Sunday, May 13, 2018

My Mommy's Collages

My Mommy's Collages

April, 2018

I had a chance to stay with my Mommy for a week at her home in Crivitz, WI, while my sister Barbara and her husband Bob were on vacation.

Because I cannot sit still for a minute without falling asleep, I decided to take some art supplies with me to keep busy.  My decision to take my collage materials was in part due to an idea that I might be able to get my Mom to make some art with me.

I will be the first to admit that I kind of thrust the terror of the blank canvas on my Mom.  During her life she had dabbled in a number of crafts most of which involve sewing of some kind.  This was new to her but she was a trooper.  

Day One saw us get some background papers down on our two substraits.  

I would only get my Mom for a few hours each day but she was willing to give it that much.  Like all artists she had doubts, saying things like "I am no good" or "I don't know what I am doing" not realizing that is what a lot of artists say in their head (or sometimes out loud) while working on a project.  

Day Two involved working with our central image and the supporting cast.  

One of the things that was a challenge to impart is the idea of play.  When do we lose the ability to just create without an editor?  

I thought I would have to do most of the cutting for my Mom.  That proved to be false.  Despite a challenged set of hands, she was able to cut out all her chosen images for her collage with no problems.

We took some time out to make a collage of a different sort.  Known as Family Casserole, a carefully and artfully saved forever by my sister Barb in a cook book and family photo album she made a few years ago, my Mommy and I made our dinner together.  Now that I am retired I have started to cook and the old family recipes are a delight to make.

Day Three was painting.  To my surprise, after very little instruction, my Mom grab the brush and dived right in.  

Here are some images of some of the collages I worked on along side my Mommy (some finished, some not):

We never got a chance to finish the works that Mom started.  My sister Barb suggested I could take the works home, finish them and frame them as a gift for Mother's Day 2018.

So I did. 

Here is Mommy's other gift for 2018--a collage I did.  The image is part (sorry Pop and Barb) of our famous family photo that still hangs in my Mom's den in Crivitz.  It is Mom and I, probably 1954, and it answers the question that provides the title for the piece:

Who Is Mommy's Big Boy? 

I guess I am.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Michael deMeng's Altered Alice On-Line Class

Michael deMeng's Altered Alice On-Line Class

In 2017, Michael deMeng offered an on-line assemblage class called Altered Alice.  What is cool about this version of Michael on-line is he has very specific suggestions for making each character in the Alice tableau.  Normally it is hard for me to stay inside the box during any workshop but this time I decided to buckle down, pay attention and try to follow the suggested process. 

Here is the course description:

"Let's take a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole and discover a world where logic and reason have been turned upside down and, contrary wise, downside up.  This workshop will explore the unusual cast of characters that inhabit Wonderland as we create them as well as the world in which they dwell.

Part One: The Wonderlanders - The first portion of this online class focuses on creating a variety of the characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  We will be using a combination of everyday found objects, clay, wood and paint to reinvent these Wonderlanders.

Part Two: The Rabbit Hole Theatre - In the second half of the class we will create a stage for our puppet thespians to enact the various scenes from the books.    The stage will consist of a block or wood or shallow box.  We will construct trees to frame our stage as well as layered cut-out back drops to create a tunnelled effect.    Of course, we will also be transforming these backdrops and with yummy alternate-worldly effects using paint a variety of painting techniques."

Let us start with Part Two first.

The stage is made out of a box into which are fastened the supports for the "curtains."

The trees are the downstage curtains.

I made the back curtain out of muslin and paint.

Here we have my completed Rabbit Hole Theatre.

Now let's move on to The Wonderlanders.

The Queen of Hearts

Of all the characters I made, this one was the least satisfactory when it was done.  Not only did I feel like the construction never got to the point where it was interesting, I feel the same way about the painting.  Here is the process:

This figure started with a pedestal from some planter and the top of an Avon bottle.

I papered up the inside for support.

The painting begins.

The painting is done.

Gardner Cards

I decided that if I was going to make the Gardner Cards I would follow the book's joke and make them spades.  

Cheshire Cat

This character is basically sculpted from Aves Apoxie Sculpt over some aluminum foil. 
My boy cat, Biakabutuka, served as the model.

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

This pair found a home on a wood table leg.  Like the cat, they were basically sculpted from Aves but this time over some Tinkertoy parts.



The Caterpillar

The Caterpillar was jumped kicked by a hose.  After that, it was game on.

The Hookah

The Mad Hatter

Got to start this guy with a head and a hat.

For his body I selected a perfume bottle.


For Alice I wanted to give the impression of her in the hole.

The White Rabbit

For whatever reason, this character turned out to be my favorite.  The odd thing for me is I also think it looks the most "craft" like.  But, it has charm.  

I do not like to share too much of the "teaching" in these on-line workshops in order to avoid undercutting the profit margin of my teachers.  But I had to share the idea behind The White Rabbit here to show you what value there is in taking a course from a teacher who can inspire creativity like Michael deMeng.

My thanks go out to Michael deMeng for another great on-line workshop experience.