Archive for June, 2024

Painting the town again. (With paper!)

Sunday, 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.

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Saturday, June 1st, 2024


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