Archive for January, 2013

Fortune Collage Project

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Here are the rest of the recent experiments from my participation in the Fortune Collage Project. Aside from the strict imposition of vintage magazine scrap, which dictates a particular look not in keeping with my typical eclectic mix of ingredients, the primary realization I gained from this exercise is a greater awareness of how much I rely on a series of closing decisions to fine tune my composition. A speed requirement strips nearly all of that phase from my process. It was interesting to observe the distinct difference between spontaneity and deliberate refinement. Each involves a different kind of intuitive response. 

A

B

C

D

A—   Life with Bobby
B—   Over the Weekend
C—   The Following Presentation
D—   Crocodile Tears

collage miniatures by J A Dixon
7.75 x 4.5 inches
Fortune Collage Project
available for purchase

Daze of Yore

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

“Creativity arises out of the tension between
spontaneity and limitations . . . ”
— Rollo May

If you want to see just how quickly 30 minutes can zip by, try your hand at the Fortune Collage Project. Charles Wilkin currently has a bunch of us speed-pasting his vintage scrap, as we take part in the latest collaborative exercise among facebook friends. It’s important to keep these kinds of involvements under control, but Wilkin has put together a thoughtful ritual that I could not resist. I have a tendency to pride myself on a high level of spontaneity, so occasionally I have to put it to a true test. It can be fun, informative, and more than a bit humbling, too. 

Daze of Yore
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.75 x 4.5 inches
Fortune Collage Project
available for purchase

Left Field Corner

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Degas: “Voilà! I have this great idea for a poem.”
Mallarmé: “Alors mon ami, poems are made out of
words, not ideas.”

It has been said that ingredients make the collage. One could argue that case. But what of the comprehensive whole? Does the effect of the artwork not rely on the compositional relationships and the interest of juxtapositions? Of course. But what could be expressed without the ingredients? What would a painting be without the paint? Do you know a collage artist who does not take special care with the selection of the physical components and does not thoughtfully compile, sort, edit, and re-edit before the process of assembly takes place? Some may emphasize the pictorial or symbolic qualities, while others may focus more on abstract or aesthetic attributes. Many give great attention to the sourcing or provenance, with personal criteria that must be met in service to a sought-after look or personal style. Others zero in on the transitory nature of ingredients, independent of representational aspects, with a keen regard for age, condition, and the sense of impermanence. But the bottom line for all— something a perceptive friend recently pointed out to me— is that each and every ingredient caught the artist’s eye in some significant, personal way, in some manner that gave glimpse to its ultimate visual potential. That was when I realized how most of my ingredients had run a long gauntlet of multiple scrutinies: First it was acquired and saved for some reason. Then it was retrieved from its repository for some reason (often years later). Then it was grouped with other worthy candidates for some reason. And then finally it was used in a work. It found a new purpose for which it was not originally intended, a place where it belonged, when other items were set aside (perhaps to win a role in another collage, or to eventually fall out of favor). It’s hard to disagree with the idea that the culminating gestalt of a collage determines its level of success, the degree to which it becomes more than the sum of its parts. Ah… but how we relish those parts!
 

Left Field Corner ~ J A Dixon

Left Field Corner
collage miniature by J A Dixon
5.5 x 5.5 inches
collection of R K Hower

An exhibition in Durango.

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

My appreciation to Cecil Touchon for including one of my works in a collage exhibition at the Durango Art Center. Cecil has said, in his typically understated manner, “I just grabbed some things off the walls at the archives, with the thought of techniques used as examples for the upcoming workshop, which is sold out already … and I also wanted to show the international nature of the collection.” He often refers to the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction, but not to his impressive labor as a preservationist and his effort to raise the profile of the medium during its centennial year.

Plate Touchonics ~ J A Dixon

Plate Touchonics
collage on canvas
by J A Dixon
12 x 12 inches
collection of the
Ontological Museum

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.

First exhibition of 2013

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

“What makes a painting meaningful is the spectacle of the ordinary content living together with the equally important life of the picture plane and the unity of the whole surface.”
— Gillian Pederson Krag

It pleases me to say that my most recent large-scale artwork will be on display and available for purchase as part of an invitational exhibition now hanging in my hometown.

NEW YEAR NEW ART ~ Community Arts Center, Danville, Kentucky
January 2 to 26, 2013 ~ Reception: January 10, 6–8 pm

The invitation to participate is an honor for two reasons. It is always good for one to know that local people appreciate collage, especially the more esoteric kind. Even more humbling is to be included among some truly outstanding Kentucky artists, such as Sheldon Tapley, Helene Steene, Kathleen O’Brien, and Marianna McDonald. I’m looking forward to the reception this Thursday. Mayor Steven Connelly of nearby Berea will speak on the powerful effect the arts can have on local economies. According to Programming Director Brandon Long, the intention is to showcase “fresh, new art that has the kind of excitement and energy of artists who know their work will go on display.” Many of the diverse works were created specifically for the exhibition, and that includes mine. Everything accepted had to have been executed since September.

Diamonds in the Rough is a composite of panels and stretchers. It is my latest effort to free collage from behind glass and approach the medium in a manner similar to the painted surface that stands on its own. I also departed from my typical rectilinear format, yet sought to maintain the type of perpendicularity that I frequently exploit for a unified structure. As usual, the color balance of found material plays a vital role in my overall composition. The lineage of the collage miniature is strong here. In fact, nearly everything I do to produce a major work comes from what I have learned from the small-format approach. This recognition is not meant in any way to devalue the miniature. I would hope that you have come to know my penchant well enough by now to appreciate that.

The next entry will include some detail crops and perhaps a few remarks about the process, too.
 
Diamonds in the Rough ~ J A Dixon

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

Resolved . . .

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

‎”Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first day of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (thanks to four corners design)

It is interesting to see the contrasts inherent in various discussions about setting New Year’s resolutions. I think that most people who make them keep the practice to themselves, and the ones who do not are prompted to explain why, often coming from a position that seems cynical or overly critical to me. To be fair, some are simply being practical when they question the efficacy. For those who go out of their way to sow seeds of disdain for the customary list: it’s not about now long it stays viable, or about the resulting success rate, or whether it retains meaning in a culture where overt self-improvement carries a tinge of “fuddy-duddy-ness.” For me it’s about one’s mindset at the cyclical cusp. Is it not just “the thought that counts.” The thought becomes a renewal of self-belief, expressed in multiple line-items of striving. It requires introspection, evaluation, discernment, and commitment— hardly fashionable, to be sure. As an artist, I know that resolutions have worked for me at some level, just as they have for other aspects of my personal discipline (the effort to stop smoking, quit refined sweeteners, or get into marathon condition all began with a New Year’s Day pledge). The bad rap on resolutions probably has a lot to do with the familiar failure to abstain, and that’s understandable, given the nature of human behavior. For the most part, the average person underestimates the value of failure as a stepping stone to achievement. Some of the best insight I’ve read on the subject has been written and shared by choreographer Twyla Tharp. For a creative individual, positive resolutions can be an aid to tackling new challenges. Perhaps it is better to attempt a new ritual of focusing on priorities rather than resolving to banish procrastination, for example. Detrimental patterns can more effectively be overcome if one replaces them with beneficial habits. If a promise to oneself on January the First will help, I’m all for it.
 

Majestic Fetch ~ J A Dixon

Majestic Fetch
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6 x 6 inches

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