Stretching For New Work

wash wax

‘Wash Wax at Michael McMillan’s House ‘ 20 x 16″ watercolor with collage

 

I’m really enjoying my new found love of collage. It seems to have set a fire under me that I would never have guessed would have happened. Combining watercolor and collage has proved a natural. Add to that some drawing, and voila

That brings me to thinking about how much things have changed for artists like myself over the years. I remember a time when we were told we should only focus on one media. Well, that’s out the window, thank goodness. With all the new materials available there are countless combinations and variations from which to choose. Happy experiments lead us down interesting paths sparking our sense of play.

Last weekend we stopped by a museum show in the North Bay featuring artist Evri Kwong, who has done some striking works combining his surreal landscapes, drawings with sharpies, and even some fabric. The pieces were exciting and inspirational.

kwongEvri Kwong, artist, courtesy Lannan Foundation

With a nod to traditional artists, I for one, am totally excited to see and experience these new ideas presenting in the world of art today. I can picture artists throwing off the old societal rules regarding “art,” and what it should be, and instead treating us to their personal artistic vision.

 

Art And That What We’d Rather Not Do

Return To Balance

I can’t think of one artist who would rather be attending to business than making art. Michael and I usually try to keep a couple of shows going throughout the year, but got slack in 2018. Thank the gods for Lauren’s Cafe in Boonville. Our friends Natalie and Lauren keep us in mind and slip us in here and there. We will be showing there for a quick month March 18-April 14.

Michael has been working on assemblages, and Susan is planning on debuting all works on paper. Above is one of those works, ‘Return to Balance.’

Feeling guilty about not getting a show calendar going, I did spend time updating our little website, linking to sales pages (feeling a bit sullied after that) and working on our monthly newsletter. Got to admit the newsletter is fun, probably because it is so visual. I even got links to the website, and Etsy (the sales pages) of to the right of this blog. Mailchimp sign up will actually take left-brain time, and my studio is calling…

Any artists who have conquered the business side of the studio, please let me know your secrets…

Show at Lauren’s March 18-April14—–Great Food—–Good Friends——Great Art

 

 

 

Not Too Serious…

IMG_4902

The new year finds us zeroing in on  creating works that we enjoy. Assemblage is challenging and brings surprises in the process of creating, and we both love working the piece into something cohesive and true. Both Michael and I have talked about ‘lightening up’ in our work, not so easy when parts we employ are old and rusty…we are just not the plastic and bright color types. In an attempt to bring a little brevity to the studio, I started working on collaged bugs. And I am having fun…

My side of the studio has three work areas giving me the opportunity to work on two or three pieces at a time. I find I can really only have one of these pieces be an assemblage, the other one or two pieces are collages. And the bugs are a perfect break from the seriousness of the dark and mysterious assemblage corner. I can work from one piece to the next, keeping busy and not giving in to the artistic doldrums that pop up when I get a little stuck on the next step of the work in front of me.

I’m even  naming these bugs  to really keep things light-hearted. Above is ‘Riza‘, she is in a 16 x 20 studio mat and frame and will be heading to our show next month at Lauren’s Café in Boonville.

 

 

What Assemblage Is

Just in case you were wondering…
I ran across this great definition of assemblage from instructor J. Minkoff’s class notes for his ECC Art 100 class. He succinctly points out that that an assemblage is a type of construction, but a construction is not necessarily an assemblage. Hope that answers some questions…try this definition out next time you visit contemporary works at a museum…
“A Construction is any sculpture where a variety of materials are joined together to make a 3D artwork. An example would be below (“Soft Toilet”, Claes Oldenburg, American, 1960’s), where vinyl, wood and other materials have been used to build the artwork.”

oldenburgtoilet

“An assemblage is a particular class of construction. As in a construction, the artist is joining together a variety of materials. However, the materials in an assemblage are, more specifically, FOUND OBJECTS. That is, objects that were made by someone other than the artist, usually for a non-art-related purpose. The artist finds ways to combine these found items, often emphasizing the way they do not seem to belong together, and were never meant to be used in the manner the artist has chosen. Below is a good example of an assemblage: “Monogram”, by Robert Rauschenberg, American, 1960’s.”

 

rauschenbergmonogram_side

Note that Minkoff points out to us that the assemblage objects were never meant to be used in the manner the artist has chosen. Here is where great humor can be inserted…

 

 

Are We Becoming Mainstream?

an idea takes flight

After the great open studio event we had last month, I was left wondering, “What made this year so successful?” I can’t say for sure, but here are a couple of ideas:

The 100th Monkey Effect- For those of you not around in the 60s and 70s,the theory was that after an idea circulated through a society of 100 monkeys, the idea jumped exponentially to other monkey societies.  I hope that assemblage art is becoming more recognized and accepted by the general public. I hope this is true, and that people are intrigued and want to see more.

Hard Work Pays Off– Social media works for the artist. We posted images of work to be on display for the event 2-3 times per week for about 5 weeks leading up to the event. We hammered the event shamelessly, and we invited in person. I know of a few people we personally invited who showed up because of that. Putting in the effort paid off. People came to see the art and the studios, not to eat the cookies.

A good book on hosting an open studio event is, ‘Open Your Studio’ by Melinda Cootsona. Melinda offers a lot of helpful advice in her book. You will have to taylor that advice for what will work best in your situation, but there is plenty there to work with.

What I Wished I Had Done-I was a little embarrassed going into the event that our website  wasn’t dialed in. It looked good, but I had no links for purchasing works on the site. And I saw that we had an amazing amount of traffic on our site that weekend. Opportunities missed? Visitors could have gotten an idea of our pricing before visiting, maybe seeing something there that peaked their interest…or could have contacted us later about a piece they saw, but needed to think about.

So, I put in a few hours and got it together. You can check out our website at www.weebly.com/wilson/spencerart  We were a little slow on that and apologize, but will not let it slip again!

FAQs at Our Gallery-How Do We Start?

After a very exciting 3-day open studio event, we would like to thank everyone who showed up offering friendship, support and purchases. Our biggest turnout ever!

I tried to listen to the questions we were asked while speaking about our studio work, and thought it would be fun to address them here in the blog. I already wrote about the number one question: “where do we get all this stuff?” in an earlier blog, An Avalanche of Stuff…

Another popular question is, “How do you start a piece?”  The short answer is “many ways…”, but here I will address three main ways we might start a work:

  • Lay In The Background. This is a favorite of mine for wall work. For the beginner, too, you can avoid the pitfalls of creating cliches like bleeding baby-dolls, and robot after robot. (okay, don’t get mad, just saying it’s been done…) When you lay in a background you are giving the piece a chance to speak up. Once laid in, the background often starts to set the mood, and from there, roughly dictates the theme. In the piece below, I wanted the feeling of an old library. The original paper was pretty bright, so I toned it waaaay down with washes. Then, it reminded me of my great uncle’s library, his profession and travels:

entomologist

  • Use One Major Piece and Build A Story Around It. Here, you must stay cognizant of your focal point. Extra pieces will come and go until it feels right and it will be cohesive if you watched and listened to the art as you worked. I have a friend who keeps all the pieces of the same time historically.  His art stays cohesive and comfortable that way.  In the example below you can easily recognize the focal point, and I tried to give a ‘Punch and Judy” feel to the piece:

in the can

  • Find Two Pieces That Want To Work Together.  This is my favorite way to start a 3-D or sculptural piece. The two pieces are often nonsense together, but they need to be comfortable together and make some sort of weird sense. In the piece below, Michael has put together a camera that sits on an old tripod. Interestingly, none of the pieces in this work are from cameras!

Dada Clock

I hope readers can get insight to how we work here, and assemblage beginners can get ideas for getting started. Many of our works can be found on our website: www.wilsonspencerart.weebly.com or on the Etsy site www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgallery and www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgalleryannex

Again, thanks to all our wonderful friends, old and new, for the successful open studio event last weekend!

 

Open Studio Over Memorial Day

root swellNow on to the busy spring….there is nothing like an open studio event to get the place cleaned up! Michael is weed whipping the driveway, and I am trying to decide what cookies to bake for the upcoming weekend…

New for us this year is an outdoor display of Susan’s popular watercolors in the front garden. So it’s time to clean the fountain, and put water hyacinth in the fish pond….the red-hot pokers are blooming, and the dogs haven’t dug up the strawberries… yet!

We are also adding a pal to our open studios up here: Nadia Berrigan will be showing her photography up here. Yay for art friends!

Anderson Valley Open Studios, May 26-28, hope you can make it up the hill and have a visit, we are looking forward to it!

 

Studio Sneak Peak

studio 1

studio2

A huge big thank-you to all our friends who attended our opening at Mendocino Art Center last weekend. We had such a great time, and the center appreciates all of our support. Makes us pause and count our blessings…

And with the beginning of the week (right after slacker art group, which was phenomenal as usual,) I was ready to plow into preparations for the open studio event up here over Memorial Day weekend. The studio was in disarray, and still not as functional as it could be, so I dug into my side of the room.

With my new-found passion for having several work stations going at once, I did a little rearranging and total de-thugging. I now have four(!) work stations where I can assemble, paint, and explore to my heart’s content.

The top photo shows where I can work on the laptop, my “explore” corner (currently art journals), my new watercolor desk, and a new assemblage area. The corner comfy chair has a small table for laptop where I can ‘you-tube’ away with inspirational techniques or hook into some music. I have reached studio Nirvana….

For a more in-depth tour of my pride and joy, come visit Anderson Valley Open Studio Tours, Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28. We will be open from 11-5 each day.

Also coming up is the opening for the Influence and Inspiration Project exhibit, a collaboration between Alexis Moyer and myself at Edgewater Gallery in Fort Bragg, Friday May 4th, with the show continuing through the month of May. We still have a couple of spots open for the Influence and Inspiration workshop on May 5th at Edgewater, so let us know if you are interested in attending, at www.myartmuse.net

 

The Assemblage Art Of Dreams

Mrs. Sayers

In the last post I mentioned that this piece has a story behind it…well I better get to telling it because it is not often that I work on a piece like this, and the piece is gaining attention, I think, because of the story:

Mrs. Sayer’s Magic Cats

When I was just out of high school I had a very vivid dream. It has stayed with me over 40+ years.

I dreamed I was walking down a country road late at night. This road had no sidewalk, just a drainage ditch full of grasses that marked the edge of the road. I kept hearing this noise, “vvvvvvuuuup zing, vvvvvvvuuuuup zing….” I wondered what the noise was and turned to look. It was an amazing sight! Hidden along the road in the ditches were cats. And from the ditches running up into the sky were wires. Wires from the ditches disappearing into the night sky and every once in a while a cat went zipping up the wire, “vvvvvuuup zing!” as they rode the wire up to the moon.

It was a great dream, odd for sure, but not upsetting, just very odd and vivid.

I got one of my first jobs a few months later at a rest home. It was run by wonderful people who cared for their staff and clients. I worked on the cleaning crew during the day. The job was hard work, but not traumatic in that the residents were pretty together and some well-off. Mrs. Sayers apparently had plenty of money,  she lived in a private room surrounded by her own furnishings, big heavy drapes at the windows, it was more like entering someone’s parlor, than an institutionalized room. And Mrs. Sayers was eccentric to the nines! I loved that. Her comments were often head-shakers and always brought us to laughter.

One morning I went in to start cleaning her room. She was sitting in her big leather chair, grumbling. “Good morning, Mrs. Sayers, how are you, today?” my usual greeting. She looked at me and said, “I didn’t sleep a wink, last night, for all the noise…” Really? what was all the noise about, I asked. “Those cats!” she exclaimed. What cats? There are no cats here…I said as the hair started raising on my neck….

“All those cats! It was a full moon, you know, and they ride wires to the moon when it is full…the ditches were full of them! The noise went on all night!”

I’ve heard that in the late teen years young women can have a certain small clairvoyance. This was an instance that finally came out into an art piece…..those magic cats!