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“A joyous shock …”

Art wasn’t part of Robert Rauschenberg’s upbringing. It wasn’t until he visited the Huntington Library in his 20s that he realized that paintings were the work of individual people and that he too could be an artist. The sight of them came as “a joyous shock,” wrote art historian Catherine Craft.

I tried out a set of watercolor crayons today and had a joyous shock of my own. Not a name brand, these crayons were creamy, and when I applied water, they spread exactly the right amount, creating tones but not obliterating all of the original mark-making.

I copied out the text about Rauschenberg’s discovery of art as something made by people (lightly abridged) and found that Pitt Artist pens wrote easily over the color once it cured for a half hour or so. Two nice discoveries to start my day.

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Grids

I had an assignment to make two or more collages on a grid; so far I’ve done three.

I think the word “meh” may have been invented to describe my response to this first one.

I noted that the next grid would be tighter and have color or texture in the background.

More like this.

After cutting and tearing sort-of circles to make these two grids, I recognized how much I missed my half-inch punch, so I bought a new one.

In this third collage, the underlying grid is made from blue painters tape and translucent bandage tape. There is a pattern to the succession of patterns in the dots – do you see it?

Making art with a community (in this case 2019: Year of the Collage, curated by Carla Sonheim and two partners), you realize just how fertile our imaginations are. There’s just no point to wondering why your work doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

“The Senses”

Around the first of December I began a 25-day art journaling challenge with prompts, organized by Kasia Avery of Everything Art. I rarely undertake challenges, and I hate working with prompts, but I challenged myself to see what I would do with it. My plan was to work on it until the winter solstice.

The project was more rewarding than I expected. Kasia urged us to select one palette of colors and a limited selection of media for the whole project, so that our 20-some-odd pages would have that level of cohesion. Within that constraint, I felt free to tear off in any direction as to style and content. Quite a few of my pages are on Instagram (@judithhollowood tagged #kasiasadventcalendar).

The laggard page, the only one that wasn’t done by December 22, was “the senses,” December 10. That was finally completed this morning. I can’t fathom why it took so long.

In fact, there are two versions. Here’s the second.

I’m in no hurry to decide whether this fire-gazer will get stuck down permanently or not.

A New Collage Book

Three folios, including the cover; with some pockets and the like. I’ll share a sampling.

Back (left) and front covers.

The little black arrow in the corner marks the correct end up, though it could have gone either way.

An inside spread.

This little book (5.5 by 4.25 inches) collects some images and papers I like, with very little editorializing or mark-making going on inside. It has a pamphlet binding sewn with cotton cord.

Another inside spread.

“Nevertheless, be prepared” is the name of an generous hank of hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn that I bought at a craft fair because I had had such a good time talking to the creator. And of course, it is good advice. I tore this scrap off the receipt the maker gave me.

It is the name of the book, even though it doesn’t appear on the cover.

Postcard-Blizzard Time

It’s time to mail 10 handmade postcards and receive 10 back, through iHanna’s semiannual DIY Postcard Swap.

The Seattle-based artist Carla Sonheim is a generous contributor to DIY artists online. Her courses are well-priced, and her freebies are fun. Her work inspired this little critter. It’s really too bad what happened to his right eyebrow … I can’t explain it.

The paper on his rump was handmade years ago, of cotton linter and iris fiber. It’s brittle and fragile – we’ll see how it survives the mail. If I made another critter like this, both he and his background would be a little less busy. His mild expression is true to the source.

I have six more cards to post over the next few days. I mailed the first three unthinkingly, but the rest will be duly scanned.

Back to the Big Book

I’ve been working in small formats for the last six weeks or so, but faced by a fresh mountain of interesting offcuts, I decided to return to my letter-sized mixed media book.

I made a scatter-shot collage background, and then I added some focal images. While I was doing this, I found a quote from a book on urban planning that I’d been saving. The words pulled everything together for me.

“Yet there exists at the back of our minds a feeling that could we only start again we would get rid of this hotch potch and make all new and fine and perfect.”

The photograph is not of me but could easily be a cousin: There’s that degree of resemblance.

I’ve been reading a lot of political philosophy and history lately and reflecting on how humans need both stability and renewal. I used to be more optimistic about revolutions than I am today. Hence “rubbish,” the response in the lower left, which is a little strong — but it’s what popped into my head.

Sorting Stuff

If sorting stuff is not a recognized recreational pass-time, it should be. It seems to be my favorite. For example, I have 50+ fairly beat-up postcards from circa 1914 that I keep sorting. I’d like to select a few favorites and discard the rest, but I can’t seem to bring the process to a full stop.
I’ll eat an orange for you. You can throw a snowball for me.