Archive for the 'Demonstrations' Category

Sixth Chapter: A virtual field trip for youngsters . . .

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

 

 
“You can decide that you want your art to be very close, exacting, and faithful to the scene, or you can just let nature charge your imagination, and you just go from there.”
from our video “ridealong”
 

It turned out to be one of the more memorable days of the summer — not just another opportunity to take my collage making to a natural place, but a collaborative effort with my friend Brandon Long from Art Center of the Bluegrass. Responding to the new demands of the era, he was in the middle of organizing a virtual field trip to dovetail with our annual En Plein Air exhibition. He wants to encourage youngsters to create collage artwork out of doors, so he asked me if I would be the subject of a short video. Our local PAACK had already scheduled an event at Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, but, with the likelihood of rain, the gathering had been postponed earlier that morning. Brandon and I felt lucky, and we pushed ahead with the outing anyway. We were successful in avoiding the poison ivy and pulling off our little production at the edge of Island Pond. Not much later, a thunderstorm sent me skedaddling beneath a nearby shelter. Somehow, I came away with a good start on a miniature that I could finish in the studio. My goal has always been to spend less time with the indoor follow-up than I spend on location. Sometimes it happens, but usually I need a 50/50 time ratio between site and studio to bring something to a satisfactory resolution. There are artists who would not consider that a legitimate plein-air solution. It’s a standard limitation that we use for our Central Kentucky group. At any rate, I find the entire process to be personally rewarding. If I keep doing this, I think that basically I’ll get to where I can complete something in the field. Meanwhile, the challenge is to “paint with paper,” capturing the essence of a viewscape on site, and then to avoid messing that up with my finishing touches.

Creating Collage “En Plein Air”

 

Before a Storm
plein air collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.5 x 7.8125 inches
available for purchase

Local Art-A-Thon successfully concludes

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

I am convinced that supporting the arts makes for a more livable community, and calls for generosity, so I took part in the local Community Arts Center’s Art-A-Thon campaign this spring.Art-A-Thon ~ Danville, Kentucky The CAC funds summer art-camps for young people, plus many worthwhile programs to nurture personal creativity in every segment of a diverse community. As part of the Art-A-Thon, I demonstrated my technique during a full day of arts activities in downtown Danville, working on collage miniatures and putting the finishing touches on my contribution to the Art-full Affair (the other big fundraising event this month, sponsored by the Arts Commission of Danville / Boyle County). More thoughts to come about To Peach Is Owed, my newest collage on structured panel.

My sincere “thank you” to everyone who helped me reach my Art-A-Thon goal. Your generosity is an inspiration! The last time I looked, the Arts Center had exceeded its target by nearly 50%, and my “team” landed in seventh place with $526 raised. Special appreciation to Katie Blake, who sent a generous donation all the way from Alaska!

I kept my nose to the collage grindstone all afternoon
at the local
Art-A-Thon event on Saturday, May 13th,
and put some final touches on To Peach Is Owed, my
donation to the Art-full Affair drawing for art scholarships.
(photo by Kendra Peek)

There I Was

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

“He spread flour and water over the paper, then moved and shuffled and manipulated his scraps of paper around in the paste…. Finally, he removed the excess paste with a damp rag, leaving some like an overglaze in places where he wanted to veil or mute a part of the color.”
— Charlotte Weidler

It has been more than a year since I had the humbling opportunity to study dozens of Kurt Schwitters originals at the Berkeley Art Museum. I read the description by the art historian Charlotte Weidler that same day, but I only recently decided to experiment with the paste method she observed. I have always worked with a variety of adhesives, and I often combine more than one in a single collage, never hesitating to literally mix them together (white glue + acrylic varnish, for example). I was impressed with how good some of Kurt’s compositions had held together after 70 to 80 years. I dug out a small package of paper-hanger’s wheat paste acquired in the 1970s, with the new intention of using it to produce a collage on canvas that would stand on its own as an object when finished. Although I expected to coat the final surface later with gel medium, for my first piece based on using the same adhesive as the pioneering artist, I was mainly interested in how wheat paste would affect my process.

The artwork is undone, but I share one of my separate experiments below. I could not be more pleased with the results of this approach. The paste dries slowly. This allows for repositioning, easy removal of excess, and it cures to a flat, velvety finish. I am especially pleased with how conducive it is to manipulating coated paper torn from magazines, an ingredient I am quite fond of. I lightly sand the reverse side, adding a bit of white glue to the paste for good measure, and, using this hand-pasting technique, I have never found “mag scrap” more easy to work with. It may not seem like a big deal to those who attend diverse workshops and demonstrations, but, as a self-taught collage artist, it feels like a significant breakthrough to me.

Now, the only question that remains is one of durability. The seminal works of K.S. show every sign of lasting a century in decent shape, but I am no museum expert, nor have I been as fixated on archival longevity as some collage artists I know. I expect my creations to age, perhaps in unexpected ways. This reminds me of an online discussion not long ago about using elements taken from newspapers. Many collage artists may share my expectation that a newsprint ingredient will simply mature as nature sees fit, adding a certain “wabi-sabi” aspect to a work of art that relies on found material. Who knows what Picasso or Braque thought about the nature of impermanence when each created their first collage with that famous wood-grain paper found in a store? Or, for that matter, what Schwitters himself thought when— with seemingly little regard for acid-free niceties —he built the enduring concepts of Merz on the detritus of ordinary life?
 

There I Was by J A Dixon

There I Was
collage experiment by J A Dixon
8.75 x 11.5 inches, not for sale