A few years ago I found a book kit at Books-A-Million called Stupid Sock Creatures. I loved the idea of creating oddball sock dolls and immediately began saving up old socks and gloves and buying new ones at salvage stores. However, I didn’t have time to actually make anything with those socks until a couple of years ago when I retired.
Pique assiette (or picassiette) is mosaic made from bits of broken china, pottery, glass, figurines, and/or jewelry. You can use these materials to make a conventional picture, decorate a piece of furniture or even cover an entire house. A good example of the latter is the mosaic garden in France called Maison Picassiette. Probably the most famous collection of pique assiette is in the city of Barcelona where public places are filled with mosaics by the architect Antoni Gaudi. He and his assistants covered walls, benches, buildings, and fountains with shards of broken dishes and pottery.
Pique assiette appeals to the modern interest in upcycling. It also gives a way to preserve items of sentimental value like the roses on this humble door hanger. They are shards of cups, saucers and plates from my daughter’s china collection. It took a few years for the children to break this many things but it was worth the wait.
Surrealism is an art movement of the early twentieth century that has continued unabated in popularity to this day. Route 1 Ellisville ismy nod to Surrealism.
Like Erthling in the previous post, Route 1 Ellisville is a form of altered art in which photos are transformed to create a new work. This one has three photos – the house, the sun disc and the car. Drawn lines radiate out from the sun to create rays and a road that unify the composition and provide an imaginary setting for the house and car. I filled in the rays and the road, extended the building, and added cast shadows to the ground with colored pencils. I also used colored pencils to alter the colors in the sun and add shadows and highlights to the car and the house. This helped to integrate the objects more fully with the background. Finally, I used white paint to add the stripes on the road and the vanity tag on the car.
An artwork that has been created by transforming or recycling an existing art work is called altered art. This can also involve the alteration of ordinary objects such as game boards, books, and toys, etc. Erthling is an altered photograph.
My process for altering a photograph is to glue it into a sketch book and transform it with paint media and collage elements to create a different and interesting new work.
The photo for Erthling was of an abandoned car sitting in an overgrown drive-in movie parking lot. I used paint to turn the sky from day to night, the parking lot from grass to pavement and made the car pink. I also painted in details like the fence and the people inside the car, and then collaged in the blue sky on the screen and purple flying saucer (which was actually a ceiling from an old building cut from another photo.) I added the saucer on the screen and the vanity tag with colored pencils and markers. I also used paint to extend the photo beyond it’s edges so it would fill the page.
Artists have incorporated photos into their work since Picasso (or Braque – no one knows for sure which) invented collage. The legal term for incorporating other people’s work into your own is called Fair Use. Since my photo for Erthling came from an old magazine I decided to review the subject before displaying this and the next couple of items on the blog. From what I gathered, this work is okay to show because (a) it is transformed enough to be a new artwork and (b) it’s not for sale.
Recently my son bought me a set of Prismacolor™ colored pencils. I started experimenting with them using some little outline designs I already had in a sketch book. Being wax-based they blend smoothly, but the tooth in my paper allowed a lot of texture and tiny little white spots to show through. You can see it in the version above.
So I went over it with a blending pencil. This covered most of the white spots and gave a smoother appearance as you can see in the version below.
However, while cropping the scanner versions for this post, I noticed that the color – particularly the pinks – seemed washed out, and some texture still came through even though it’s almost invisible in the original. So I decided to see if a photograph would show the artwork better. The version below was photographed with the camera on my Android phone.
As you can see, the textures are more subdued. However in the camera version, the color changed. The oranges and yellows are now more saturated than in the original and the blue-green is not green at all. I played around with the color tools in Gimp trying to get color truer to the original but everything I did to one color altered the other ones as well. I’m nowhere near an expert at using editing software, but this brings up and interesting problem in publishing artwork online or even in books.
Compare, for example. these versions of Monet’s Impression Sunrise.
There are many more of them online. I prefer the one on the top which came from Wikiart. However the important thing is not which version I prefer but what the artist intended it to look like. The only way you can know for sure is to go to Paris and see it for yourself.
Sgraffito is an art technique that involves scratching through a layer of paint or other media to reveal a contrasting color beneath. Historical applications include painting, pottery, and glass, but the definition also applies to drawing media like scratch board, crayon and oil pastel etchings.
In this acrylic portrait of my conure I’ve used sgraffito to liven up the background. The process was simple: I put down a layer of paint, let it dry, then put on a thicker coat and used a pointed stick to scratch designs into it while it was still wet.
In the previous posts on art journaling, I used some of my first pages. However, my process has evolved over the years, so for this post I decided to jump ahead and show some more current ones. The top one is not the first one for 2017 but it is about the event that set the tone. It illustrates a tornado that tore through our neighborhood and changed many people’s lives forever. My house is the one with the big tree at the bottom. I cut the title words out of a newspaper and made the tornado and stormy sky with crayon and watercolor resist.
The page below is built around a failed drawing. After gluing and writing things around the face, I unified the whole by filling in with colors that repeat the colors in the collaged elements. It’s all random which makes it a totally laid back way to make some art, record some thoughts, and preserve some memorabilia.
Art journal pages can be created using the same techniques that are used in the creation of altered books. The pages on this post are an example. The above, for instance, contains a window that gives a partial view of the image on the following page. I even put cellophane over the opening to give an illusion of glass. Turn the page and you see the complete image as shown below. That image was made by gluing in a photo of a frog and then drawing the imaginary tree roots it’s sitting on. If you look closely you can see the borders of the photo.
These pages are about six years old, so I don’t remember why I chose to put the frog behind bars. I probably just wanted to create a page with a window in it and then added the frog later, centering it to fit. Anyway, I like the willow tree with its roots on the mossy knoll.
Several years ago I read an article about an artist who created art journals throughout her career. When she passed away the Smithsonian American Art Museum bought them from her sons. That was the first time I’d seen the term art journal, but since then I’ve seen dozens of books about it and the internet has been inundated with images of art journal pages. Anyway, I loved the idea and immediately began to create my own.
Basically, an art journal is a sort of illustrated diary. The possibilities for creating them are endless. My own process is to fill a sketch book page with doodles, sketches, notes, quotes, ideas, inspirational quotes, and glued in daily ephemera. I also try to finish mine with some unifying element. For example the one above is unified with the color red. I achieved that with tissue paper, fabric netting, watercolor and various kinds of pens.
The page below is unified with the color yellow and also with curved lines.
I doubt the Smithsonian will be interested in my journals. Maybe they’ll wind up in my kids’ attics, a garage sale, or a trash bin. Whatever becomes of them, they have been an interesting and satisfying experience.