Thursday, January 24, 2013

Anatomy of a Collage

Here are the first four pieces of a collage glued together but not glued down. Later I will use the green cardstock as part of the background. At this point I have a certain inkling of where I am going, using images from fruit crate labels and old advertising. A theme of peek-a-boo faces is evolving. I have also chosen to cut the pieces in a way that highlights two text fragments. For this collage, I am gluing the foreground together off the final substrata. I will work on the background later.

So this is what the back of the collage foreground looks like. In some places I use little pieces of tissue paper to help the joinery. You can see the purple glue under a piece of tissue paper on the lower left.

Here I have added two more faces and a fragment of a red veiled hat.

And then a much larger face on the lower left.

Time to work on the background. Note the bottom of a face on the lower right. I love the way it will line up with another face on the foreground (see below).

The more-or-less finished collage with a few more embellishments. Gluing the big foreground down to the background is always tricky. I use a brayer to get it glued down flat. It is all attached to the thin green cardstock. I leave it pressed between waxed paper in a thick book for a day or two, just to be sure it has dried flat. Later I may move it on to wood or canvas. For now, I am calling the piece "Have Me".

I just had a long break from my collage practice during the holidays and my husband's heart surgery. He is doing much better now! Whenever possible, I like to get my hands on collage work daily. Sometimes I can complete more than one a day, but often, work on a single collage is spread out over a few days. I usually have two or three going at once, and a small stable of slightly unfinished or problematic collages sitting around that I need to get back to. Starting a collage is the easiest part. Usually I have a few fragments I know I want to get started with. Then as the piece develops, it often takes a little longer to find just the right components to tie it all together into a (hopefully) unified whole. I have collage files sorted by shape, color, subject, etc. I also have boxes of unsorted scraps I am always pawing through, looking for I don't know what, until suddenly I find it. And that's the joy of collage. For me, it is full of surprises, similar in some ways to the art of poetry.

Collage: "Have Me" by Keddy Ann Outlaw

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013: May it Be a Year of Better Organization and More Binders!

Many of you know that my husband Tom had to have triple bypass surgery recently, much changing the landscape of our winter holidays. We did have a lovely family Christmas as usual, but two or three days later, much of the family gathered again at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital to visit  us there. Within eight days he was home, beginning a predicted 6 - 8 week recovery period. We are hoping for the best and from all we hear, hopefully he will feel like a new man soon. I am home with him most of the time, except when I nip out for yoga classes or shopping. I managed to buy a new file cabinet one day while his daughter stayed with him at the hospital, and thus begun a fun period of home office reorganization. 

Some of my old files were overstuffed, and I was able to weed out a lot of unnecessary paper. We'll get plenty of recycling points from the City of Houston this month! But the most fun was had going through photocopied poems, short stories and articles on writing I had collected over the last three decades. I reselected favorites and moved them into notebook binders, making them much more browseable than when they languished in files. Now I might even reread them from time to time, exactly my goal in saving them in the first place. And when I am a little old lady and it is time to trot off to assisted living, I'll have my handy notebooks to take along! I even alphabetized the stories and poems by author (like a good librarian), and in the process reconfirmed just who some of my favorite writers are: poets Billy Collins, Raymond Carver and Jane Kenyon, as well as several small press poet friends, especially Albert Huffstickler; short story writers Edna O'Brien, Julie Hecht, John Sayles and Barbara Kingsolver to mention a few. And there is room to add more.  Of course, I also have entire books by some of these writers. And yes, I have electronic files of favorite literary treasures too, largely due to the daily Writer's Almanac email I receive, but there's nothing like an actual binder you can pick up and browse through, especially when the "anthology" is hand-selected.

Other findings included old cards I made for my father as a child, my elementary school report cards, a poem a friend wrote about her father that she no longer had a copy of, and hand-written letters (imagine that; I miss exchanging real letters, something I now only do with a very few friends)! Now it is time to move along into the kitchen, where I intend to move more recipes into binders there. My recipe binders have been multiplying for years. It is very hard to stop collecting recipes, even when you know you will probably never really cook a third of them. But because only you know what you and your family really likes, there's nothing like a personalized collection, especially when notes and comments are added. I love being an armchair cookbook reader, browsing around for the perfect recipe for some special occasion. When I borrow cookbooks from the library I often take photocopies, plus there are so many good recipes online to print from. Cooking from a laptop screen doesn't work for me, but maybe someday I will do better with an iPad.

Best wishes for good health and prosperity in this new year of 2013!