Archive for the 'Experiments' Category

Training the trainers in Eastern Kentucky!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

“We make a living by what we get;
we make a life by what we give.”
— Winston Curchill
 

I’m still feeling a satisfying vibe from one of the most personally rewarding events ever! My hands-on collage workshop was part of the “Train the Trainer“ series in Paintsville, Kentucky for the Johnson County Extension Office. Participating artists intend to share this learning throughout their community in the coming months. My thanks to a fabulous group of creative individuals who were curious about “all things collage” and inspired to “pay it forward” among fellow citizens in their beautiful area of our Commonweath.

After an opening presentation with my whirlwind tour through over 200 years of collage history, a demonstration offered cutting tips, the basics of pasting technique, an overview of translucency and transfers, plus an emphasis on maintaining the flow of improvisational layering. (See my end-result demo piece below.) Throughout the day we stressed the fundamentals of visual aesthetics, while keeping our focus on intuitive spontaneity within an experimental process. Tables cluttered with potential ingredients were the norm, as participants tackled three time-based exercises and produced a collage miniature for each. Their well-crafted, colorful solutions were the take-home product, and we managed to fit in a closing discussion full of important observations. I was impressed with the group’s talent, curiosity, and spirit of creative adventure! It was an astonishing thing for me to observe how fluently they attuned to the vocabulary of collage expression, having no prior awareness of Hannah Höch, Joseph Cornell, or the Merz of Kurt Schwitters.

 
It’s been a while since I accepted the role of teacher. I was surprised and concerned to discover that it was no longer within my “comfort zone.” I faced a gauntlet of self-assurance to run before I felt prepared. The delightful, encouraging Brenda Cockerham, our project leader, provided vital support. As ever, Dana was an indispensable “partner in all things.” Why must I periodically be reminded that giving back is every bit as significant as anything I get from my artistic practice? I’m a fortunate man, because cutting and pasting offers a universal experience that is effortless to share with others — if I just get out of my own way. Collage at all levels presents an ideal opportunity for individual receptivity. It’s rewarding to watch this sense of discovery, similar to what I experience myself as I explore the wide potential of art made from paper that would otherwise be cast away. This connection with others fires my enthusiasm to compile additional collage insights and to continue passing them along. There is much to gain within a shared creative environment when we take discarded stuff and create value where none existed, and find wonder, meaning, and beauty where none had been expected.

 

Don’t Clown Around
collage experiment by J A Dixon
created during my workshop demonstration
6.5 x 8.5 inches

My Oh So Fallible Intuition

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

Did you celebrate World Collage Day?
Check out this Instagram tag and be amazed.

 

My Oh So Fallible Intuition
collage experiment by J A Dixon
6.25 x 6.6875 inches
a salute to World Collage Day, 2022
available for purchase

March Ex(plosion)  |  Fourteenth Collage

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

 

Oh, Jane
collage experiment by J A Dixon
148 x 210 millimeters (A5 proportion)
‘Hungry for Love’ open call

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

2020 JOURNAL:
Looking at my final experiment of the year while developing a large work on canvas.

Did we leave 2020 better than we found it? Each individual will decide.
 

Untitled (dark4x)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
7 x 5 inches

Three fourth-quarter miniatures

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

 
collage

Her Pensive Nights
collage miniature by J A Dixon
8 x 8.375 inches

 
collage experiment conducted during the first personal collage workshop with Marty Strock

Untitled (smooch)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
7.1875 x 7.1875 inches

 
collage

Tiny Medicine
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.75 x 4.75 inches

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
50% / 50% — site to studio
7.5 x 7.8125 inches
available for purchase

Strike a light!

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

“Edinburgh Collage Collective would like to send a huge thank you to all the participating collage artists from around the world who have joined us for this project. Our matchbox project has attracted over 1000 submissions. It’s been a great pleasure and inspiration to receive and share all the incredible work. We have certainly seen examples of artists thinking both inside and outside the box. The exploration of the medium has resulted in a wide variety of diverse approaches and interpretations. We have seen everything from 2d flattened boxes to full blown dioramas – all taking their inspiration from the humble matchbox.”
— Rhed Fawell, E C C
 

I was inspired to compose something different for the “STRIKE A LIGHT” Matchbox Project, an open call from Edinburgh Collage Collective, which invited international collage artists to make work incorporating the matchbox as a visual starting point. It was a fun submission for me, since I rarely explore 3D collage.

The two shuttle trucks by Tootsie Toy® are from 1967. The original Union Match box (with Vincent peeking out) is one I brought back from Brussels in 1974. The whole thing was sparked by finding a tree frog.

Better not ask me to explain how my mind works. I’m still as baffled by creativity as I was when I decided, as an adolescent, that there was no possible aspiration for me other than to become a visual artist.
 

Strike a Light
photo-collage by J A Dixon
created for the #strikealight2020 project

Februllage ~ day twenty-six

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

 
collage experiment (day twenty-six) by John Andrew Dixon for Februllage, a collage-a-day initiative by the Edinburgh Collage Collective and the Scandinavian Collage Museum

Untitled (kiss)
collage exercise by J A Dixon
9.625 x 9.625 inches
 
for Februllage 2020

Februllage ~ day nineteen

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

 
collage experiment (day nineteen) by John Andrew Dixon for Februllage, a collage-a-day initiative by the Edinburgh Collage Collective and the Scandinavian Collage Museum

Idols
collage exercise by J A Dixon
6.875 x 8 inches
 
for Februllage 2020

Februllage ~ day ten

Monday, February 10th, 2020

 
collage experiment (day ten) by John Andrew Dixon for Februllage, a collage-a-day initiative by the Edinburgh Collage Collective and the Scandinavian Collage Museum

Personae
collage experiment by J A Dixon
5 x 6.25 inches
 
for Februllage 2020

Februllage ~ day seven

Friday, February 7th, 2020

 
collage experiment (day seven) by John Andrew Dixon for Februllage, a collage-a-day initiative by the Edinburgh Collage Collective and the Scandinavian Collage Museum

Untitled (poem)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
5.75 x 5.75 inches
 
for Februllage 2020