Thursday, May 28, 2015


We mixed-media & collage people tend to accumulate a lot of paper.
It can be awfully hard to tame the ever-growing collection and organize in such as way that it's useful.

I found a system a few years ago that works for me.

I bought this mammoth file cabinet at a thrift store for $20.
It's ugly as sin, but it's well made, with deep drawers that roll smoothly.

It's squeezed into a corner of the art room, conveniently located next to my chaotic work table.

One whole drawer is devoted to images, sorted by categories that make sense to me.  (Animals, people, nature, architecture, body parts, etc.)
 That drawer also includes folders for security envelopes, old book pages, interesting packaging...

Another drawer is devoted to my hand painted papers, sorted by color:
 Within each color file there's even a separate folder to contain the smaller bits of colored paper that would get lost among the full sheets.

This drawer has folders of painted deli paper, painted tissue paper, altered magazine pages, multicolored marble paper....

In addition to those drawers, I have this little portfolio of magazine images sorted by color.  Sometimes when I'm working monochromatically I don't want to go looking through all my subject folders (Is there something red in the furniture file?  how about in the insect file?).  Nights when I'm sitting in front of the TV I'll grab a magazine and add colored images to this file.


 This bin holds specialty papers - little bits of colored rice paper and mulberry paper.  Pretty origami paper.  Cool vintage wallpaper your friend Mandy sent you...

 I have not one, but two, cigar boxes of text.  (one for small phrases cut from books, the other for larger bits.)

And then there's the junk basket.  This is where all new materials tend to land.  Anything that gets mailed to me, or that I pick up off the side of the road, or find in the recycling bin gets tossed in here.  Often this is the only source of collage materials I end up using!  Whatever is in front of my eyes is most attractive.
When the basket gets full to overflowing I take a half hour and sort it into categories and file it away.

That's what works for me.
Thanks to Marcie for your question, reminding me that I took all these pictures a year ago (in response to someone else's question) and never actually wrote the blog post.

What works for you?
Do you have a system?
Do tell!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I spent part of the weekend making art with Mandy and Lynn.  Lynn confessed she'd been worried about me because I haven't been blogging.
It made me realize I haven't stopped because I'm miserable or unwell - I've disappeared because I'm happy.

My new job is somewhat all-consuming, and that explains part of my absence.  But the job is good - I'm really loving it and I'm so glad I took the position.  The people are wonderful, I have strong leaders all around me, I was able to jump right in and contribute my professional strengths, I have big plans for the next school year, and I'm feeling challenged in the best possible way.  The learning curve can wear me out at times, making me more likely to come home and relax with a book or TV than make art, but that's not the whole explanation for the four month blogging hiatus.

I've had way busier times of my life and I've managed to make art and blog nearly every day in spite of it.  Upon reflection, I realize what drove me to this creative process and on-line community was sadness and desperation.  I needed an outlet, I needed escape, I needed to feel I was creating and contributing.


Now, I'm happy.  I'm relaxed. In spite of the demands that come with learning how to do my job, I feel I've finally achieved some balance.  Work is good, family is good, personal time is good.  Work and life are not keeping me from art.  Instead, because I'm happy, I feel good about choosing to spend my time other ways - be it reading, or cooking or just hanging out with my guys.


Don't get me wrong.  I'm still making stuff.
Another reason I haven't been blogging is because I've immersed myself in improving my acrylic technique and developing more complex abstract paintings.  I have a dozen canvases propped around the studio in various stages of completion. I'm working my way through two of Julie Pritchard & Chris Cozen's classes, as well as two from Karine Swenson.
I've given myself permission to straight-on copy the examples made in class in order to focus on technique without getting all hung up on originality.
I'm learning a ton, and my skills are improving, but since I'm not doing my own work, I don't feel like posting pictures yet.

Luckily the 24 hours I spent with Mandy and Lynn were incredibly productive.  In between all the laughing and talking and eating, we all did a ton of work.  The images on this page are just some of the pieces I made at Mandy's table. 

What I will blame on the job is my total absence from visiting all of your blogs and flickr accounts.  I realize now just how much blog reading I did during the work day in my old job.  That's not going to happen with this job. And with less time and energy in the evenings, creating is a bigger priority than keeping up with social media.  I miss my on-line relationships, and I know someday soon it won't feel so overwhelming to pick them back up again.

In the meantime, know that I'm well, and thanks for worrying.