Change the Conversation…

5 O-Clock WorldReceiving the large parcel containing the new Artistcellar Halftone Dots stencils and Yasutomo Mineral Paper was a sweet homecoming. From art school to the present, my life has been all about printing. The passion I felt in the printmaking studio for etching and lithography effortlessly gave way to screen printing, and then segued into the digital field of publication printing and advertising. Forever chasing perfect registration, the dots are friends who at times can be mischievous, but never dull, dancing on a variety of papers like moonbeams slipping across silk.

For someone who loves paper as much as I do, the Mineral Paper was certainly a delight. Made from rocks it has a beautifully smooth texture. Wet or dry media are equally at home on the brilliant white surface.

It’s also no secret that I adore vintage images. From the 1880’s through to Mid-Century modern, the photos are the stuff of dreams for a collage artist. Who are the people in the photos? What were their lives like? What is their story?

My Muse prompted me to use a photo I have been saving for just the right project. The woman in her blue suit, white hat and bouquet of flowers radiated the Mad Men era which I thought a perfect framework for the new stencils. I couldn’t help but imagine her world. Could she be a Mad Woman? What was it like to be in advertising in the 1960’s? Was she waiting to start a conversation? Or was she the person to change it?

I set out to work with ink, watercolour, and acrylic paints. Below you will see just a few of my combinations using the paints with a brush, a sponge, and my fingers.

DOTS_SAMPLES_largeThe Mineral Paper performed perfectly. The smooth surface enhanced the stenciling. I normally work on a very heavy paper or illustration board. The Mineral Paper will now be my go to substrate. I love it! When dry, it was as flat as when I started and my colours just as vibrant. It made scanning so much easier. I finished the piece, “Five O’clock World”, as a digital file. Finding inspiration in the Op Art of the era, I layered my stencils to fit neatly within the clouds surrounding the woman.

YOU can  be the one to win a set of Halftone Dots stencils, just by leaving a comment on the Artistcellar Blog! A random lucky winner will be picked May 11th. If you can’t wait and want a set of these Halftone Dots stencils NOW… you can substitute any other set of Artistcellar stencils if you win. Also check out the rest of the design teams post, every one of us is giving away a free set!

Are you captivated by circles and dots? The Halftone Dots Series can be used in so many ways…conventionally and digitally. And the Mineral Paper is the perfect complement. In collage or journaling the pairing is the ultimate match that will easily allow you to express your thoughts.

After all, you can be the one to change the conversation.

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June by Violet Oakley / oil, charcoal, graphite on board

This was the cover of

This was the cover of “Everybody’s Magazine” in 1902.

It’s at The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk VA. They have a really great show of American Impressionists. It’s worth the drive from Richmond!  The show is titled “The Artist’s Garden”.

One thing I love about the Chrysler Museum besides the great art exhibits is that it’s FREE! Free parking! Free entry to the art! YEA!!

The show is a real inspiration! Now I want to paint like an Impressionist! But not a contemporary Impressionist, because these old dead artists beat out the live ones!  It’s too much writing for me to go into all the painting technique I observed in this show, but I think I can do it! I’ll post more pix from the show soon.

Today was a good day to go to Norfolk. The show ends Sept. 4. If you’re interested, you should probably go this week, because traffic will be worse next week. (end of Summer and Labor Day traffic jams coming to your tunnel soon!)

I’m giving you this one 1st because I want Shelby to see it. She’s a fan of Violet Oakley.

Untitled Exquisite Corpse

helene chris ec

I started this Exquisite Corpse and gave it to Helene Ruiz to finish. I covered the board with gold acrylic and collaged the swan. Then I covered half the board that I collaged, except for 1/2″ of my part showing. All Helene could see was the top of the swan’s neck. she had no idea it was a swan, or even which way was up, because I didn’t mark “up”. I also gave her some of the colored paper I used on my half. I was very happy and excited to see how abstract looking it came out! And I realized, if someone gives you an Exquisite Corpse and you don’t know which way is up, you can still finish the corpse by going non directional.

Helene gets to title this one, and keep it or sell it.

Helene doesn’t want me to post too many of the Exquisite Corpses because she doesn’t want me to give away the show, which isn’t scheduled until Sept. She sent me photos of some entries entries she received so far. There’s a lot of really cool ones coming from artists in different states and different countries. Helene probably won’t mind if I show you the ones I had a hand in, because I’m trying to drum up interest in the corpse for more local participation in the show. Also Helene hooked me up with an artist in VCU who finished a corpse I started and is starting one for me to finish. YEA! It’s a fun game and all it takes is a little imagination!

Fine Winter’s Sky / woodcut by Kawase Hasui / Feb 1921

IMG_1363 This is a great exhibit at the VMFA. It’s so inspirational. The plaques say it’s ink and color woodcut prints on paper. I wonder if it’s watercolor because they have some watercolor paintings by the artist. The colors look transparent on the woodcuts too. A lot of depth is showing. One of the plaques says it’s not traditional Japanese landscape. They also have a lot of info on the process he used. It’s complicated. But good to see how much work went into them. You can see layers of colors. I tried to see through the layers. Kawase Hasui did watercolor studies and changed his composition and colors during the steps to the finished prints. He didn’t shy away from detail. The ones with snow have thousands of white dots for snow and the ones with rain have skinny gray lines to represent rain. I wonder if they did a separate wood plate for the snow and printed it on top or if they gouged out tiny dots on the wood block so the ink wouldn’t go in those places on every block. If you like looking at fine woodcuts you should see this exhibit.

Port of Ebisu / Dec. 1921

Port of Ebisu / woodcut print/ Dec. 1921

What is Essential to You?

Hans Richter's Dada XYZ

Hans Richter’s  Dada XYZ 1948

As a creative person, what is essential to you?  “XYZ”, an Artist Trading Card call from the Carlisle Arts Learning Center in Carlisle, PA. had me thinking. My Muse was on hiatus. I felt stranded when I opened my book on the Dada Movement, and received inspiration from Hugo Ball’s Sound Poems.

It was what I needed to kick-start me into action. So it felt natural to explore the world of Dada through the eyes of other members. And what could be more appropriate than to read Hans Richter’s “Dada XYZ”.  The piece opens with “I never understood Hugo Ball very well.”

I photocopied the photo of Hans Richter and attached it to illustration board. The text in the background is Richter’s thoughts written in 1948. It is published in Robert Motherwell’s anthology of Dada writings, The Dada Painters and Poets. I finished the card with sponged metallic acrylic paint. At the end of the exhibit this card will also be traded.

Inspired by the Dadaists, not understanding is the essential quality I look for in Art and in Life. Not understanding keeps me thinking…keeps me investigating…keeps my lines to my Muse open. And when I do finally understand, even if not fully, it can lead me to some very interesting, unexpected and inspiring places.

My question to you is…what is Essential to You?

Amoeba Pillow with mirrors

how to be creative

how to be creative


When an art critic turns up their nose and says “It’s been done before.” you can ignore anything else they say because that person isn’t thinking clearly.

To be creative you have to remember something you learned in the past and combine it with something else. Then you have something new.

I didn’t invent embroidering mirrors on fabric. I didn’t invent using wire and innerfacing to make fabric hold a shape. I only had to find things I like and put them together, then ask “ok, What is this thing I made?” And people think I’m creative but I never invented anything in my life. This is why it’s important to learn from the masters if you want to be a great artist. They can teach you what works. Then you get better results because you have knowledge and experience to draw from.

Art In A Magnificent Setting…

Mystery of V Oakley

The Mystery of Violet Oakley – Collage

I have always loved visiting the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. It has it all: sweeping exterior staircases, incredible marble sculptures, murals beyond compare, and Commonwealth, resting atop the dome, a gilded fourteen foot six-inch statue I had the pleasure of seeing at ground level after restoration.

This is why I am so excited, and honoured, to be included in the Fifth Annual Daily Painters of Pennsylvania Group Exhibition taking place in the East Wing Rotunda for the month of July 2014.

The Daily Painters is Blog devoted to artists living in Pennsylvania. The diversity and standard of work is magnificent. I love visiting the Blog because it takes me back to my Art School days where we were able to view work in progress, and careers in transition, in an encouraging environment.

For the exhibition we each submitted three works. I chose The Mystery of Violet Oakley as one of my pieces. The Pre-Raphaelite influenced work of Violet Oakley is no stranger to us living in the Harrisburg area.  Forty-three murals grace the walls of the Capitol. Violet was the first woman artist to receive a commission of such magnitude in the United States. Her extraordinary talent and life inspired my collage.

As one of the Red Rose Girls, Violet shared her life with Jessie Willcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Living together encouraged a climate of extreme creativity and speculation on the true nature of the arrangement, a mystery that would never be fully solved.

The substrate for my collage is canvas. In addition to the photo of Violet, I used handmade and art paper, ribbon, joss paper, a letter written by Violet, and a pressed rose petal.

Although we Daily Painters don’t physically live together, we do share a home base on the Blog. And like the Red Rose Girls, it is an enlightening and nurturing place to be.

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