Archive for the '1) Buy these!' Category

As We Knew It

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

 

As We Knew It
collage miniature on book cover by J A Dixon
5.5 x 8.5 inches
available for purchase

Shobiz Comix

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

 

Shobiz Comix
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.25 x 7.875 inches
 
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Circadian Tortuga

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

“The sage
     dwells in affairs of nonaction,
     carries out a doctrine without words.
He lets the myriad of creatures rise up
     but does not instigate them;
He acts
     but does not presume;
He completes his work
     but does not dwell on it.
Now,
     Simply because he does not dwell on them,
          his accomplishments never leave him.”
— Lao Tzu
 

There are many outstanding collage artists who have a trademark “style,” and I can immediately identify a piece as theirs prior to confirmation. I have no idea if people familiar with contemporary collage recognize a work as mine before they see a signature or attribution. To have cultivated a personal “voice” as an artist, no matter what the genre, and to have dug deeply into a single plot rich with ore is a good thing, and I admire those who have done it. I suspect that the description doesn’t apply to me — although I honestly don’t know — and I’d leave a more objective evaluation to others. I could accept that I’m wandering a hundred-year-old frontier, sometimes venturing into lawless terrain, and, as often as not, frequenting the established settlements, helping myself to the comforts of civilization. Or perhaps I just took a job in the collage mine.

Do I ruminate on such things only because I’m blogging instead of working in the studio? It brings to mind Robert Hughes, who described the history of art as being “like the scramble for Africa.” He wrote that “a few pioneers stumble on unexploited territory and stake it out, often forgetting to register their claims. Then the dealers arrive, and the collectors, carving up the area, reducing it to mining ground, a tangle of jumped claims and abandoned shafts, patrolled by trigger-happy art historians.”

I get more new ideas than I can possibly explore. Sometimes, when I fill a page with them, it occurs to me that the time would be better spent actually working instead of creating thumbnail notes for addition to my “to-do” list. The daily habit of confronting a challenging workload is probably a better source of what to do next than an isolated mental concept. To work and not dwell on it, to rest and then resume work, is undoubtedly the more rewarding road to deeper accomplishment. One can tell the difference between an artistic “look” that was intellectually contrived and one that grew organically from a work ethic. It is much like the process of collage itself. Spontaneous visual juxtapositions that could not possibly have been preconceived are generally more interesting and memorable than those that were “thought up” and then executed.
 

Circadian Tortuga
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
22 x 16 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

Suzy Staccato

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

 

Suzy Staccato
collage on book cover by J A Dixon
6.25 x 8.125 inches
 
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Cursed Machine

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

 

Cursed Machine
collage miniature by J A Dixon
8.25 x 8.75 inches
available for purchase

Leaning on the Sky

Monday, January 28th, 2019

“He had a strong sense of his life being upon the turn, between two seasons, as it were, with the certainties of the one no longer valid for the other. He was not a fanciful man, but for some time now he had had an indefinable sense of chaos following order, of impending disaster; and it oppressed his mind.”
— the thoughts of Captain J Aubrey
   Treason’s Harbour by Patrick O’Brian

It’s been nearly a year since my 21-novel Patrick O’Brian binge came to a close, and I’m wondering if I shall ever again make decent nautical-themed art without beginning the entire Aubrey-Maturin series anew.
 

Leaning on the Sky
collage on book cover by J A Dixon
8 x 10.5 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

the uncanny path . . .

Monday, January 14th, 2019

“What more can we ask than to never know what to expect?”
— Paul Violi
 

The opening reception for the annual New Year New Art exhibition at our Community Arts Center was a massive success. Collage artist Connie Beale had a superb artwork on display, but she managed to slip out before we could include her in a group picture. So, we asked the ever-helpful Kate Snyder to grab a shot of “three collage dudes,” back in the corner where Robert Hugh Hunt was showing a new addition to his “20th Century Icons” series — President Jimmy Carter. I was delighted to see included within the mixed-media portrait a collection of Jimmy heads that I’d surrendered to Robert earlier in the year. Strategic Quake ~ collage on stretched fabric by J A DixonStrangely enough, the envelope had been lurking in my stash for decades, after the faces were clipped from newspapers during the Carter presidency. It can take a while for certain elements to find their destination, on the uncanny path toward a collage outcome.

My Harmonic Squall was hanging nearby. As these things often play out, I was a bit more pleased with the piece each time I saw it. The residual sense of heightened criticism was continuing to wear off. One certainly doesn’t want the effect to move in an opposite progression. It makes me think of the companion artwork that just as easily could have been part of the exhibition — an extreme vertical that I called Strategic Quake. Both were the result of an evolved process that I touched on in last week’s entry. I’ve been meaning to post the one that wasn’t selected, too (above), along with an image detail (below, for a zoomed-in look). “Spatial manipulation, a unified color scheme, and compositional balance” might be a good way to describe the goals I’ve set for a collage abstraction. It needs to look strong from a distance, with the ingredients becoming the “brushstrokes” that provide visual interest at a closer viewing distance.
 


 

Strategic Quake (detail) ~ collage on stretched fabric by J A Dixon

Strategic Quake (detail)
collage on fabric by J A Dixon
12.5 x 28.25 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

new year, new art, new approach

Monday, January 7th, 2019

“The most interesting paradox of creativity: in order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful; it’s only after you let go of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts.”
— Twyla Tharp

“You take what you know, you take things you are comfortable with, and you throw them into a situation of new things, of things you are uncomfortable with, and, all of a sudden, new connections happen. And then your goal as a creative must be: of having the skill to carry it home without breaking it.”
— Christoph Niemann
 

Brandon Long is making a name for himself as an assemblage artist in Kentucky. He manages to juggle this with being a blogger, an active volunteer, and his full-time role as an outstanding family man. On top of that, he holds down a challenging, “multi-hat” position at our local Community Arts Center. This past autumn, his request to exhibit at their annual winter invitational arrived like clockwork: show the public an entirely new work, no jury evaluation, just put something at the leading edge of your creativity on display. There can’t be a single regional artist receiving that call who doesn’t value it as a rare opportunity.

I’d been thinking for much of last year about another immersion into larger works — not always a comfort zone for a self-described “miniaturist.” Add to that several months of recovery from a knee injury which limited my standing time. I reckoned I was overdue for a boost in the scale of my studio work. When it came time to plunge in, I realized it also was the perfect chance to reassess my current methodology. I wanted to explore a way of developing an abstract composition that was different for me. Could I combine and balance both a rational and non-rational process? By now, I had more than a decent foundation in each, but had never fused them in as mindful a manner as I considered possible. It didn’t turn out to be complicated at all, and yet it was a new approach for me, after more than twelve years as a dedicated collage practitioner.

Deciding to make three works at horizontal, vertical, and square proportions, I began with thumbnail concepts in my journal, moving from tiny doodles, to color sketches, and from there to rough collage miniatures. The activity was deliberate, but I tried to hold it at an intuitive level. After that, I moved to the typical task of preparing the “stretchers,” although nothing would be fabricated from scratch. I found a nearly fifty-year-old, unpainted canvas in remarkable shape. I stretched Pellon® fabric over a discarded picture frame. I paid almost nothing at a flea market for a castoff “student-esque” painting that needed some reinforcement, its canvas re-stretched, plus lots of primer. After sorting categories of available paper scrap into flat boxes, I was ready to explode into routine sessions of Merz assembly, with an occasional reference back to my preliminary ideas. When probing to the heart of intuition like this, a collage artist stumbles upon strange dynamics. For instance, there are times when you’ll ignore an emotion that says “this doesn’t belong,” only to press on and discover that it totally “works” with the next layering of ingredients. Perhaps this is more characteristic of collage maximalism than collage minimalism. I would accept that fully, but it’s fascinating to remain aware of the “joust” between whether to trust feelings or trust pure impulse, and to discern the difference. Finally, there came a point when I introduced the hard evaluation of a visual critique, before finishing with intentional refinements — and even that final stage allows for spontaneity.

It’s not always easy to know when a piece is done, and maybe it never really is. Eventually, an artist has to claim victory and sign the damn thing. I ended up delivering two works to the Center for the “New Year New Art” show, and let Brandon pick one that fit best. It was the square, the one I called Harmonic Squall.

Please give these four details your scrutiny. Let me know what you think, and, if you find yourself in the area, attend our opening reception this Friday evening. It’s always the first good party after New Year’s Eve!
 

Harmonic Squall (detail) ~ collage on canvas by J A Dixon     Harmonic Squall (detail) ~ collage on canvas by J A Dixon

Harmonic Squall (detail) ~ collage on canvas by J A Dixon     Harmonic Squall (detail) ~ collage on canvas by J A Dixon

four
details
from
Harmonic
Squall

Harmonic Squall ~ collage on recycled canvas by J A Dixon

Harmonic Squall
collage on recycled canvas by J A Dixon
26 x 26 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

a timely ‘Cup of Kindness’ to all . . .

Monday, December 31st, 2018

 

Keeps On Slippin
collage artwork by J A Dixon
10 x 13.5 inches
available for purchase

Modern Use

Monday, December 17th, 2018

“As long as movements require our attention they are kata (form), when the kata become spontaneous they become waza (technique). As long as we persist in viewing kata superficially, we will begin to think that they are of special importance.”
— Yushio Kuroiwa
 

When explaining aikido, the late martial artist Yushio Kuroiwa taught the practice of rational movement, so that one could spontaneously execute a natural movement as a result. For me, this idea has a distinct parallel to the art of collage, which is based on repetitive experimentation. With study and discernment, the collage artist can discriminate the difference between a superficial composition that was contrived with too much self attention, and an intuitive composition that developed more naturally — an expression of synchronicity — that grew from understanding the essence of creativity.

Kuroiwa encouraged his students to not blindly follow masterful forerunners, but to observe and discover their “causes, effects, and processes of things, and their similarities and differences through experience.” He pointed out that “someone with poor handwriting cannot write beautifully, even when using a good pen. A skilled calligrapher, however, can write beautifully even when using an inexpensive pen. It is not that the pen is good, but rather that the writer’s ability, as a result of long experience, is excellent.”

It is beneficial to keep in mind that even though we are “working artists,” much of our “work” is not significant in and of itself as an artistic product, especially if it is merely a conscious application of formulae largely exhausted decades ago during the formative years of our medium as a modern art. Instead, maintain your drill, your ritual of formation, not to yield marketable artifacts, but to internalize an “organic” process that leads to a rewarding sense — that we have freely expressed the natural ability to create something with real spontaneity.

Thanks for visiting. Now, let’s go make more art . . .
 
Modern Use ~ collage miniature by John Andrew Dixon ~ Danville, Kentucky ~ Kentucky Crafted Mixed Media Artist

Modern Use
collage experiment in monochrome by J A Dixon
8.375 x 11 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

New note cards for the season!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

If you send hand-written messages during the year-end season, you may want some new note cards that feature collage artworks from my series of Christmas-tree greetings. Each large, blank card is 5.125 x 7.75 inches and is folded along the left vertical edge. Matching envelopes are included, of course.

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 vertical-format cards ~ 5 cards, 1 each of 5 ~ $27.50
     larger note cards that feature collage artworks from
     my series of handmade Christmas-tree greetings

 

 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Preview each distinctive
seasonal note card