"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cigar Box Assemblage

Several years ago my good friend Terry Garrett gave me some nice wooden cigar boxes to play with in my studio.   I have been thinking about what I wanted to do with them, and just recently was inspired to create an assemblage with one of them.    Out came the Dremel Tool, X-acto knife, detail saw and drill.  With no idea what would happen, I started building a little structure.
Once that was finished, it was painted and covered with stained vintage papers on the interior.  
Then began the search through my collection of "stuff" for a focal point to provide further inspiration.  

Having recently purchased this photograph of a young girl in an antique shop, I decided this would be the subject.  I surrounded her with another frame of waxed linen cording, and constructed another box to house the photograph.  There is glass covering the front of the smaller box, and the sides are covered with antique brocade.   

A pair of small doll hands were secured into the opening of the large box, and I used fabric scraps and paint to create the texture around them as they reach out.   
Vintage papers and other found objects were then arranged and adhered into place around the interior.
The story is left up to the viewer....   I have one in mind, but wouldn't want to take away from whatever narrative you care to come up with.  


Friday, March 14, 2014

Nosferatu The Vampire

I've been taking an online class with one of my favorite artists, Michael DeMeng, called Punk Fiction and Cave of Pages.   In the class, we have learned some great techniques for altering a book cover, and then creating an interior using a variety of mixed media and assemblage techniques.
For my theme, I chose Nosferatu the Vampire.    
 Using a small hardbound journal as my structure, I altered the cover using layers of Aves Apoxy Clay, and a variety of metal objects, including some small brass letters that I was able to embed in the surface.  Painting techniques were then applied to create the desired effects.
The interior was then carved out to create a niche for the portrait of Count Orlok, Nosferatu.  The edges of the niche are covered with pieces of an antique map, and painted with several layers of paint to enhance the aged effect.  
I began the portrait with a black and white photograph of the character as portrayed by actor Klaus Kinski in the 1979 version of the movie.  Using photoshop and acrylic paints, I altered the photograph, mounted it with a leather mat and cut a channel for a piece of clear glass to cover it.   This was then secured behind the block of pages with the carved niche, creating a box-like effect.  
The facing cover is embellished with a thick piece of brown leather on which I stitched a key and a piece of elaborate waxed linen knot work.   Two strips of black leather hold the knotwork in place and the whole piece fits nicely into the niche when closed.  
  The interior edge of the niche is covered with antique brocade, which is further "aged" with paint.
The spine of the book was reinforced with dark brown leather and decorative copper nails.
 The two teeth on the cover pay homage to the unique look of this vampire, whose trademark fangs were placed at the front of his mouth rather than in the more common canine position.  I've always thought Nosferatu had the most frightening apperance of all fictional vampires for this reason.
I think it's finished, but like all projects, it may get an additional tweak here and there as it sits on my work table a while longer.  

The class has been great fun, and I have another book in the works, waiting for the interior work to begin.
For anyone considering taking a class with Michael DeMeng, in person or online, I would highly recommend it.  You will learn so many creative techniques that can be applied to your  mixed media projects.   I've taken several of his classes and keep going back for more.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Journal Pages

 I'm experimenting with some new ways of working in my journal, using more dry mediums for the final stages.   Here is the process:    First I take a large sheet of heavy mixed media paper with which to make the journal.   I use wet mediums to paint and stain the paper on both sides.  Color choices used for this step will determine the color theme of the journal pages.  
When the paper is completely dry, I cut it into folios and bind it into a 16 page journal.  Next step is to collage some focal images onto the pages to get started.   I'm using dry adhesive in this journal, rather than matte medium.  

Next I airbrushed acrylics to continue to build imagery and background interest, and once that is finished, it's all colored pencil and pen work for the rest of the process.  
I'm finding that I really enjoy the portability of working with dry mediums.  It's easy to take a journal almost anywhere to work on, with just a pencil case full of colored pencils and markers.
I also like the smaller journal format with 16 pages of similar color themes.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Artist trading card for January...... Edgar Allen Poe theme.
I began reading the works of Poe when I was very young and he has always inspired me.
This ATC design was done in Photoshop using a black and white photograph, altered with color and a posterization filter.   The quote and heart were added as additional layers.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Icons and Opportunities

As artists, we are constantly influenced by what we see and experience.  These images become subconscious prompts for future work, and can sometimes be inspiration for immediate expression.   In all cases, we are gifted with a variety of opportunities on a daily basis.

During my recent long weekend at Valley Ridge Art Studio in Wisconsin, a group of us visited a monastic community that produces beautiful hand painted orthodox icons.   Afterward, back in the studio, this was the journal page I made, influenced by the imagery of the icons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013


Our Artist Trading Card themes for this month included Palmistry.   This was my offering for the exchange; a composition created from a composite of four different vintage illustrations, using Adobe Photoshop.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Mixed media collage in my visual journal using Dylusion Inks, matte medium, collage, Molotow markers, Prismacolor pencils, and two of my favorite quotes about endurance:

She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.
                                                                                                           -Elizabeth Edwards

On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fate Luck Chance

Visual Journal pages using Dylusion Inks, Molotow markers, Prismacolor pencils, black gesso, matte medium, and collage.
When working with Dylusion Inks, which are NOT waterproof, it is important to note that if you are going to add collage elements or any wet medium, the inked areas must be sealed to avoid color bleeding.   In this journal, I created backgrounds on all of the pages using the Dylusion inks because I love the vibrant colors.  Then, I applied matte medium with a roller to seal.  I used 2 thin coats, drying between coats.   The beauty of this method, is that once you have applied the medium, any further marks can be removed with a damp cloth without distrubing the background.   So, if you make a mistake or want to change something that you have done with marker or pencils, you can do so quite easily.  This works less effectively with permanent markers, if they are completely dry, but early on, there is a chance to change your mind and "erase."   I use baby wipes to do this while I am working.

The text on the pages reads:
That's life.... a long series of little questions that lead you from one moment to the next, never waiting for you to catch your breath.  And in the end it all comes back to three basics:  Fate...Luck...Chance.

In my Art Journals, text becomes an element of design, leading the viewer through the composition, and lending interpretation to the narrative.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Working in my journal with Dylusion ink, black gesso, Prismacolor pencils, matte medium and collage, while revisiting some of my favorite quotes about fear.
Social control is best managed by fear, the parent of cruelty and the enemy of logic.
Fear is a Liar.  To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mixed Media Journal Pages

Here are two pages from my visual journal today.    These started with background painting using Dylusion Inks.   These inks are wonderful for color richness, but they are not waterproof.  Since I wanted to do some painting and collage on these backgrounds, I sealed them with acrylic medium applied with a roller.   That allowed me to work freely on the backgrounds with collage, paint, and colored pencil after they were dry.    
The writing is done with Molotow markers, which are permanent and waterproof acrylic when dry, so the entire work can be sealed with matte medium when finished, or painted on, without fear of the text running or smearing.   

In mixed media art, it's so important to learn about the characteristics of the mediums you use, to avoid unhappy accidents.   It's all about learning and experimenting.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Heads or Tails?

 One of the choices for this month's ATC exchange was Mermaids.  I used 7 individual images to create this illustration in Photoshop and then decided to experiment with a reversal  of the "parts."
The second card design is sort of a "reverse mermaid."   I find it both amusing and a little disturbing to see the fish head in this context, and this one is actually my favorite of the two.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Another Set of Three

The fun experimentation with sets of three continues.  This time, inspired by the colors in my garden and a summer sunset.   
Working on three collage paintings simultaneously is a great way to keep the energy flowing, challenge yourself to work intuitively and not linger too long in the decision making process.  
Choosing the basic elements you intend to work with prior to beginning, allows you to work without having to stop and look for things.   Of course, as the process goes on, allow plenty of room for spontaneous inspiration.  
The possibilities are endless.   The important thing is, let this be your own expression.  Don't copy something that someone else has already done.   Work from your own intuition and be genuine.  It's just so much more fun that way anyhow.   

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sets of Three

I have been working with sets of three collages simultaneously.   Here's how it works….. I begin by making 3 background pieces using a mono printing process on my Gelli printing plate, and the same colors on all 3.   Then a layer of painting is added to start building the composition.  Next collage elements are applied using paper and matte medium.   Finally, mark making, paint or detail work.   The rules I am applying to this process are simple…. whatever I use on one, whether it is a specific paper, color of paint or type of mark making, I must use on all 3.  So there is a continuity in the materials and colors as they relate to each other, but all 3 are still unique expressions.  

I am also working very intuitively on these, trying not to "over think" the whole process.  These may or may not be finished.

There are several options for the finished pages…. they could be bound into journal form, or mounted as individual pieces, or as a triptych.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013


"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
                                              ~Nelson Mandela

This piece was composed of four individual images arranged and altered unsing Photoshop CC.

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