctive collage note card —





 

Diamonds in 2017

December 9th, 2016

Just learned that my Diamonds in the Rough will be included in a new exhibition next year at Eastern Kentucky University. This piece was created four years ago and has traveled as far as Cincinnati in its mighty quest to find someone other than me who wants to live with it and to puzzle out its visual secrets. As details about the show come into focus, stop in again to find out more. Thanks again for your continued interest!
 
Diamonds in the Rough ~ a collage construction by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky

Diamonds in the Rough
collage construction by J A Dixon
36 x 36 inches
currently on consignment

That dreaded Artist Tongue

December 2nd, 2016

“Somehow the language used for describing and discussing art has a reputation for unusual opacity, even sadism.”
– Robert Atkins

Someone recently remarked that my description of collage as an intuitive phenomenon sounds like “artspeak.” I know what she meant — confusing, overblown prose that tends to alienate the “uninitiated.” She may have had a point, although I would hope that there is a difference between jargon meant to exclude those who don’t speak the often-elitist language of contemporary art, and an honest attempt to write about something that is difficult to articulate (because, in essense, it is a non-verbal, non-rational process). If I fall prey to obscuring that distinction at The Collage Miniaturist, please call me on it. I can take it.

dixon_untitledindustry

Untitled (INDUSTRY)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
8 x 12 inches
not for sale

ARTTOUR Open Studios

November 6th, 2016

Today is the final day of our annual weekend ARTTOUR in Central Kentucky. If you’re in the area, please visit the website and discover our destination. Look for the canopy above the Dixon Design entrance and come right up to our gallery!

dixon_canopy_2016

Dada Centennial Exhibition to open in Santa Fe

October 21st, 2016

As part of the celebratory observation of the Dada Centennial organized by Cecil Touchon, I picked three of my experiments from earlier in the year (March 6thMarch 7thMarch 21st) to refine and submit to the Int’l Museum of Collage, Assemblage & Construction. Sure wish I was a bit closer to New Mexico.
 

Dada 100 (SCORE 20) ~ J A Dixon

Dada 100 (SCORE 20)
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4 x 5 inches
permanent collection of the Ontological Museum

Dada 100 (URGER HEESE BURG) ~ J A Dixon

Dada 100 (URGER HEESE BURG)
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4 x 5 inches
permanent collection of the Ontological Museum

dixon_dadajuliejudy

Dada 100 (Julie and Judy)
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4 x 5 inches
permanent collection of the Ontological Museum