Archive for December, 2012

Happy Happy !

Monday, December 31st, 2012


Stories of the Cosmic Cusp ~ J A Dixon

Cosmic Cusp
mixed media collage by J A Dixon
16 x 20 inches

— S O L D —

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!

Merry Merry !

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


Tannenbaumbastic by J A Dixon

collage miniature by J A Dixon


Friday, December 21st, 2012

“I want to be in Kentucky when the end of the world comes, because it’s always 20 years behind.”
— Mark Twain

I’m sitting here in the Bluegrass State, wondering how everyone else is faring today. My hunch is that the Mayans stopped working on their stone calendar because they were a bit preoccupied with the Spanish conquistadores. Or, as somebody more witty than me speculated the other day, the artisan responsible probably put it aside and remarked to a friend, “If I never finish this thing, it’s not the end of the world.”
Twelve-Twenty-One-Twelve by J A Dixon

collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.5 x 8 inches, available for purchase

Friday Morning

Monday, December 17th, 2012

“There is evil in the world. It’s beyond mental illness, beyond gun control. It is evil.”
— John R Coyne, Jr

“Man is made of such crooked stuff that it is impossible to set him straight, said a famous philosopher. God help us.”
— Ben Stein

When something like this occurs, there are those who respond with heartfelt, eloquent words. A few others will make political hay.

Some of us can only make art.

Friday Morning by J A Dixon

Friday Morning
collage miniature by J A Dixon
5 x 7.5 inches, available for purchase

Blue Cracker Jacket

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing and that’s why we recommend it daily.”
— Zig Ziglar   ( 1926–2012 ~ R I P )

I occasionally create, as a motivational exercise, a collage-miniature-as-greeting-card with no thought for who will eventually receive it, the opposite of making one by reflection on a particular soul. I cannot help but think that the intended individual is somehow— at a level hidden from outer consciousness and in a way we do not yet understand —part of the creative process. This is not unlike when people discover an unclaimed artwork and respond to it with the forceful conviction that it was produced specifically for them.

Blue Cracker Jacket by J A Dixon

Blue Cracker Jacket
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.5 x 3.75 inches, not for sale

Broken Qualifications

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

“Any true artist is putting down the most accurate formula he can for what he perceives … The truth is the truth and you don’t want to change it to make it more palatable to reach more people.”
— Robert Motherwell

I frequently make reference to figures who have made their mark on art history, but I also find the work of my collage contemporaries very stimulating. An astonishing number of artists are exploring this vibrant medium who remain true to a keen perception that is beyond an art-buying public looking for familiar effects. This is nothing new, and presents a problem only for those who attempt to gain wide popularity. Occasionally, I am lured by a collage that has made a clear stab at shock, irony, or absurdity. These evocative goals, or some level of social commentary, are worthy objectives for collage as an art form (for which it can be strongly suited). They are among the different approaches to an orientation that Laura T Holmes refers to as “intentional design.” At any rate, I will usually set aside admiration for a conceptual process and re-focus on the visual aesthetics that continuously capture my interest: color, shape, texture, depth, rhythm, resonance, counterpoint, and compositional harmony. So much the better if layers of symbolic meaning emerge, and an observer brings his or her individual responses to the finished result.

Broken Qualifications by J A Dixon

Broken Qualifications
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6 x 8 inches
see the revised version

There I Was

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

“He spread flour and water over the paper, then moved and shuffled and manipulated his scraps of paper around in the paste…. Finally, he removed the excess paste with a damp rag, leaving some like an overglaze in places where he wanted to veil or mute a part of the color.”
— Charlotte Weidler

It has been more than a year since I had the humbling opportunity to study dozens of Kurt Schwitters originals at the Berkeley Art Museum. I read the description by the art historian Charlotte Weidler that same day, but I only recently decided to experiment with the paste method she observed. I have always worked with a variety of adhesives, and I often combine more than one in a single collage, never hesitating to literally mix them together (white glue + acrylic varnish, for example). I was impressed with how good some of Kurt’s compositions had held together after 70 to 80 years. I dug out a small package of paper-hanger’s wheat paste acquired in the 1970s, with the new intention of using it to produce a collage on canvas that would stand on its own as an object when finished. Although I expected to coat the final surface later with gel medium, for my first piece based on using the same adhesive as the pioneering artist, I was mainly interested in how wheat paste would affect my process.

The artwork is undone, but I share one of my separate experiments below. I could not be more pleased with the results of this approach. The paste dries slowly. This allows for repositioning, easy removal of excess, and it cures to a flat, velvety finish. I am especially pleased with how conducive it is to manipulating coated paper torn from magazines, an ingredient I am quite fond of. I lightly sand the reverse side, adding a bit of white glue to the paste for good measure, and, using this hand-pasting technique, I have never found “mag scrap” more easy to work with. It may not seem like a big deal to those who attend diverse workshops and demonstrations, but, as a self-taught collage artist, it feels like a significant breakthrough to me.

Now, the only question that remains is one of durability. The seminal works of K.S. show every sign of lasting a century in decent shape, but I am no museum expert, nor have I been as fixated on archival longevity as some collage artists I know. I expect my creations to age, perhaps in unexpected ways. This reminds me of an online discussion not long ago about using elements taken from newspapers. Many collage artists may share my expectation that a newsprint ingredient will simply mature as nature sees fit, adding a certain “wabi-sabi” aspect to a work of art that relies on found material. Who knows what Picasso or Braque thought about the nature of impermanence when each created their first collage with that famous wood-grain paper found in a store? Or, for that matter, what Schwitters himself thought when— with seemingly little regard for acid-free niceties —he built the enduring concepts of Merz on the detritus of ordinary life?

There I Was by J A Dixon

There I Was
collage experiment by J A Dixon
8.75 x 11.5 inches, not for sale

More cards . . .

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


Centrifugal Repose by J A Dixon

Centrifugal Repose
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of G Orth

Hunt Wild People by J A Dixon

Large Bore Boar
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of D Simpson

Albuquerque Aura by J A Dixon

Albuquerque Aura
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of W Keahey

Old Dead White Guys by J A Dixon

Old Dead White Guys
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of Heston Family