Archive for the 'Embedded Miniatures' Category

Miniature vs. Miniature

Monday, November 20th, 2017

“Tie small-scale contrasts together compositionally, but also large-scale contrasts; for instance: confront chaos with order, so that both groups, which are separately coherent, become related when they are placed next to or above each other; they enter into the relation of contrast, whereby the characters of both sides are mutually heightened.”
— Paul Klee, 1915
 

For the most part, I consider any collage artwork that is 8 x 10 inches or smaller to be a “miniature,” but this is not a definition that I expect anyone else to adopt. It is just a personal rule of thumb within my nomenclature, based on a conviction that the small format has been at the heart of the evolving medium from the outset and continues to be the wellspring of innovation.

Cohesive collage artworks at this scale have always been qualified to stand on their own as finished creations, but I am increasingly fascinated by the process of assembling multiples or embedding miniatures into composite designs. It boosts their perceived character as “artifacts,” and offers the practitioner another level of discernment that balances intuitive spontaneity with more considered design judgments.

This is a series that I shall enjoy expanding.
Please let me know what you think.
 

Fresh-Full of Youth ~ J A Dixon

Fresh-Full of Youth
combined collage miniature segments
J A Dixon, 11 x 14 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!

Clarissa’s Beetle ~ J A Dixon

Clarissa’s Beetle
combined collage miniature segments
J A Dixon, 11 x 14 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!

Empress of Wings ~ details

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

“Talking about my music traps me in a vicious circle and it’s very seldom that I manage to escape it. If I’m writing a new piece then I mustn’t talk about it because if I do then I have no impulse to write it any more. Once it’s written, then there is nothing left to say. That’s very apparent to me. It’s a matter of thinking in music, and I hope my music finds a direct way to the listener without any further explanation.”
— Arvo Pärt
 

Allow me to dive deeply into the context of my most prominent large-scale collage artwork to date. Some of you may dismiss my analytical subtext as obscure artspeak, or others might think that I have lost myself in an esoteric miasma. But to those of you who are kind enough to offer the benefit of the doubt, or who also conduct the same kind of “post-mortem” (heaven help us), this is the kind of thing that people with a visual design background have a tendency to do. Nevertheless, a collage artwork should stand on its own without a preliminary explanation or a closing summation (just so you know where I stand on that). For those of you who are still with me, let’s jump in…
 

detail from ‘Empress of Wings’ by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky ~ internationally known as The Collage Miniaturist

My goal was to create an illusion of depth with an abstract layering of value and
color contrasts, culminating with the “title character,” a Queen Alexandria Birdwing —
nature’s largest butterfly (which corresponds to this being the largest collage on
canvas that I have created so far).

detail from ‘Empress of Wings’ by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky ~ internationally known as The Collage Miniaturist

My development as an artist has been rooted in the small format, taking what I have
learned from that into the realm of a larger scale. It is not surprising that I find myself
embedding actual collage miniatures into bigger works, as I have done here.

detail from ‘Empress of Wings’ by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky ~ internationally known as The Collage Miniaturist

In addition to my preference for ingredients that represent the culture of language
and symbolic communication, I lean toward a “maximalist” approach, in this case
the clustering of dense material to contrast with bolder shapes and color-quantities.

detail from ‘Empress of Wings’ by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky ~ internationally known as The Collage Miniaturist

The counterpoise of angled polygons and strong diagonals forms the basis for a
dynamic visual tension, allowing for more nuanced details to serve as focal points, spatial anchors, and color accents.

detail from ‘Empress of Wings’ by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky ~ internationally known as The Collage Miniaturist

Although I have inserted into this artwork many details for literal association and
observational reverie, it is essentially a “collage painting,” with attention to the
artistic surface, an activation of visual space, and the overall viewing impression.

Thanks for visiting! Please register and comment here to let me know what you think. Criticism is permitted here. I promise to respond.

DAAP MADE

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

“Some people get an education without going to college. The rest get it after they get out.”
– Mark Twain
 

Yesterday I finished participating in the Malton Gallery’s DAAP MADE: The Exhibition, a contemporary showcase for those with a connection to the University of Cincinnati’s Collage of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. I was mildly astonished to have two large collage artworks accepted for display. It’s been awhile since I had something featured in Cincinnati, having left the school over 40 years ago with a degree and mixed emotions. My destination was Chicago, to accept a graphic design position, and I was not inclined to look back. It had been a rigorous program that left scars on my creative self, but it fully prepared me for the demands of becoming an independent professional.

Trust me, everything worked out just fine.
 
Diamonds in the Rough (detail) ~ J A Dixon  Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge (detail) ~ J A Dixon

details from
Diamonds in the Rough and Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge

two collage paintings by J A Dixon
(click each for more information)

Diamonds in the Rough ~ details

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Collage for me is always an intimate viewing experience. You may find me with spectacles off and nose pressed near to the surface of any example within the medium. The scale of Diamonds in the Rough enhances the contrast between an up-close scrutiny and a step-back regard for the entire effect. With a large piece like this, I also enjoy visually cropping areas to create a series of virtual collage miniatures.
 

This micro view accentuates the ingredient elements, as in a collage miniature.
Visually, larger works are less ingredient centric, but still rely on their qualities.

I think my imagination would never tire of working with diagonals.
What is it about the diamond or the triangle that engages my mind’s eye?

This is one of my favorite areas within the total artwork.
Oddly, the legs and hands resonate with the Tapley drawing in the exhibition.

The composition’s focal center projects from the surrounding forms.
It differs energetically from the outer areas of structural perpendicularity.

To regularly bestow a new purpose on found material . . .
Without fear of contradiction, one could say that I am hooked.

The essence of collage is the contrast of the mundane and sublime.
At any rate, this is often how I perceive it.

WH—WHO’S THERE? (Look closely: Milt Caniff, that’s who.)
Somebody saw this as an homage to Roy, but Kurt used comics first.

A collage can rest divertingly upon layers of symbolic meaning.
Or it can be simply the harmonious resolution of aesthetic factors.

The dynamics of complementarity. (Is that a real word?)
More than one astute eye discovered my warm-cool “horizon.”

Composing with shape, color, contrast, rhythm, dimension.
At times, it need be about nothing more than that.

This image isolates a microcosm of the whole effect.
Are my larger works just a aggregation of collage miniatures?

Thanks for looking. Let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is encouraged at this site. To be honest, the medium of collage needs a bit more of it.