Still Life

The first working artist I knew personally was the Polish woman who created exhibits for the display cases in the university library where I worked. She was an early practitioner of photocopy art. From her, I learned (for instance) that if you make photocopies of photocopies, then after several iterations, you have odd textures and even abstractions in your output tray.

This is not that, but every time it occurs to me to use copied images in an interesting way, I think of her, her lovely accent, and her creative eye.

This week’s mixed media prompt was “Still Life.” I knew I wanted to use a tablescape I keep on my kitchen table, but I didn’t want to wrestle with drawing it. So I photographed it, converted the images to gray scale, and reduced the colors to three. That gave me an agreeable level of simplification.

After that, I made copies on white, red, and kraft paper and reassembled my tablescape.

At least that’s what I should have done! But no, I fooled around some, added an extra bottle, and did some premature gluing, thus leaving some elements dangling in the air. That’s a ding.

On the other hand, I think the background came out well – tinting with coffee and some skritchy pencil marks – and I love the three colors together. I think the doubled wine bottle is fun.

The green thing that looks like a thumb is a ceramic cactus that a family member made at the age of 8. The baby cup and spoon – hard to make out – are from my childhood. There’s no record of the giver, perhaps my godparents. They need a polish!

Imaginery Creatures

Until I started to pursue this mixed-media assignment, I had no idea that the Web is alive with disturbing altered images of blended creatures. I’ll say it up front: They are creepy.

For my own creation, I blended a tiger and an elephant. They seemed like a do-able combination, and I believed I could draw and paint a recognizable elephant. As for the tiger’s contribution, it was a matter of color and stripes. In case there was doubt in anyone’s mind, I could add claws. The antlers were for whimsy.

So I carried out my plan, and it was immediately apparent to me that my creature was miserable. I added text to provide some context for that feeling and some interesting border elements, not shown, but none of them made this not a sad picture.

I learned something from the exercise, but I am not sure what. Maybe just “don’t do the assignment if you don’t like it.” Which is what I tell the others in the group.

Learning from Doing

I made this story-map in response to the prompt “something from real life.” It doesn’t exactly knock my socks off. Yet there are things I like about it or learned from making it.

“In real life: we went for a ride” on New Year’s Day 2021.

I learned how hard it is to copy a map, even when it is right in front of you. I was reminded that you can’t draw well from a standing start. You have to draw a lot if you want your hand to learn to follow your eye.

I gave up early on drawing the map and worked from a photocopy. In a do-over, I would make a few more attempts at drawing my own map.

The outline of the main roads is visually interesting at the left/western edge of the map. I’ve invested five years of my life learning the quirks of those roads.

Left/west end of the map.

But at the right/eastern edge, the city is so dense that outlining the streets in the same way was impossible.

In other words, I couldn’t do justice to both parts of the journey at the same scale. on a hand-drawn map, I could have fudged the scale, as they do on those tourist placemat maps.

Since I was committed to my photocopy, I tried different strategies for eliminating unwanted map detail. Neither worked really well, but carving out segments with an exact knife worked less badly than smudging with white paint.

Likes: I like working on Kraft paper, and I like my color choices and the hand-lettering.

I like the little text disks, too.

Two more likes: I like the plaid border, which came from a food takeout bag, and I like recalling my childhood, when we went for car rides just for fun on a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and for those who don’t know, this is Durham, North Carolina, we’re looking at here. A fine place to live and play.

First They Appear

The mixed media gals took as a recent theme “disappear.” I made a couple grungy pieces about being ready for the current emergencies to disappear, but then my thinking took a swerve to a folk song I used to sing:

Come, all you fair and tender ladies,

be careful how you court young men.

They’re like the stars on a summer morning –

First they appear and then they’re gone.

You don’t know what will happen when your hands start wondering around on youur desk, There are no disappearing dogs in my history, but I just like this guy.

The Goddess Loves Pie

Cooking adventures are good topics for a zine (zeen), an 8-page folded single sheet book structure. Zines are a fun format for short anecdotes such as I tell below, and hand-written text feels right in this informal context. Just to be clear: Many other kinds of handmade small circulation pamphlet can be called zines, but book-arts-oriented people usually mean this kind of zine.

Zines are a little hard to photograph, but here goes. After the two photos, you’ll find scans of the page spreads.

Marbling with Shaving Cream

I had a go at paper marbling with liquid watercolor and Gillette Foamy shaving cream. Liquid watercolor is knock-your-socks-off vivid.

I made up the resulting papers into a small booklet about quadrilateral shapes, that is, rectangles and other four-sided figures. It’s a non-serious piece of bookmaking that was instructive to do, making it up as I went along.

I think I’ll do some more stab binding like this.

The Rock Garden

Collage of scrapbook, magazine, and art papers; ink drawing with a Zebra disposable fountain pen;smudges and fingerprints off an inkpad; Tombow markers. My mother’s rock garden was nothing like this, but I enjoyed thinking about it while I worked on this.

I could do a repeat of this piece; I worked on it in kind of a rush, a nervous rush rather than work against a deadline. I can think of ways to make it more closely resemble my evolving vision. Nonetheless, I do like it, especially the sky, which was a last-minute idea. Those are bats.

Bird Stickers

I’m doing a zine-shaped project with stickers. Although I had a number of sticker sets (I’m not sure why), I treated myself to a craft-store outing and bought quite a few more.

I work on the zine from time to time – I am in no rush. But I felt a need to release a few bird stickers right away. So I made a postcard.

A sad thing about stickers is that they don’t always stick very well. So the zine will probably be encased in packing tape. It’s not my favorite look, but it does have a very secure vibe.


I haven’t often used either of these artistic effects that my image processing software offers. They add strangeness to another wise plain collage.

The original:

Posterized, reducing the number of unique colors:

Solarization of the posterized image:

And that made for an intriguing morning.

A Little Something

I think I’ve said before that glossy high-fashion magazines both fascinate and repel me. This collage is another instance of what happens when I turn toward that kind of source material

I give it points for compositional balance, and I also like the unusual colors. The gold chain looks olive green on my monitor; the other colors are fairly true.