Archive for the ‘R Plowman’ Category

Core Memories

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

“Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.”
– Leonard Cohen

I admire many of the more prolific collage artists — Kroll, Rose, Bealy, Tidwell, Flowers, Collins, to name only a few — but there can be a significant contrast between “work ethic” and the contrived productivity made trendy by social networking. It was interesting when Plowman was climbing the mountain of “Collage A Day.” Now one has to pass the corpses being stacked beside the route up the peak. Most of us can tell the difference between a display of ongoing professionalism and the indiscriminate output of those with a high need for public approval. That being said, someone who is a blogger on “all things collage” might carelessly tread into the latter while neglecting the former. If I do, or if this site lapses into pretension, I challenge you to call me on it. Please. Nevertheless, we should all keep in mind that the nature of the medium invites the floating of one’s work for an appropriate give-and-take interaction. Offering intuition and spontaneity free rein means that often we can be too close to the culminating artifact to perceive many of the symbolic connections or nuanced associations, and that takes feedback. It may take other sets of eyes to tell us whether the gem sparkles or not. Our handy interweb makes it easy to lavish “likes” on one another in lieu of the genuine constructive criticism we require to fortify our studio rituals. Are we finally ready to move past mutual thumbs-upping and to become more candid with each other?

Core Memories ~ collage miniature by John Andrew Dixon

Core Memories
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.875 x 7 inches
Purchase this artwork!

On Nostalgia in Collage

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

“ . . . what I am hoping to do is discover if it is possible to separate nostalgia and collage art, or determine whether the two are inextricably entwined.”
— Joel Lambeth

In a blog entry last month, collage artist Joel Lambeth asked the challenging question, “Is collage inherently nostalgic?” It is one of the more provocative pieces about our medium that I have read this year, although a bit wordy in places. Admittedly, most working collage artists like us who maintain blogs that purport to be more than an online portfolio are not the finest writers alive, and I salute him for not choosing to approach the topic in a superficial way. Nevertheless, it is always risky to generalize about anything, but Lambeth cuts deeply into the subject to probe the history and heart of collage as an art form, and he manages to avoid a semantic discourse on the definition of the word “nostalgia.” His thoughtful viewpoints have sparked a desire on my part to weigh in (with what also may prove to be an entry more verbose than usual).

The groundbreaker Max Ernst worked with vintage engravings, perhaps to emphasize his anti-traditionalist intentions.a Joseph Cornell aviary assemblage He influenced Joseph Cornell, who captured feelings of personal nostalgia with innovative effects that were as cutting-edge as they were fixated on musings about the past. When analyzing collage artwork with respect to the idea of nostalgia, we must take into consideration the artist’s motivation in addition to the overall character of the medium. When I look at current examples from the daily waves of creative output, it is clear that nostalgia in collage plays out along a spectrum or continuum like nearly every other feature of the process, whether it be minimalism/maximalism, realism/surrealism, or representation/abstraction.

It is surprising to me how many contemporary collage artists work exclusively with old ingredients, but that does not mean necessarily that their agenda is merely to traffic in sentimentality. Sara Caswell-Pearce and Nancy Gene Armstrong are among those who appear to harness nostalgia as a conscious objective in their work while achieving a broad balance of artistic creativity. Many collage artists, such as Carolina Chocron, Nikki Soppelsa, Ross Carron, Fred Litch, Laura Collins, and Frank Voigt are more apt to generate nostalgic tones as a byproduct of incorporating vintage ingredients into strong compositions. Only these individuals could clarify to what degree they actively try to convey impressions of an era gone by. The versatile Zach Collins and Randel Plowman, although they frequently work with obviously old paper, both seem to be engaged in ongoing visual investigations more primary than any sense of nostalgia embedded in their finished works.

Lambeth compares the nostalgic impulse to the process of collage itself and concludes by suggesting “that at a very base level collage and nostalgia have more in common than they do separating them.” He acknowledges the contemporary effort to transcend the inherent bias that the medium may have toward nostalgia. Perhaps he, Marc Deb, Launa Romoff, Andrew Lundwall, Teri Dryden, and numerous other artists are making the push beyond any fundamental nostalgic essence. If so, collage, after more than a hundred years, is cycling back to its roots, when Kurt Schwitters, who always considered himself a painter, became convinced that the pasted detritus of his environment was equally as legitimate as a brushstroke of oily pigment.

Midnight Gambol: Or Why The Bees Slept In Every Morning
mixed-media collage by Sara Caswell-Pearce

A Boy and a Swan
collage by Nancy Gene Armstrong

descosiendo el cuadrilátero
collage by Carolina Chocron

Napoleon shows his hand
collage by Nikki Soppelsa

collage by Fred Litch

Nubecula Cum Ovi
collage by Ross Carron

collage by Laura Collins

collage by Fred Voigt

collage on wood panel by Zach Collins

August Night
collage by Randel Plowman

Ripping It Up
collage by Joel Lambeth

Imperfect Parallels
collage by Marc Deb

the parrot (detail)
mixed-media collage by Launa D Romoff

mixed-media collage by Andrew Lundwall

9 Lives
mixed-media collage by Teri Dryden

The March Exercise

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

“The unshakable rule is that you don’t have a really good idea until you combine two little ideas. That is why you scratch for little ideas. Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas.”
— Twyla Tharp

For a number of years, the month of March has held a special distinction for me as an artist. It all began in 2006 as a month-long experiment in focused awareness and evolved into an annual exercise to discover, refine, and internalize creative habits. Tomorrow morning the practice will commence again as I produce and post a collage miniature each day for the duration of the month. Of course, this is not a new idea. When it comes to doing this sort of thing online, most of us who concentrate in the medium will immediately think of Randel Plowman, the artist, author, curator, and blogger, who holds the A Collage A Day web domain. His successful publication, The Collage Workbook, brought heightened attention to the art form during its centennial year. Another individual who has made the online commitment is Portuguese artist Dilar Pereira, who maintains the Daily Collage Project. But when it comes to the ritual itself, who can hold a candle to the late John Evans? The New York artist created a daily collage for 37 years (except for a single day when he was too ill). Now that’s what I call an exercise!

Color Chart
collage on paper by Randel Plowman
8 x 8 inches
A Collage A Day

O Beijo
collage on canvas by Dilar Pereira
13 x 13 centimeters
Daily Collage Project

collage and watercolor on paper by John Evans
12 x 9 inches

By Heaven’s Good Grace

Friday, December 28th, 2012

“Whatever an artist’s personal feelings are, as soon as an artist fills a certain area on the canvas or circumscribes it, he becomes historical. He acts from or upon other artists.”
— Willem De Kooning

“You can never see too many things in a work of art. Itself, the work is a means for discovering what is already within us. The true work of art is more than its creator; it is always beyond him; soon it enters another orbit not his, because the artist changes, he dies, while the work lives in others.”
— Michel Seuphor

As I look back on six months of producing this site, I recognize that there are probably only a handful of people who currently pay a visit. To those of you who do, please accept a sincere tip of the hat. I hope that you find my periodic entries to be stimuli worthy of your time. Perhaps 2013 will bring a wider audience.

Collage is a distinctively collaborative medium, at times directly, but always indirectly. We are continuously interacting with those responsible for the ingredients we value enough to incorporate into a work. They might include one of the finest masters of the brush, an outstanding photographer, a bull-pen illustrator, an obscure commercial artist, or an anonymous shipping-carton keyliner. All that matters is this: Each has in some way caught hold of our eye, mind, or heart. Each has become an influence and unwitting contributor. For reasons not entirely clear, some of us attempt to have a more active effect on the state of our art by regularly making words, too. Allow me to bring a few stimulating blogs to your attention, if you haven’t already discovered them—

matthew rose studio
kathleen o’brien studio
a collage a day
daily collage project
with scissors by hand
paper with a past
every day should be a red letter day
lynn whipple’s blog
janice mcdonald collage art studio
four corners design
the altered page
collage clearinghouse


By Heaven’s Good Grace ~ J A Dixon

By Heaven’s Good Grace
collage miniature by J A Dixon
5 x 5 inches
Purchase this artwork!

The ’61 Olds

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
—John Shedd

For some time now I’ve been observing how Matthew Rose and Randel Plowman make effective use of birds, and I acknowledge that there is something irresistible about including them in a collage. Most likely, it goes back to Joseph Cornell’s aviaries. I also noticed that I placed a bird in my Face with Asparagus as a sort of eyebrow. I intend to use that image as the “face” of The Collage Miniaturist. Below is a study lifted from one of my personal journals, which tend to be caught between a collection of organizational lists, private anecdotes, and diary of thumbnail sketches.

Since I’ve posted my review of Kathleen O’Brien’s recent exhibition, it’s probably time to sail this boat out into open water. Thinking of birds, perhaps I should say instead, fly out of the nest, —or— drive that ’61 Oldsmobile to a destination unknown. Tomorrow sounds good.

The ’61 Olds by J A Dixon

The ’61 Olds
collage miniature by J A Dixon
3 x 3 inches, not for sale