Painting the town again. (With paper!)

June 30th, 2024

“Yes, I hustle, I hustle to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.”
— Anthony Hopkins

The plein air tradition is alive and well in Central Kentucky. My thanks to Arts Connect for an outstanding “Paint the Town” event, with sincere appreciation to juror James Swanson for his recognition of collage as a plein air medium. A 2nd-place prize was quite unexpected, because it was everything I could do to meet their timetable in the extreme heat. All artwork had to be delivered framed and ready for immediate display by the 8am to 2pm deadline.

This event is always challenging for me, because I rarely need to paste as fast as I must for such a rigorous pace. Every time I go outside to create a collage landscape, adequate preparation is important, and then I try to be as spontaneous as I can with the materials that I bring. For this annual competition, the chosen scene is carefully scouted. I make more “prepared ingredients” ahead of time. That usually means additional printed-text gel transfers on a range of colored papers. You may have seen how I often include them for facade patterns, foregrounds, and foliage. Dana (my indispensable partner) dug out some of her mid-century carpet thread for my mobile stash, and I used it during the final minutes for utility wires.

The resulting exhibition is at the downtown branch of Lexington Public Library. For as long as it lasts, please view the artworks online to see a strong body of landscapes completed on that hot day. Buy one!


Ode to Grain
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
100% / 0% — site to studio
10 x 10 inches + handmade wood frame
available for purchase

•  Second Place Prize

Collage outside stands on painting.

June 24th, 2024

“I think you have to know more than what is current and ‘hot,’ to use a loathsome word. You have to be familiar with the foundation of the work and understand it’s what you’re standing on.”
— Mike Nichols


My recent outing to Shaker Village involved a different approach to collage landscape when I made two detailed sketches first, with the intent to tear and glue paper on top of it. I have a keen interest in the fact that those who developed collage as a modern art considered themselves painters. I keep pushing to use paper outside with that foundation in mind. Partly due to my added preliminary time, I was disappointed in the degree of progress for the day. The second start with a more architectural emphasis will be put on hold. I would like to return to this exact spot. I may decide to finish the sheep enclosure rapidly in the studio (to preserve the overall impression and to retain its designation as a plein air artwork by staying within the 50/50 allocation of time), but it might be more desirable to go back and complete it on site. We shall see.

Sheep Enclosure, Shaker Village (interim stage)
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
12.5 x 5.875 inches

Catharsis series extends itself

June 12th, 2024

My third rule of collage: Intuition is worthy of your trust.

Taken to fruition, a catharsis of the unconscious is always a possibility with this medium. And so, my peculiar series continues in a thought-provoking manner.

From Their Special Place

June 5th, 2024

“We are part and parcel of the big plan of things. We are simply instruments recording in different measure our particular portion of the infinite. And what we absorb of it makes for character, and what we give forth, for expression.”
— Rockwell Kent

I returned to historic Caldwell Farm to coordinate an “Art Out” for the Plein Air Artists of Central Kentucky (PAACK). When I suitably had met my few obligations for the day, I went alone toward the heart of the acreage to locate a spot that the owners refer to as the “Special Place.” Along a well-tended pathway, near a quiet watershed, I set up my makeshift plein air collage rig. From that perspective, I sought to interpret in papers a far-off cluster of corn cribs and structures that once served as the focus of an innovative cattle-raising operation. Two different angles of this agricultural configuration previously had become part of my LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY collection.

I found myself simplifying, simplifying. Paper demands it, of course, but also I had hoped to touch the essence of the early summer scene — a moody sky, the limited palette of buildings, plus an expanse of new corn, barely above the soil. Representational collage, if anything, must be about expression, not craft. What one is blessed to take away from contact with the fusion of nature, ingenuity, and intentional affection is left to individual receptivity. Being a so-called artist is not necessary to reap the potential benefits of experiencing rural beauty.


From Their Special Place
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
9 x 7.625 inches
available for purchase

Make Your Mark

June 1st, 2024


Make Your Mark
collage on reclaimed canvas by J A Dixon
26.5 x 26.5 inches

You guessed correctly.

May 27th, 2024

Making progress with this new collage on reclaimed canvas for unveiling at CAMP during Thursday’s Gallery Hop Stop in downtown Danville, Kentucky (produced by the Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County).

Yeah, I know — it’s a Bourbon thing!

Make Your Mark, interim stage of development
collage on reclaimed canvas by J A Dixon

April Burst

May 8th, 2024

“Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing being wrong.”
— Peter McIntyre

It has been too “moist” this week for me to make art with paper outside, so I did my studio finish to the collage that I had started at a previous Art Out. Whether or not it is apparent to others, I try to do something different each time, an interpretation or radical ingredient choice that causes discomfort at first. I think it’s important to momentarily frighten myself. Then I know that I might be breaking new ground.


April Burst
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
Plein Air Artists of Central Kentucky

May 1st, 2024

My solo show of collage landscapes is back on display — this time at the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library. The exhibition lasts from May 1 to June 30 — Palumbo Drive at Man O War Boulevard.

Tiny PaperScape

April 30th, 2024

This small paper landscape was created for an Art Center of the Bluegrass “tiny art” fundraiser, and if you know who selected it, please let her know that I will be more than happy to add a signature. Participants in this annual event are asked to submit the miniature piece unsigned. Click here for my guiding attitude about art donations.

Tiny Paperscape
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6 x 6 inches

IMCAC Collage Exchange  ~  Warfare Series

April 27th, 2024


The recent Baker’s Half Dozen Collage Exchange sparked a new series of miniatures that quickly took on a warfare theme. Now to see which one the Museum retains for its permanent collection.


My eleven-part Warfare Series originated with no conscious intent nor anticipated interpretation and potentially serves as a kind of “collage rorschach.” Images that personify both the greatest evil and the highest good have always found inclusion in my collage artwork from time to time. This kind of art is very different than my representational collage, although both are based on re-using and manipulating found paper that has little, if any, intrinsic value. Juxtaposing the detritus of our culture within this practice offers creative choices about what to use and what to ignore. I continue to be interested in the complex relationship between spontaneity, intuitive judgment, and subjective awareness.

Capturing an Arcadian Sky

March 25th, 2024

“I have learned to expect nothing of the weather
but what it gives us.”
— Rockwell Kent

Last September at nearby Arcadia Farm, I fell under the spell of a horizon and stuck with the mood of early-morning clouds for the rest of the session. With the prevailing heat, other members of the PAACK may have been praying for more breeze, but I was grateful for hours of no wind. I wasn’t even using clothespins! I wanted to interpret the viewscape as that huge land grant might’ve looked to the original Shelby family in the 1700s. Although pleased with the result that I took home, I knew I wanted to make studio additions at the base of the artwork before declaring it ready for a signature. And so here we are, March of 2024. As I look ahead to a new season of taking collage outside, it made sense to finally complete the studio refinements on one of my favorite landscapes from 2023.


Arcadian Sky
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
11.375 x 7.875 inches
available to collectors